Former Arkansas player and assistant coach Louis Campbell is in a unique position when it comes to the Razorbacks’ search for a new football coach.
Among his coaching stops, Louis Campbell worked for Bear Bryant at Alabama, was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, and held various positions on Arkansas' staff from 1990-2007.
Campbell obviously isn’t involved directly in the process. The Hamburg native is now the head coach at Sheridan High School.
But he has had a close relationship with two coaches who very well could be wearing Razorback red come December.
Campbell recruited a high school quarterback named Mike Gundy to Oklahoma State in the 1980s and was on staff when Gundy played there. Campbell was also a teammate of defensive tackle Dick Bumpas at Arkansas in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Gundy, of course, is being mentioned heavily in connection with the Arkansas job, and Bumpas is the defensive coordinator at TCU, where his boss, Gary Patterson, has been mentioned as a top candidate for the Razorbacks’ gig.
We thought that made it the perfect time to catch up with Campbell to get his take on Gundy and Bumpas, and so we gave him a call Monday morning.
Campbell – who held various positions on the Arkansas staff from 1990-2007 and also coached for Alabama, SMU, Oklahoma State, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Mississippi State – spoke highly of both Gundy and Bumpas.
“I know Bumpas from having played with him and having been there (at Arkansas),” Campbell said. “There’s a guy that, he’s certainly paid his dues in coaching and he’s been very successful everywhere he’s been. He’s done a great job, obviously, at TCU. Hey, he’s a good person. He’s a class person.
“I can’t think of a person I’d rather represent me up there than him,” Campbell said.
They’ve never worked together as coaches. Bumpas was the defensive line coach at Arkansas in 1989. Campbell didn’t join the UA staff until the next season.
But Campbell still talks to Bumpas, who’s a Fort Smith native, every now and then. He knows him well enough to say Bumpas has been someone who’s “Arkansas from the word go.”
Bumpas, a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the UA’s Hall of Honor, was named the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1970, earning consensus All-America honors at defensive tackle.
“He was a great player,” said Campbell, who was a three-year letterman at defensive back for the Hogs.
“He worked hard. He was dedicated and committed to being the best player he could be. I think you see the same results, or same traits, in coaching.
“Of course I’ve never coached with him, but I think he certainly has a great name and a great reputation in the business. I know as a player, he was a very detailed, fundamental person, and I would think the same thing would carry over in his coaching.”
As for Gundy, Campbell helped recruit him out of Midwest City (Okla.) High School in 1986. Campbell was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for Oklahoma State during three of Gundy’s seasons in Stillwater.
Campbell remembers a player who “always had a lot of confidence in himself and what he did.”
“Of course, that’s what makes a great quarterback,” Campbell said. “He comes from a great family.
“Mike went to Oklahoma State before Oklahoma State was good, and he was part of the group that kind of turned it around as far as making Oklahoma State a viable candidate in that conference. He’s a guy that’s done well in everything he’s done, and he’s hired good people. His results obviously speak for itself.”
So when it comes to Arkansas’ search, Campbell has ties to coaches on both sides of the ball. While we had him on the phone, we decided to ask him to weigh in on one topic of debate among fans: whether Arkansas needed an offensive-minded coach or a defensive-minded coach.
Campbell doesn’t think it matters.
“I think what matters is what type of person he is and the character and integrity and the commitment that he’s going to give to the state of Arkansas sand the fans and the team itself,” Campbell said. “I think all those things are more important than whether he coaches offense or defense. You can look at Nick Saban. He’s a defensive coach. Les Miles, I guess, was an offensive line coach. You can go either way you want to.”
And seemingly, that’s where Arkansas’ search is at -- a crossroads where Long could go one of two directions and still hit a home run.
But Campbell isn’t putting too much stock into what he’s hearing right now, which isn’t a lot “other than what people around here say.”
“From having been there, I know that nobody knows,” Campbell said with a laugh. “It’s just idle talk right now until it comes from the athletic director, so I don’t really keep up with it, no.”