Lunney promises to catch up quickly

Wednesday, December 29th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- There's a job waiting for Barry Lunney Jr. as an assistant coach at Tulsa, but Lunney is in no rush to join the Golden Hurricane. Lunney wants to see the Arkansas football team through to the end of the season in the Cotton Bowl.

Arkansas, where Lunney has been a graduate assistant coach for two years and previously was the quarterback, plays Texas in the bowl game Saturday in Dallas. "I'm very appreciative of coach (Keith) Burns allowing me to do this," Lunney said. "It's an opportunity I may never get to experience again. It's been hard. The coaches here have been giving me a hard time, saying that I'm thinking about Tulsa. That's where a lot of my thoughts are right now."

Burns hired Lunney as the new Tulsa running backs coach. Lunney said that as each day passes, he gets more anxious to get to Tulsa. Burns says Lunney "all the intangibles to be a great coach. He is a leader and a great people person." Burns was hired from Arkansas earlier. He had been the defensive coordinator and saw what Lunney had gone through as a graduate assistant.

Last year before the Citrus Bowl, Lunney was forced to coach the Razorback running backs when assistant Danny Nutt was out with brain surgery. Lunney worked with Nutt in coaching the backs in spring practice and also handled Nutt's recruiting duties before last year's February signing day. Lunney said that experience has prepared him for his new job. "It was different, no question about it," Lunney said. "I got the chance to experience a lot of things GA's at other schools don't get a chance to do. I think it's going to help me. I know it has. It was an unfortunate situation, but all I could is use that situation to my advantage."

Lunney said he would have followed Burns anywhere. And he knows it was hard for Burns to give him time to finish up with Arkansas because it puts Tulsa at a disadvantage as far as recruiting. But when the Arkansas-Texas game is over, Lunney says he will be working along with the rest of the Tulsa staff to turn the recruiting disadvantage into an advantage.