John L. Smith

Razorbacks officially announce John L. Smith’s hiring

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Following up on reports that first surfaced this afternoon, Arkansas has officially announced the hiring of John L. Smith as the Razorbacks head coach for the 2012 season.

Smith, who is leaving his post as Weber State’s head coach after less than five months on the job, has signed a 10-month letter of agreement with a compensation package of $850,000. The agreement will also make Smith eligible for performance and academic achievement incentives.

The agreement would technically carry Smith through Signing Day next February, although it’s highly likely UA will have a permanent replacement in place by that time.  From the release:

Long announced the University of Arkansas will continue to evaluate the program and the head coaching position in anticipation of naming a head coach following the 2012 season. The current appointment will allow the program to identify a head coach for the future of the program in a timeframe that is more conducive to attracting the potential candidates expected for one of the nation’s premier football head coaching positions.

A press conference to officially introduce Smith has been scheduled for 2 p.m. CT Tuesday.

Smith had been special teams coordinator under Bobby Petrino at UA for the past three seasons, prior to leaving for Weber in early December.  In a statement from athletic director Jeff Long on Smith’s hiring, it was actually the coach who first broached the subject of taking over on an interim basis.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Coach John L. Smith back to the Razorback program as our new head football coach,” Long said in the statement. “Coach Smith brings a wealth of football knowledge, BCS conference head coaching experience, passion for the game and a close familiarity with the current team and coaching staff. I firmly believe that his selection is in the best interests of the young men in our program and will also best serve the mission of our football program and university in achieving success on and off the field in the upcoming season and in the long term.

When Coach Smith first approached me about returning to Arkansas to serve in this position, he talked about his desire to be a part of the continued success of these student-athletes, this coaching staff and the Razorback program. He has been a part of the record-breaking success we have enjoyed in the past few seasons. Coach Smith understands the commitment our players have made to building upon that success and meeting the goals that have been set for the upcoming season. I also have a tremendous amount of confidence in our assistant coaches and believe that under Coach Smith’s leadership they will be able to continue to flourish in their current roles.”

Despite leaving his current employer with a head-coaching vacancy four months or so before the start of a new season, Smith, who had previously been a head coach at Louisville and Michigan State, expressed excitement over his return to Fayetteville.

“I am tremendously excited to have this special opportunity to return to Arkansas and lead the Razorback football program,” Smith said. “During my coaching career, I have always been dedicated to developing student-athletes to their fullest potential. In the last couple of weeks, I came to the realization I could provide guidance and stability to a program I’m extremely invested in. While at Arkansas, we worked to make the Razorbacks a top 5 team and much of the credit for that goes to the student-athletes.

“Throughout the spring, the assistant coaches and student-athletes have shown incredible focus and character, which we will use to build on as we work to achieve our goals for 2012. I want to thank President (Donald) Bobbitt, Chancellor (David) Gearhart and Jeff Long for the trust they have shown in me.”

Smith’s excitement aside, Arkansas is already being criticized for the Smith hire, but, really, what options were available to the program in mid-April? Yes, UA and Smith have taken shots — and rightly so — for the coach leaving Weber State four months or so after his hiring, but going this route is the common sense approach in what is a very difficult situation timing-wise.

Actually, it’s an outstanding move on two fronts, even if you are one of the ones who favored bringing in Phillip Fulmer as a one-year rental. One, Smith gives the Razorbacks a coach with head-coaching experience to lead them through the 2012 season. Given the timing, those types of candidates don’t exactly grow on trees.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the players are very familiar with Smith, so there will be a level of comfort and stability for both parties that would not have been there if UA had gone outside the program for a hire.  Case in point: Razorbacks running back Knile Davis.

“I don’t care what anyone says. [I’]m 100% behind John L Smith,” Davis wrote on his Twitter account prior to UA’s official announcement. “I’ll play for him any day of [the] week because he’s a good man and coach 14-0 or 0-14.”

Add the familiarity and the players’ excitement over the move in with Smith’s head-coaching experience, and you have what is a solid, short-term decision for the 2012 season by Long and the UA football program.

(Photo credit: Arkansas athletic department)

DB Davon Jacobs decides to transfer from Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 01: Davon Jacobs #29 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tackles Jordan Fredrick #9 of the Wisconsin Badgers in the second quarter at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 1, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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Another day, another player who’s decided to move on from his college football starting point.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, nj.com is reporting that senior defensive back Davon Jacobs has decided to transfer out of first-year head coach Chris Ash’s football program.  The fact that Jacobs had fallen behind on the safety depth chart this spring.

Jacobs is entering his fifth-year season, but he has yet to graduate.  So, if he wants to finish his career at the FBS level, he’d need to graduate this summer.  If not, he could drop down to the FCS level and be eligible to play immediately in 2016.

Last season, Jacobs started the first three games before being sidelined with a concussion.  He came back to start one more game before being reinjured and missing the remainder of the season.

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2012, Jacobs played in 25 games the next two seasons.  Included in that was a pair of starts, one each in 2013 and 2014.

Baylor issues statement in wake of president’s reported ouster

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 06:  Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr runs onto the field with the Baylor Line before their game against the  Kansas State Wildcats on December 6, 2014  at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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It appears the reports of the demise of Baylor’s president are, at least for now, premature.

Tuesday morning the college football world awoke to the news that BU was expected to remove Ken Starr as the university’s president before the end of the month, if not sooner.  The latter seemed to come to fruition as, a short time after HornsDigest.com released that report, the recruiting website updated to state that the school’s Board of Regents had indeed fired Starr.

Starr, in his sixth year as president, had been mentioned in a damning Outside the Lines report earlier this month as having been aware of at least one instance of assault involving a Bears football player and did nothing.

A short time after the Scout.com report surfaced this morning, Baylor released a statement in which Starr is not mentioned specifically, but the timeline for a public response to an independent report on the university’s handling of sexual assault allegations involving football players was detailed.

The Baylor Board of Regents continues its work to review the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation and we anticipate further communication will come after the Board completes its deliberations.  We will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources, but when official news is available, the university will provide it.  We expect an announcement by June 3.

Injury-plagued Utah TE Evan Moeai says he’s getting fifth year

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 3: Close up view of the new satin red football helmets worn by the Utah Utes during their game against the Michigan Wolverines at  Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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Finally, a break has gone Utah’s Evan Moeai‘s way.

On the very first play from scrimmage during the 2014 season opener, Moeai sustained what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury.  A year later, in the 2015 opener, the tight end went down with yet another season-ending injury.

According to the Deseret News, Moeai posted on his private Instagram account that he has received a fifth season of eligibility from the NCAA.  The Utes have yet to confirm the development, although it’s one that’s been expected.

Moeai began his collegiate career at the JUCO level, then played in three games during his first season with the Utes in 2013.  He, obviously, played in one game each of the last two seasons.

Moeai caught one pass for five yards in 2015 before he went down with his second season-ending injury.

Ex-Ohio State lineman to continue career at Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 13:  Fans of the Cincinnati Bearcats cheer on their team at the start of the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Nippert Stadium on November 13, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Less than two weeks after leaving Ohio State, Grant Schmidt has a new college football home — and he won’t even have to leave the state to get there.

Citing university sources, the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that Schmidt will continue his collegiate playing career at Cincinnati.  The offensive lineman had indicated earlier this month that the Bearcats would be his landing spot.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Schmidt will be forced to sit out the 2016 season.  He would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

A three-star member of OSU’s 2015 recruiting class, 247Sports.com rated Schmidt as the No. 52 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 1 player at any position in the state of South Dakota.  Schmidt was the first player from that state to sign with the Buckeyes, but he failed to become the first to play in a game as he didn’t see the field during his brief stint in Columbus.

Schmidt’s mid-May move was believed to be related to a logjam along the offensive line and his failure to make a dent on the depth chart during spring practice.