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)

Kirk Ferentz adds Derrick Foster as 10th Iowa assistant

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As head coaches across the country continue to take advantage of the new 10th assistant rule, Kirk Ferentz is the latest to bolster the size of his staff.

Derrick Foster, the football program announced Tuesday, has been hired by Ferentz. While the school didn’t specify what position or positions for which Foster would be responsible, it did state that the hiring would allow tight ends coach/special teams coordinator LeVar Woods to concentrate on special teams.

That would seem to indicate Foster will be in charge of tight ends, which would mark his first on-field job at the FBS level.

“Derrick is an outstanding person and has built an impressive resume with experience at multiple levels of college football,” said Ferentz in a statement. “He has an impressive record of success on the recruiting trail that will strengthen and expand our existing efforts.”

Foster has spent the past two seasons as the running backs coach and running-game coordinator at FCS Stamford.  Prior to that, he was the running backs coach (2013) and wide receivers coach (2014-15) at Northwestern State.

“My wife, Bianca, and I are excited to be afforded this wonderful opportunity to become a part of the Iowa family as well as the Iowa City community,” said Foster. “Our journey is continuing, as this provides us with the opportunity to be part of a great staff and a University that is committed to excellence. I have a lot of respect for the stability and commitment of coach Ferentz and his longevity with the program. I feel fortunate and look forward to working with coach Ferentz and his dedicated staff.”

RB Abdul Adams leaves Oklahoma, lands at Syracuse

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‘Tis the season for transfers, with a Big 12 school the latest to feel its effect — and an ACC program the latest to benefit.

Syracuse confirmed in a press release Monday that Abdul Adams has joined Dino Babers‘ football program.  The running back had spent the past two seasons at Oklahoma, and offered a social media shoutout to Sooner Nation for the time he spent in Norman.

Adams will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws; beginning with the 2019 season, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.

This past season, Adams, a four-star 2016 signee, was third on the Sooners in rushing with 542, including a 99-yard touchdown run.  On his 59 rushes, Adams led the team at 9.2 yards per carry.  With OU’s top two rushers in Rodney Anderson (1,161 yards) and Trey Sermon (744) returning, though, Adams thought his best course was to take his leave of what’s seemingly an always-crowded Sooners backfield.

For his two-year career, Adams has run for 825 yards and a touchdown in 112 carries.

UCF’s undefeated team to be honored by NFL at Pro Bowl

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Now even the NFL is in on the gag.  Sort of.

As you no doubt know by now if you’re even a peripheral fan of college football, UCF kicked up quite the ruckus by very proudly and extremely loudly proclaiming themselves national champions after capping off a perfect 13-0 season by defeating Auburn, which beat both of the College Football Playoff game participants.  The football program went so far as to pay its assistants, now at Nebraska after following head coach Scott Frost out the door, the title bonuses they were entitled to contractually, with Disney World throwing the team a championship parade and even the state’s legislature egging the movement on.

Fast-forward to the here and now, and the NFL is getting set for this season’s Pro Bowl, which will be played in Orlando; the Knights, of course, play their home games in the same city. So, naturally, the NFL will honor the team during the game, although it’s expected the league will stop short of officially crowning their asses.

“When we thought about UCF and the amazing season they had going undefeated and their bowl game win, we thought there was really no better way, especially in the city of Orlando, to do something for that college celebration of football than to honor the UCF team in stadium on Sunday,” said Matt Shapiro, director of events strategy for the NFL, told the Orlando Sentinel. “I think we’re going to focus on their undefeated season. I don’t know that we’re going to get into the business of labeling them national champions. But we’re just excited to honor them and celebrate them.

According to the Sentinel, the players in attendance will be invited to walk on to the field at the end of the first quarter to be feted.  Just which players will be in attendance is unclear.

Ohio State promotes Ryan Day to offensive coordinator

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One Ohio State assistant remaining on Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff will apparently come at the expense of another, at least responsibility-wise.

After speculation surfaced over the weekend that Ryan Day was being wooed by an NFL team, it was reported Monday that the assistant would be staying with the Buckeyes.  Tuesday, OSU announced that Day, who just completed his first season as quarterbacks coach and c0-offensive coordinator, has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

That will no doubt raise some eyebrows as Kevin Wilson held the title of coordinator in 2017.  In explaining the move, the football program wrote that “Day will continue to coach the Ohio State quarterbacks and work with Kevin Wilson to lead the Ohio State offense with additional adjustments to [Wilson’s] responsibilities forthcoming.” It would seem those adjustments would at least partially revolve around play-calling, a responsibility that fell to Wilson on gamedays this past fall.

“Ryan is clearly a very talented coach who has been an outstanding addition to our program,” Meyer said in a statement. “He has been approached by other schools numerous times this off-season for coordinator and head coach opportunities, and by the National Football League for a coordinator opportunity. I am pleased that he has elected to continue to work on this staff and to lead, mentor and coach the terrific young men we have in this program.”

Day has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then again in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.