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)

David Shaw on LSU opening: Are you serious? The answer is no

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal reacts after a fumble by Francis Owusu #6 during the second quarter against the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl on September 24, 2016 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
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LSU opened up a high-profile head coaching vacancy on Sunday by removing head coach Les Miles as the head of the football program. As Miles was shown the door, the list of possible candidates started popping up just about everywhere you might look. Names like Houston’s Tom Herman and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher have been popular and trendy, but not so much for Stanford head coach David Shaw.

Asked about the new opening in Baton Rouge, Shaw was rather definitive in his stance.

Are you serious? The answer is no,” Shaw said, seemingly without hesitation according to ESPN reporter David Lombardi.

It should be mentioned that it is incredibly rare for a head coach in a current position with one program would even drop a hint of interest in another position elsewhere, so keep that in mind as coaches like Herman and Fisher deny having any contact with LSU and so on during the annual coaching carousel. That said, Shaw leaving Stanford would be a pretty good shock, so we can probably take Shaw at his word here.

Torn ACL brings end of 2016 season for Michigan CB Jeremy Clark

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  A Michigan Wolverines flag is carried during the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Wildcats defeated the Wolverines 31-14.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh announced senior cornerback Jeremy Clark will not play another down this season. Clark suffered a torn ACL in a blowout win against Penn State on Saturday while on special teams duty.

With Clark no longer an option for the defense, Harbaugh mentioned a few players as possible replacements for the rest of the season; Brandon Watson, Lavert Hill, and David Long.

Harbaugh also said the school will petition the NCAA to see if they can get a sixth year of eligibility for Clark. Players are eligible to apply for a medical redshirt of a season-ending injury occurs in the first third of the regular season, which Michigan’s fourth game would qualify for. Clark has already used a redshirt season at Michigan.

Tennessee video team scores a win over Florida and makes friends with Oregon

Smokey feeds ducks
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When you go out on a limb and guarantee a victory, you better hope you and your team can back it up. Otherwise, your statements could come back to haunt you. The folks in Tennessee had a little fun at the expense of Florida defensive back Quincy Wilson this week after the Vols came from behind to beat Florida in a key SEC East Division game in Knoxville. The win brought an end to an 11-year losing streak Tennessee had going against their division rivals from Florida, which was cause for celebration alone, but being able to capitalize on a golden quote served up by Wilson a few days prior to the game ensured yet another victory on social media.

“Have you ever seen a duck pull a truck? Ducks don’t pull trucks,” Wilson said in the days leading up to Florida’s game at Tennessee. “Nobody has ever seen a duck pull a truck. Florida Gators are going to win, simple as that.”

As that particular quote started making the rounds around the college football world, the Oregon Ducks of all programs decided to weigh in on the rivalry smack talk by sharing a video of the Oregon mascot pulling a truck…

So, it was only fitting that after Tennessee snapped its losing streak against the Gators and made Wilson eat some crow for his duck metaphor, the video production team at Tennessee had a little fun with everything that transpired. It would appear that Smokey, Tennessee’s mascot, appreciated the support from Oregon and is now repaying the favor.

Well done, Tennessee video team!

QB Luke Del Rio “highly doubtful” for Florida’s next game

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Luke Del Rio #14 of the Florida Gators in action during the first half of the game against the North Texas Mean Green at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images
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The Florida Gators do not appear to be optimistic about quarterback Luke Del Rio being available for their next game against Vanderbilt this weekend. Florida announced Del Rio is “highly doubtful” for this weekend’s game after missing this past weekend’s game at Tennessee.

Del Rio suffered a left knee injury two weeks ago against North Texas, forcing him to miss last weekend’s game against the Vols. Florida expects to be able to work Del Rio back into the practice routine starting Tuesday and will continue to monitor his progress as they make sure he is good to go before testing him in a game.

“I would say he’d be highly doubtful for this week,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said Monday. “But I’m still not going to count him out.”

Austin Appleby stepped in to get his first start at Florida since transferring from Purdue when he took the field on Saturday at Tennessee. It is expected Appleby will once again get the start against Vanderbilt. Del Rio visited with the team and was in a uniform last weekend, more so he could communicate and help Appleby out as best he possibly could from the sideline.