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Smith on future with Arkansas: ‘The season is going to dictate that’

John L. Smith

One day after being approved for a 10-month contract worth $850,000, John L. Smith was introduced as Arkansas’ new head coach.

For 2012 only.

As many have opined, John included, this is about as unorthodox as it gets when it comes to coaching hires. Forget that Weber State is a lower division job for a minute — not to mention Smith’s alma mater — there aren’t too many instances that come to mind when you try to remember the time that one head coach willingly left a program for a 10-month contract and no (public) guarantee of future employment beyond the length of said contract.

“This search was especially [unique]” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said today at Smith’s introductory press conference.

I’d say. Long added that having Smith in place this year will allow Arkansas ample time to conduct a thorough coaching search for the long-term future of the program. And, to top it all off, Smith apparently approached Long on the advice of his wife about the opportunity to act as a one-year head coach, not the other way around.

You can color me skeptical regarding who approached whom, by the way.

That’s not to say a one-year deal is a bad opportunity for Smith. After all, the term “interim” could be removed from his title if things go well this year. “We’ll have to wait and see,” Smith said about his chances of being UA’s long-term coach. “Only the season is going to dictate that.”

Even if Arkansas goes in another direction following the end of the 2012-13 season, a successful stint with the Razorbacks could launch Smith back into the coaching carousel of major college football, or maybe he lands a decent non-AQ gig. Smith’s contract also says he can be moved into a non-coaching administrative role with the program.

“You’ve done this your entire life,” Smith’s wife, Diana, told him. “This may be the only chance you have left. You’re going back.”

But there’s a part of me that just can’t grasp that Smith would agree to a job as Arkansas’ substitute teacher without some backchannel assurance from Long that he would, at the very least, be a serious contender for it beyond this year. And therein lies the issue: John L. Smith shouldn’t be the long-term solution.

Then again, this whole process has been a 180 from the traditional coaching hire where suddenly contract work has a more short-term meaning. “No one could have foreseen this happening,” Smith said.

In following a coach notorious for lies, truer words were never spoken.

(photo courtesy of Arkansas athletic department) 

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10 Responses to “Smith on future with Arkansas: ‘The season is going to dictate that’”
  1. jimbo75025 says: Apr 24, 2012 4:50 PM

    I am curious of Long’s salary at WS? If in the 500K range, bad move/gamble for 850K for 1 year. He should have gotten a provision if not HC in 2013 then a million $ or something. If Arky bombs this year he most likely could not get another HC gig anywhere.

  2. Ben Kercheval says: Apr 24, 2012 4:56 PM


    If I’m remembering this correctly, it was somewhere in the ballpark of $180,000. And I’m assuming you meant Smith, not Long, yes?

  3. pdcooper08 says: Apr 24, 2012 7:20 PM

    $180,000 sounds right for Weber a IAA school. It was a good move if it was about Finances. The guy is old and stated the Weber job would be his last. Got to think he really believes there’s a chance for a title run with this group. Who knows, he’s one and done either way.

  4. mountaineer50415 says: Apr 24, 2012 7:56 PM

    Well at least we can all agree about one thing. If you do not believe anything else, the Bible was right about one thing. “The lust of money is the root of all evil”.
    Who knows, if that is correct, maybe we should read more!!!!! Can’t hurt.

  5. kozbee says: Apr 24, 2012 10:56 PM

    BP will never coach @ Arkansas again & Smith is just a handicap trying to find the handle on a coaching career once again.Both losers.

  6. wabbitslayer says: Apr 25, 2012 6:43 AM

    So he’s saying that he understands the team’s performance this season may decide whether or not he is coaching it next year.


  7. jimbo75025 says: Apr 25, 2012 12:20 PM

    Ben Kercheval says:
    Apr 24, 2012 4:56 PM

    If I’m remembering this correctly, it was somewhere in the ballpark of $180,000. And I’m assuming you meant Smith, not Long, yes?

    Yup, sorry about that-post was done early in morning here on the other side of the world.

    180K is all? I now kind of question what his salary was at Ark. before he left? Assistant coaches in the SEC are not exactly living on slave wages so I gotta think was somewhere in that ballpark anyway. Guess he just wanted to be a HC anywhere in the end.

  8. JCM1217 says: Apr 25, 2012 2:00 PM

    Well, if his “best” option after last season was Weber State and he has an opportunity to audition to other schools with a team that has National Championship aspirations, it’s a good move. It’s like an internship… it’s an opportunity to build his resume and increase his market value.

    Worst case scenario, he made an additional ~$600K. Best case scenario, he wins a National Championship and gets a much more lucrative contract next year.

  9. imaduffer says: Apr 25, 2012 7:03 PM

    ” Best case scenario, he wins a National Championship and gets a much more lucrative contract next year.”

    I just blew milk out of my nose!

  10. lakesidegator says: Apr 30, 2012 4:16 AM

    If Smith and family are used to living a $180,000 lifestyle, they ought to be able to sock away a nice chunk over the next ten months. And a chance to extend it even further if he has some success. No problemo. Good luck to the Hogs.
    Go ebb some Tide.

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