John L. continues tripping, stumbling toward unemployment line

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In every sense of the word, the last couple of months for John L. Smith have been an unmitigated disaster.

Smith, hired on a 10-month contract as Arkansas’ head coach in the wake of the Bobby Petrino scandal, has seen his Razorbacks start the season 1-3, with all of the losses coming at home and two in embarrassing fashion — an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe and a 52-0 throttling at the hands of Alabama, the former which ended with Smith not shaking hands with the winning coach and the latter prompting injured starting quarterback Tyler Wilson to label some of his teammates as quitters.

The on-field gloom and doom prompted Smith, in the aftermath of the Tide evisceration, to bizarrely demand of the media “Smile!… If not, I’m not talking!”

Off the field, Smith has filed for bankruptcy — documents showed he had just hundreds of dollars at his disposal and $25.7 million in liabilities — and, last week, flew to Idaho midweek to bury a younger brother who had passed away.  And then came Monday.

Speaking at a Little Rock Touchdown Club gathering, Smith implored those in attendance to “don’t give up on us,” punctuating his statement by proclaiming “It’s our program, it’s a state of Alabama program, it’s not one individual’s program.”

Oy.  The loquacious Smith, though, wasn’t done.

A fan in attendance asked the head coach whether he thought Petrino would coach at Kentucky or Auburn.  Instead of simply brushing off the question since, ya know, both programs currently have head coaches, Smith decided to deep-throat the bait.

“I think UK would be in there, but my best guess would be Auburn,” Smith said.

Oy, the sequel.  Yes, both AU’s Gene Chizik and UK’s Joker Phillips have come under fire this season, particularly the latter.  Smith, though, simply can’t answer a question like that and in the process add another couch or two to the raging inferno that is the Razorbacks football program.

These verbal missteps and everything else surrounding the coach would be mitigated immensely by on-field success, something that, unfortunately, has proven elusive for Smith.  In his past 23 games as a head coach — four at Arkansas, 19 at Michigan State in 2005-06 — Smith is an abysmal 6-17.

That won’t suffice at nearly any level of major college football, let alone the hyper-competitive SEC.  Given everything that’s happened the past couple of months, it’s become a matter of when, not if, the guillotine falls on Smith.

Todd Graham subtly names Manny Wilkins starting QB at ASU, says Barnett will have to win the job

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Arizona State picked up a nice addition to the depth chart with the addition of quarterback Blake Barnett this past winter. Barnett was given the chance to be immediately eligible to play for Arizona State this season rather than have to sit out a season, but he will have to get to work in order to win the starting job with the Sun Devils if Todd Graham‘s latest comments are accurate.

Speaking to media today at a facilities tour, Graham was asked about the quarterback competition. Graham not-so-subtly named Manny Wilkins the team’s starter for the 2017 season, barring any other changes between now and the start of the season.

“I didn’t make an announcement, I just didn’t want our opponent know who was going to play but I thought our opponent knew, I think everybody knew,” Graham said, referring to a season-opening game against New Mexico State. “We have a returning starter and he’s the starting quarterback until someone beats him out.”

Perhaps most notably, one of the quarterbacks who will look to knock Wilkins off the top of the depth chart will be Barnett, the transfer from Alabama who was a major recruit for the Crimson Tide not so long ago. Barnett started the  2016 season as Alabama’s official starter but lost the full-time job to Jalen Hurts right out of the gate with a shaky performance in the season opener while Hurts put on a show (and led Alabama to the national championship game). Barnett then opted to leave the program in search of a new opportunity to compete for the starting job.

“Right now, we have a starting quarterback and Blake knows he has to beat him out,” Graham said. “I’m looking forward to see that competition and a very physical, Sun Devil tough training camp.”

Report: Alabama RB B.J. Emmons, CB Aaron Robinson leaving program

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The Alabama Crimson Tide may not be hurting on the depth chart as a result, but two players are leaving the program in search of other opportunities. Running back B.J. Emmons and cornerback Aaron Robinson are both leaving Tuscaloosa, according to a report from AL.com.

As the news was breaking, multiple reports say Emmons has enrolled at Hutchinson Community College. Emmons missed some games last season due to a foot injury, but he is expected to be back to 100 percent health this fall. Of course, at Alabama, the running back position is stacked and difficult to get much playing time to begin with. Robinson was also expected to be a backup for Alabama this fall after working with the second team unit in the spring.

Emmons was Alabama’s fifth-leading rusher in 2016 with 173 yards and a touchdown in seven games. Robinson appeared in 13 games and recorded five total tackles as a freshman.

Both Emmons and Robinson will be eligible to play for another FBS program starting in 2018 after sitting out the 2017 season, due to NCAA transfer rules. They are eligible to play at a lower division school this fall, whether it is an FCS or lower program or a junior college. The junior college route appears to be the path Emmons is taking by enrolling at a community college.

Fifth member of Jim McElwain’s first recruiting class at Florida to transfer

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Florida’s secondary continues to face some depth concerns ahead of the 2017 season. The depth chart lost Chris Williamson, multiple reports confirmed today, who is opting to transfer to a new school.

The former four-star defensive back was recently guided through a position change to pad the depth at the safety position this spring. Williamson has spent the past two seasons in Gainesville and has appeared in 14 games with one start. He came to Florida as part of the first recruiting class signed by Gators head coach Jim McElwain in 2015, and he is now the fifth player from that class to transfer, according to Inside the Gators.

From Inside the Gators;

Williamson is the fifth player from Jim McElwain’s inaugural recruiting class at Florida in 2015 to transfer from the program, joining running back Jordan Cronkrite (USF), offensive lineman Brandon Sandifer, tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe (USC) and tight end/linebacker Camrin Knight (Georgia State).

The news of Williamson’s intent to transfer comes on the same day Florida revealed it will be without safety Marcell Harris for the 2017 season. Harris suffered a torn Achilles tendon that will force the fifth-year senior to miss the entire 2017 season.

Williamson will have to sit out the 2017 college football season if he transfers to another FBS program, according to NCAA transfer rules. He will be eligible to play immediately this fall if he transfers to a program at the FCS level or below.

Report: Joe Flacco’s brother no longer part of the Western Michigan program

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P.J. Fleck may not be the only person leaving Western Michigan this year. It appears as though quarterback Tom Flacco could also be out.

As reported by Andy Pepper of WWMT-TV, via Twitter, Flacco has left the football program for what is now undisclosed reasons. The school has not announced or confirmed this development, but Hustle Belt has noted Flacco’s name is nowhere to be found on the team’s roster on the school’s official website.

Where Flacco goes next is anybody’s guess at this point. If he does end up transferring to another program, he will do so with two years of eligibility to use after sitting out the 2017 season. He would be eligible to play immediately this fall if he ends up at a lower division football program.

Flacco is the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback and former Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco. Maybe Tom is following in his brother’s footsteps. Joe Flacco started his collegiate career at Pittsburgh. After backing up Tyler Palko in 2004, Flacco opted to transfer to Delaware, where he helped get the Blue Hens to a national championship game, where they lost to the same Appalachian State that upset Michigan in 2007.