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.