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John L. Smith officially out as Hogs’ head coach

Arkansas Mississippi St Football AP

After back-to-back September weekends that saw Arkansas lose to Louisiana-Monroe and get blown out by Alabama at home, it was widely assumed and presumed that there was no chance John L. Smith would be back as the Razorbacks’ head coach.

The day after UA’s season came to an end with its eighth loss in 12 games, the John L. era in Fayetteville is officially over.

In a press release, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long announced that he has informed Smith that the school “would be making a change in leadership within our football program.”  Smith was hired in the wake of the Bobby Petrino scandal and was given a short leash from the get-go; Smith signed a 10-month contract after leaving his alma mater Weber State, where he had just been hired as head coach for less than five months before leaving for the Hogs in April.

“I am very grateful to Chancellor (David) Gearhart and Jeff Long for the opportunity they gave me to return to the University of Arkansas and coach this football team,” Smith said in a statement. “I have enjoyed guiding this group and I am extremely proud of how everyone in our program stuck together and showed tremendous character by competing throughout the season. Everyone on our staff has my appreciation as they all believed in our goals and stayed committed to the development of these young men.

“I would like to thank the Razorback fans for demonstrating their support for these student-athletes and this coaching staff during a challenging time. I enjoyed every day of this experience and this profession has been and will continue to be rewarding to me. During my time here, it has been incredible to be a part of helping this program grow and I wish everyone involved nothing but success in the future.”

As for which direction Arkansas will turn for a permanent replacement for Petrino, several names have already been bandied about even before Smith’s official dismissal.  From ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden to Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn to Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes, there is no shortage of reported contenders for the position.

While obviously not getting into specifics, Long stated that the new leader of the Razorbacks football program would possess “honesty and integrity.”  In other words, the anti-Petrino.

“Last April, when I appointed Coach Smith for the 2012 season, I indicated I thought this would provide us the opportunity to take the time necessary to identify the right coach for the future and to do so in a time that would allow us to attract quality candidates,” Long’s statement read. “Our new coach will be an individual who shares the passion for success our fans do and who is willing to work relentlessly to achieve our goals.  It will be someone who embraces the expectations of winning a national championship and succeeding in the classroom with discipline, honesty and integrity. The leader of our student-athletes will continuously stress academic accountability and the value of earning a degree from the University of Arkansas. Our new coach will embrace what this program means not just to the university, but to the entire state of Arkansas and will share the vision for the future success of Razorback Football.”

There is no timeline for the announcement of the new hire, although Long said back in mid-October that he would like the coach in place by early December.

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11 Responses to “John L. Smith officially out as Hogs’ head coach”
  1. kozbee says: Nov 24, 2012 11:34 AM

    Smith is no BP but Ark has to see Smith had a bunch of crap dropped in his lap and alot of work getting the razorbacks back on track..

  2. jimbo75025 says: Nov 24, 2012 11:55 AM

    While I know this year was disappointing for Razorback fans, you guys should not blame it all on John L Smith. The man turned his back on his alma mater to coach there this season after BP threw a match in the dumpster. Not like there were candidates lined around the corner for that temp job.

  3. kdbroom says: Nov 24, 2012 12:20 PM

    I think John L. should get much of the blame. Sure, BP was fired and that created some problems, but it’s not like John L. inherited a bunch of mediocre players, or a team with a wholesale changeover in coaches requiring the implementation of new schemes. The team was in the BCS title race all of last year, and finished 2011 at 12-2. They returned most of their key players, the coaching staff was intact, and the schemes were completely implemented and understood by the players. Basically, the only change was swapping out BP for JLS, and they went from near the top of the conference to near the bottom. IMHO, the scandal wasn’t THAT big of a factor. If they had cleaned house with the entire coaching staff, like what Bama did when they canned Price and hired Shula, then I could understand. However, JLS simply had to steer a very sturdy ship through a media scandal. The media scandal wasn’t worth 8 less wins (2-3, even 4, maybe…8, no way).

  4. kdbroom says: Nov 24, 2012 12:21 PM

    11-2, 7 less wins. Still, you get my point.

  5. southernpatriots says: Nov 24, 2012 12:40 PM

    kdbroom: I gave you thumbs up (twice, ha.)…I don’t know the reason for the free fall of the Razorbacks. I love the rivalry LSU has with our neighbor to the north. I love to needle them with roasting a whole hog with the Arkansas official state fruit AND vegetables in its mouth (southern
    Arkansas yellow tomato) and their SUUUEEEY!

    I thought it was a combination of things…JLS primarily responsible. JLS was hired temporarily and did inherit a disillusioned team. The team was jolted by all the drama and press surrounding the Petrino scandal more than outsiders would know. But, it may be some things in addition to this that were internal to the team that were hinted at by Tyler and a few others during the season. I feel bad for Tyler and team. They did not deserve this.

  6. zurnvs says: Nov 24, 2012 12:44 PM

    Does Arkansas have the BALLS to make Patrino a candidate for the job? He can coach but his personal life suspect to say the least.

  7. brewcrewfan54 says: Nov 24, 2012 1:10 PM

    Why would it be ballsy to make Pertrino a candidate? It would be stupid and hypocritical. They said they wanted a guy with honesty and integrity, something they clearly don’t think Petrino is. Not to mention why would they fire him in the firstplace if they were just going to reconsider hiring him again?

  8. nickp91 says: Nov 24, 2012 1:18 PM

    So Arkansas is keeping John L. Smith on as a consultant

  9. jimbo75025 says: Nov 24, 2012 3:18 PM

    zurnvs says:
    Nov 24, 2012 12:44 PM
    Does Arkansas have the BALLS to make Patrino a candidate for the job? He can coach but his personal life suspect to say the least.

    Why would they want to? I am saying that Smith should not get all of the blame because it was not a simple matter of replacing one coach with another. If I remember correctly it was the middle of spring practice when the whole mess went down. Basically with his choices, Petrino screwed those kids (metaphorically of course) for the season.

  10. abninf says: Nov 24, 2012 8:52 PM

    Not a chance Gruden goes to the minor leagues. The suggestion is laughable.

  11. ogre2010 says: Nov 24, 2012 8:57 PM


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