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Surprise? Ex-Arkansas coaches agree players quit on 2012 season

John L Smith AP

Following a 52-0 loss to Alabama in Week 3 of the 2012 season, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson actively sought media members to deliver what he felt was an important statement: that the team had simply given up.

“Do I feel that we, at times, gave up out there? Yeah, absolutely,” a frustrated Wilson said.

Wilson did not play against the Tide because of a concussion, and if someone recovering from getting his brain scrambled could comprehend what was happening on the field, certainly a person with a fully functioning one could as well.

In an interview with the Sporting News, three ex-Arkansas coaches — interim coach John L. Smith, defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino — essentially agreed with Wilson’s evaluation, albeit in a much softer tone.

“There were some seniors who kind of hung it up, to be honest with you,” Petrino said. “They were going to worry about their futures more than that team. A couple seniors said they were hurt and I don’t know if they really were.”

“I think some of the players, some of the older guys, said, ‘Why should I continue on?’ They were looking ahead to the NFL,” Smith added.

“I don’t fault the kids for thinking that way,” Haynes told the SN. “Again, there was no stability there. Again, it goes back to, ‘Who am I playing for?’ Once they can’t say, ‘We’re trying to save the coaches’ jobs’—if they’re just playing for the university, sometimes kids feel the university let them down.”

No one from Arkansas commented in the story.

Reinforcement that some of Arkansas’ players quit on the season shouldn’t come as a shock — that was there for all to see and you could logically argue that JLS eventually quit too — but it’s always interesting to hear a coach’s perspective on why things went wrong. The Razorbacks looked to have a team ready to legitimately challenge Alabama and LSU for the SEC West title in 2012. Jeff Long‘s decision to hire Smith on a 10-month basis after firing Bobby Petrino indicated quite clearly there was a feeling of “if not now, when?” And nothing, not even a coaching change, was going to get in the way of those high expectations.

But that unorthodox move backfired and it would be surprising to see another program follow in Long’s footsteps if ever placed in a similar situation.

Or, in Paul Petrino’s words, “They should’ve hired (Smith) for two years or hired someone else for two years, or just (expletive)-canned all of us.”

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7 Responses to “Surprise? Ex-Arkansas coaches agree players quit on 2012 season”
  1. jimbo75025 says: Jan 30, 2013 11:41 PM

    The season for Arkansas was ruined when Petrino decided to get a reach-around and crashed his bike. While that whole mess was certainly not the fault of the players, the way the season played out did highlight the lack of leadership within the team itself. Lot of talent went to waste for Arkansas in 2012.

  2. dmvtransplant says: Jan 30, 2013 11:56 PM

    @ jimbo75025

    I have to disagree I think the lack of leadership was on Arkansas’s AD for not coming up with a real solution to a real problem. Anybody other than John L. Smith or Charlie Weiss would have at least gone to a bowl game.

  3. kozbee says: Jan 30, 2013 11:59 PM

    If they are the type to give up in college then whose to say they would do the same in the Pros.Kids like that don`t deserve a free ride in college to the millions in the pros.

  4. jimbo75025 says: Jan 31, 2013 12:17 AM

    @dmvtransplant
    I see where you are coming from, but no coach worth their salt is going to bolt in April. Petrinos actions started the ball rolling but the players were still obligated to perform to the maximum of their abilities.

    With the number of upperclassen on the team, a strong leader or two on the team maybe could have avoided the public calling out. After all, the OC/DC did not change and they are the ones actually calling the plays (yes Petrino did have great input on offense but enough for a 7 or 8 game swing?)

  5. badintent says: Jan 31, 2013 12:44 AM

    It cuts both ways. College coaches quit on their teams all the time to take NFL and other higher paying college jobs.

  6. mikefoxtrottango says: Jan 31, 2013 11:02 AM

    Let’s see…

    They managed to rout Auburn on the road and destroy Kentucky. Both bad teams, sure, but still, Arkansas beat these SEC schools convincingly.

    Also, they beat an 11-3 Tulsa team.

    Late in the season, they went toe-to-toe against a solid LSU team, losing by just a TD.

    Doesn’t sound like they gave up to me.

    However…

    They were embarrassed at home by 52 points against Alabama. Two weeks later, Texas A&M pushed their #^%@ in, beating them by 48.

    The players didn’t give up. They just stunk — and it sounds like the coaches don’t want to take ownership for an awful season.

  7. kozbee says: Jan 31, 2013 1:46 PM

    @ mikefoxtrottango

    Most high school teams could of beat Auburn and Kentucky the way they played.During the season when two teams such as LSU beating Bama then in the NC getting shutout imo something was wrong in that game also.Teams such as Arkansas imo did lay down after Petrino left.JMHO

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