Razorbacks officially announce John L. Smith’s hiring

18 Comments

Following up on reports that first surfaced this afternoon, Arkansas has officially announced the hiring of John L. Smith as the Razorbacks head coach for the 2012 season.

Smith, who is leaving his post as Weber State’s head coach after less than five months on the job, has signed a 10-month letter of agreement with a compensation package of $850,000. The agreement will also make Smith eligible for performance and academic achievement incentives.

The agreement would technically carry Smith through Signing Day next February, although it’s highly likely UA will have a permanent replacement in place by that time.  From the release:

Long announced the University of Arkansas will continue to evaluate the program and the head coaching position in anticipation of naming a head coach following the 2012 season. The current appointment will allow the program to identify a head coach for the future of the program in a timeframe that is more conducive to attracting the potential candidates expected for one of the nation’s premier football head coaching positions.

A press conference to officially introduce Smith has been scheduled for 2 p.m. CT Tuesday.

Smith had been special teams coordinator under Bobby Petrino at UA for the past three seasons, prior to leaving for Weber in early December.  In a statement from athletic director Jeff Long on Smith’s hiring, it was actually the coach who first broached the subject of taking over on an interim basis.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Coach John L. Smith back to the Razorback program as our new head football coach,” Long said in the statement. “Coach Smith brings a wealth of football knowledge, BCS conference head coaching experience, passion for the game and a close familiarity with the current team and coaching staff. I firmly believe that his selection is in the best interests of the young men in our program and will also best serve the mission of our football program and university in achieving success on and off the field in the upcoming season and in the long term.

When Coach Smith first approached me about returning to Arkansas to serve in this position, he talked about his desire to be a part of the continued success of these student-athletes, this coaching staff and the Razorback program. He has been a part of the record-breaking success we have enjoyed in the past few seasons. Coach Smith understands the commitment our players have made to building upon that success and meeting the goals that have been set for the upcoming season. I also have a tremendous amount of confidence in our assistant coaches and believe that under Coach Smith’s leadership they will be able to continue to flourish in their current roles.”

Despite leaving his current employer with a head-coaching vacancy four months or so before the start of a new season, Smith, who had previously been a head coach at Louisville and Michigan State, expressed excitement over his return to Fayetteville.

“I am tremendously excited to have this special opportunity to return to Arkansas and lead the Razorback football program,” Smith said. “During my coaching career, I have always been dedicated to developing student-athletes to their fullest potential. In the last couple of weeks, I came to the realization I could provide guidance and stability to a program I’m extremely invested in. While at Arkansas, we worked to make the Razorbacks a top 5 team and much of the credit for that goes to the student-athletes.

“Throughout the spring, the assistant coaches and student-athletes have shown incredible focus and character, which we will use to build on as we work to achieve our goals for 2012. I want to thank President (Donald) Bobbitt, Chancellor (David) Gearhart and Jeff Long for the trust they have shown in me.”

Smith’s excitement aside, Arkansas is already being criticized for the Smith hire, but, really, what options were available to the program in mid-April? Yes, UA and Smith have taken shots — and rightly so — for the coach leaving Weber State four months or so after his hiring, but going this route is the common sense approach in what is a very difficult situation timing-wise.

Actually, it’s an outstanding move on two fronts, even if you are one of the ones who favored bringing in Phillip Fulmer as a one-year rental. One, Smith gives the Razorbacks a coach with head-coaching experience to lead them through the 2012 season. Given the timing, those types of candidates don’t exactly grow on trees.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the players are very familiar with Smith, so there will be a level of comfort and stability for both parties that would not have been there if UA had gone outside the program for a hire.  Case in point: Razorbacks running back Knile Davis.

“I don’t care what anyone says. [I’]m 100% behind John L Smith,” Davis wrote on his Twitter account prior to UA’s official announcement. “I’ll play for him any day of [the] week because he’s a good man and coach 14-0 or 0-14.”

Add the familiarity and the players’ excitement over the move in with Smith’s head-coaching experience, and you have what is a solid, short-term decision for the 2012 season by Long and the UA football program.

(Photo credit: Arkansas athletic department)

Mike MacIntyre, other Colorado officials dropped from lawsuit involving ex-Buffs assistant

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thursday was a very good day on the legal front for Colorado University.

In early September, Pamela Fine, the woman who alleged she was abused by former Colorado assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver in which she alleged assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress perpetrated by Tumpkin.  Additionally, she levied claims of negligence and civil conspiracy against head coach Mike MacIntyre, athletic director Rick George, chancellor Phil DiStefano and president Bruce Benson.

Thursday, the Boulder Daily Camera reported, all four of the CU officials, including MacIntyre, have been dismissed from the case by the federal judge presiding over the lawsuit.  The judge, William J. Martinez, “granted motions by the remaining defendants to dismiss the lawsuit against them, ruling that the university did not owe Fine a legal obligation because she was not affiliated with the school,” the Daily Camera wrote.

The portion of the lawsuit involving Tumpkin remains in place.

CU announced Jan. 27 of last year that Tumpkin, the Buffs’ safeties coach, had “resigned” his position in the midst of domestic violence allegations and was subsequently charged with multiple counts of assault.  Fine, Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend, had accused MacIntyre’s assistant of multiple acts of domestic violence dating back to 2015 and as recently as November of last year.  She obtained a permanent restraining order against Tumpkin, of which the university became aware Jan. 6 and initially triggered a suspension.

Despite knowledge of allegations that reportedly included 80 episodes of abuse — according to the alleged victim, she first went to MacIntyre’s wife — all parties, including the coach, his athletic director and his chancellor, agreed that Tumpkin would call the defensive plays in CU’s Dec. 29, 2016, bowl game in place of Jim Leavitt, who had taken the coordinator job at Oregon.  CU subsequently defended their actions, and MacIntyre did the same.

CU hired an outside law firm to investigate the program’s and university’s handling of the allegations, finding in part that MacIntyre was informed by Fine Dec. 9 of 2016 of a pattern of physical abuse suffered at the hands of Tumpkin.  In June of last year, disciplinary measures connected to that investigation were announced — MacIntyre and George were forced to donate $100,000 each to domestic violence causes while DiStefano was suspended for 10 days.

Starting Oregon State cornerback Xavier Crawford takes grad transfer to Central Michigan

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After joining Central Michigan this season as secondary coach, Cory Hall will see a very familiar face in his new meeting rooms moving forward.

On CMU’s most recently-updated online roster, Xavier Crawford is listed as a numberless 6-1, 190-pound defensive back; the player also mentions CMU football in his updated Twitter profile. Citing an Oregon State source, The Oregonian confirmed that Crawford had left the Beavers football program earlier this offseason, although no specific reason for the decision was given.

As Crawford joins the MAC program as a graduate transfer — he graduated from OSU in June — he will be eligible to play for the Chips immediately in 2018. Crawford will also have a year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 as well.

Crawford was a three-star prospect coming out of high school in California in 2014. His official OSU bio states that Crawford “[o]riginally signed a financial aid agreement with Oregon State in September 2014 and enrolled in January, thus he was considered a greyshirt.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, Crawford started all 12 games of the 2016 season for the Beavers. That season, he tied for the team lead in passes broken up with 10, while his 70 tackles were good for fourth.

Crawford started the first five games last year before going down with what turned out to be a season-ending back injury.

Jarrett Stidham tried recruiting Texas A&M after leaving Baylor, but Aggies weren’t as interested

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Well, this might sting a little for Texas A&M. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham shared his experience in the recruiting process at SEC Media Days in Atlanta, claiming to be the one trying to sell himself more to Texas A&M than Texas A&M tried recruiting him when Stidham opted to leave Baylor.

“Honestly, [former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin], he didn’t recruit me too hard,” Stidham said. “I probably tried to recruit myself to A&M a little harder. Just because it was in-state, it was right down the road from where I was there in Waco.”

Originally a four-star recruit of Baylor in the Class of 2015, Stidham transferred from Baylor in the wake of the sexual assault scandal with the program in the summer of 2016. Five months later, Stidham announced his decision to transfer to Auburn for the 2017 season. This will be Stidham’s second season starting for the Tigers after passing for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.

Why would Texas A&M not go after such a talented quarterback that was showing great interest in playing for them? It may because the urgency in adding a quarterback may not have felt like a pressing need for Texas A&M heading into the 2017 season. The Aggies had freshman Kellen Mond coming in as a five-star recruit in the Class of 2017. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but Mond appeared in 10 games for Texas A&M and completed 51.5 percent of his passes for 1,375 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions. He also rushed for 340 yards and three touchdowns for the Aggies.

Texas A&M went 7-6 last season, while Auburn knocked off both Alabama and Georgia in the regular season to advance to the SEC Championship Game. How many fans in College Station are wondering if the fate of the 2017 season would have been changed drastically if Sumlin decided Stidham would be his guy instead of Mond? Would it have made much of a difference for the Aggies (and for that matter, Auburn)?

As Stidham said to the media, it all worked out for him. Sumlin ended up losing his job and is now the head coach at Arizona, while former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is getting prepared for his season as the new (handsomely paid) head coach of Texas A&M.

If you were wondering, Stidham also completed 20-of-27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a 42-27 victory over Texas A&M in Kyle Field last November.

Battle with admissions results in UCLA granting release to 2018 signee

Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a bit of a drawn-out battle with the UCLA admissions department, safety and wide receiver prospect Bryan Addison is once again looking for a place to play some college football.

According to a report from Bruin Report Online, Addison has been given a full release from his scholarship by Chip Kelly and UCLA. The release comes after Addison decided he needed to start looking at other potential options with the fear his situation at UCLA would not get resolved in time to get enrolled at UCLA (or potentially at another college).

I had some issues with the college board and UCLA admissions,” Addison said in the report published by Bruin Report Online. “I have been fighting this for 5-6 weeks and things were a little slow to get going and time was running out for me. All the other freshmen were already enrolling and it was getting stressful for me.”

Where Addison is heading next remains to be seen, but he has apparently already been reviewing some possible offers from other Pac-12 schools including USC and Oregon as well as Big Ten member Nebraska. A decision could come soon as well, as Addison feels a need to get this taken care of so he can turn the page and get enrolled at his new school.

Fortunately for Addison, he will not be required to sit out a season this fall because he is not actually transferring. Because he was not enrolled at UCLA, his move to a new program does not qualify as an actual transfer. That means he will be eligible to play right away this fall at whatever school manages to bring him in before the 2018 season.