UPDATED 3:29 p.m. ET: As it turns out, Arkansas may indeed be going the interim route, and with a very familiar face for good measure.
Following up on reports that really began gaining momentum earlier this afternoon, the Associated Press is reporting that current Weber State head coach and former UA assistant John L. Smith has been hired as the Razorbacks interim coach. Ironically, the man who Smith would be replacement, Bobby Petrino, was the replacement for Smith at Louisville early last decade.
Smith was just hired by Weber State in early December, so there will certainly be some negative press coming UA’s way.
The school has yet to confirm Smith’s hiring.
In addition to his stint with the Cardinals ((1998-2002), Smith has also been the head coach at Michigan State (2003-06). From 2009-11, Smith served as Petrino’s special teams coordinator at UA.
In the days and now weeks since Bobby Petrino‘s firing, the general consensus has been that Arkansas would — or should, to be more accurate — name an interim head coach for the 2012 season while at the same time searching for a permanent replacement.
Based on one report, however, the Razorbacks may go outside of the program, and do so much, much earlier than most had expected.
According to a tweet from Bo Mattingly of ESPN radio in Northwest Arkansas, a “new coach [is expected] to be announced this afternoon.” Not only that, but Mattingly writes the new coach “[w]ill not be anybody on current staff”, adding he’s “not expecting the word interim in [the] announcement.”
Just who that new coach from outside the program is unclear.
One of the rumors hurtling its way across the vast expanses of the Internet this morning was that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster (pictured) would be athletic director Jeff Long‘s selection as Petrino’s successor. That speculation was further advanced when Tech sent out a press release announcing a press conference had been scheduled for four this afternoon local time. As it turns out, that press conference will be held to announce the Hokies have parted ways with its men’s basketball coach.
Besides that, Foster reportedly hasn’t even spoken to UA, or vice versa.
“All the rumor mongers talking about Bud Foster leaving for Arkansas can stop,” Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post wrote in a tweet. “He just told me Razorbacks haven’t even contacted him.”
Another rumored name is San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
It should be noted that UA has yet to announce a press conference for this afternoon, or any other day for that matter. Attempts at a comment from the school on Mattingly’s report have thus far proved futile.
UPDATED 2:48 p.m. ET: It appears Mattingly’s report is gaining some traction.
According to KFSM/KXNW-TV in Fayetteville, “[t]he Razorback Foundation has approved a new contract for a new head football coach at the University of Arkansas.” As with the initial report, there’s no name attached to what is appeared to be a head coaching vacancy that’s filled.
(Photo credit: Arkansas athletic department)