This afternoon, the University of Arkansas hired John L. Smith to a one-year contract as interim head coach of the Razorback football program. He will replace Bobby Petrino, the former head coach who was fired in disgrace on April 10, 2012.
Coach Smith was on Petrino's staff for three years at Arkansas, coaching special teams, but departed this past December 2011 to take the head coaching position at FCS school Weber State, his alma mater. He also coached with Petrino at Michigan State, Louisville and Utah State.
What does this mean for Arkansas Razorbacks football?
What does Coach Smith bring to the table?
Does Coach Smith have a shot of becoming the permanent head coach after the 2012 season?
Let's analyze the implications of Coach Smith's hiring.
Let's face it: The firing of Bobby Petrino was sudden and shook the football program down to it's core. Whenever someone of Petrino's stature departs without any warning whatsoever, it is crucial that the athletic director make the right choice to replace him, and Jeff Long may have made a very smart move.
Coach Smith may not be Arkansas' first choice, and remember that his contract is only for one year with an "interim" tag to his title. This gives A.D. Long two important options: He can search for the right candidate during this transition period, and/or he can determine if Coach Smith is the right person to be the permanent head coach.
Furthermore, Coach Smith is very familiar with the program. He has only been gone since December, and he knows the players and system quite well. He will surely allow the coaching staff a wide berth when it comes to practices, preparations for and performance on game days.
Purportedly, Coach Smith prefers the comfort and luxury of automobiles and stays away from motorcycles. Thank the Lord above because in Fayetteville, riding Hogs can get you in to serious trouble in more ways than one.
The last thing the Arkansas Razorback coaching staff needed after losing head coach Bobby Petrino was a player revolt. Hiring Coach Smith should prevent that from happening. Mind you, we are not talking about an uprising, but too much change in such a short period of time could cause current players to shut down mentally.
Coach Smith knows most of the players on the team, and having coached special teams for three years he knows the younger players that fought for playing time. He was well-liked, and this should ease tensions that may have been growing in the locker room.
No one can ever say that Coach Smith isn't an emotional coach. Take a look at the video above; he calls it like he sees it.
The team already knows Coach Smith, and respect is something that is sorely needed right now in Fayetteville. After the Petrino debacle, a little emotion and respect for the head coach isn't a bad thing right now.
Coach Smith has experience as a head coach:
- Idaho (1989-94)
- Utah State (1995-97)
- Louisville (1998-2002)
- Michigan State (2003-06)
- Weber State (2011-12)
Obviously, the Weber State gig was brief and without Smith coaching one snap of football, but he did help rebuild Louisville and led the Spartans to a 23-26 record before getting the axe in East Lansing.
His overall coaching record is 132-86 (.606), and he was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2003.
Coach Smith may be the perfect solution to the Razorbacks' dilemma in 2012. However, after the 2012 season is yet to be seen; stay tuned.