Arkansas Football: Bobby Petrino Endorses the John L. Smith Hire

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 24, 2012

Former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino
Former Arkansas head coach Bobby PetrinoWesley Hitt/Getty Images

Arkansas' decision to hire John L. Smith to a 10-month contract certainly came out of left field, but after getting over the initial shock, I think it's a good move. 

Former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino isn't the man that Arkansas fans want to hear from at the moment, but that didn't stop him from releasing a statement on Monday night.

The statement read (via

I think Jeff Long made a great hire. While there were several outstanding internal candidates, John L. brings a lot of head coaching experience to the table that will help Arkansas transition. He will unify the staff, the team and the Razorback fan base. I wish Coach Smith, his staff and the Arkansas football team the very best.

One thing immediately jumps out of Petrino's statement: It's clear that the reason Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long chose to hire from within was to maintain continuity. Arkansas is a national title contender no matter who's the head coach, and Smith is the only candidate who had both familiarity with the current state of the program and head coaching experience at a big-time college football program.

But the overwhelming response I had when the statement was released was, "Why would he even release it?"

Petrino has brought an enormous level of embarrassment to the University of Arkansas. Does he really need to say anything? I don't think so. 

My colleague Michael Felder over at Your Best 11 thinks that Petrino's absence from college football will be short-lived, and that's the precise reason that he released this statement. He wants to be visible and make sure that his name is out there in support of his successor, even though his support is neither needed nor wanted by the University of Arkansas.