John L. Smith: Bobby Petrino Wise to Endorse His Replacement at Arkansas

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2012

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The Arkansas Razorbacks are looking to start fresh after the fallout from the Bobby Petrino scandal, and hiring John L. Smith to replace Petrino was a good start. 

Some will disagree with the decision, but the former Arkansas head coach isn't one of them. According to Chris Bahn of, Petrino issued a statement through his agent praising the Razorbacks' hire of Smith. 

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.

Petrino did the right thing here by endorsing a guy that he used to coach with. While it was unlikely that Petrino was going to bash the new hire, you never know with him. 

A case could be made that Petrino shouldn't have said anything at all since it would be best for the former coach to disassociate himself with the program. 

However, releasing a positive and upbeat statement like this shows that Petrino cares. While it was through his agent and there's no way to prove this is exactly how Petrino feels, it's what we have to go on, and that's good enough. 

Petrino truly is sorry for what happened and he wishes Arkansas well. Completely taking himself away from the program and never speaking about it would make it sound as if Petrino never gave a damn about his tenure in Fayetteville.

That would be the wrong thing to do, so a simple statement about the hiring of Smith is just fine. 

If you happen to disagree with Petrino's thoughts on Smith, then you're going against a couple of great football minds. Petrino likes the hire, and so does LSU head coach Les Miles. 

In the SEC coaches teleconference today, Miles was up first and answered a question on Arkansas' interim coach. Bleacher Report's SEC lead blogger Barrett Sallee tweeted what Miles had to say.

Miles on John L. Smith: "He will provide Arkansas the leadership they need. There's a great future there."

— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) April 24, 2012

The hiring of Smith also pleases the players, and that is what's most important.

Petrino doesn't need to say much else about Arkansas at this point. He's given his two cents on his replacement, and that's all that's needed.

It was the smart move to give Smith some love, but now is the time for Petrino to let Smith and the rest of the Razorbacks staff to get to work on winning a national title. 



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