Arkansas Football: What It Will Take for John L. Smith to Stay Beyond 2012

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 25, 2012

Arkansas head coach John L. Smith
Arkansas head coach John L. SmithWesley Hitt/Getty Images

All 14 of the SEC's head coaches followed up on last week's SEC Media Days by visiting ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., on Monday and Tuesday.

While there, Arkansas head coach John L. Smith—who is on a 10-month contract—told ESPNU that his goal is to leave Arkansas no choice but to keep him on as head coach after the season, according to

It's a lofty goal to say the least.

What will Arkansas have to accomplish in 2012 for that to happen?

Win the SEC Championship Game—and even then, his future wouldn't exactly be set in stone.

Smith wasn't brought in to be a long-term solution because Arkansas recognizes that the 2012 season is its last best shot at winning the title.

Quarterback Tyler Wilson is gone after this season, as are linebackers Tenarius Wright, and Alonzo Highsmith, wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg. Not to mention that running back Knile Davis—who seems like he's been in Fayetteville for a decade but is still only a junior—will likely declare for the NFL draft after this season.

Next season is going to be a rebuilding season no matter what, so rebuilding with a coach that is there as a long-term solution is the responsible thing for athletic director Jeff Long to do for the future of the football program.

But if Arkansas wins the SEC title coming out of the SEC West, it's a safe bet that the Razorbacks will also be playing for the national title. You can't let a coach that led you to college football's biggest stage walk, even in a situation that's as unique as Arkansas'.

Smith told ESPNU that if there's a win total he must reach, Long hasn't told him. The truth is that there probably isn't a set number.

It's about hardware, and the 2012 SEC Championship Game trophy will have to be in Arkansas' trophy case for Smith to even be in consideration. Even then, there still will be other factors involved.