Arkansas' Loss to Louisiana-Monroe Proves John L. Smith Isn't SEC Caliber Coach

John RozumCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2012

Sep 8, 2012; Little Rock, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach John Smith looks on in the game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks during the second quarter at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

John L. Smith isn't capable of coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks to compete in the SEC.

On Saturday evening, Smith's squad just became the biggest upset of this young 2012 college football season, courtesy of the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

Leading 31-28 in the first overtime period, Arkansas was one down away from surviving the inferior opponent.

Instead, Warhawks quarterback Kolton Browning turned a broken play on fourth down and took off running for the game-winning touchdown. The Razorbacks lost 34-31 and get to face the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide next.


To that end, let's look at why Arkansas won't succeed with Smith at the helm.


Been Away From Coaching For Too Long

The last year John L. Smith served as a head coach was 2006.

Having been away from the head coaching game for five years, it's tough to break back in with a big-time program like Arkansas. And although the game hasn't significantly changed since then, it's been enough to quickly catch Smith off balance.

Just look at the Razorbacks' first game against Jacksonville State.

It was 7-all after one quarter, and the Gamecocks actually led 14-7 early in the second quarter. The game continued to be a close shootout as well, because Jacksonville State was down only 35-24 roughly halfway through the third quarter.

By game's end, it was a rather unconvincing 49-24 win, and Arkansas allowed 322 total yards and turned the ball over three times. Not to mention Jacksonville State won the time of possession battle, was a decent 8-of-19 on third down and did a solid job against the Hogs' ground game.

Had Smith not been away for a half a decade, this game wouldn't expose Arkansas for Louisiana-Monroe.

Little SEC Experience Will Prove Costly

He's never served as a head coach or offensive/defensive coordinator in the SEC. His only prior SEC experience is as a special teams coach with the Razorbacks from 2009 to 2011.

Now, this wouldn't have been too much of an issue a few years ago, but after seeing six straight national championships come out of the SEC, no one can just enter the conference and expect immediate success.

Before taking over Arkansas, though, Smith had head coached at Michigan State, Louisville, Utah State and Idaho. Obviously, none of those are SEC schools, and their conferences haven't been nearly as dominant from an all-encompassed perspective either.

Unimpressive Resume

When Smith coached at Idaho, the Vandals were in the NCAA-IAA (now FCS), and he made five postseason appearances in six years. From there, he went to Utah State and finished with a losing record.

On the bright side, Smith had a better time with the Louisville Cardinals and went 41-21 in five years. Also, the Cardinals finished ranked No. 16 in 2011 (11-2 final record).

That, however, was his only double-digit win total, because Smith had another losing record and this time at Michigan State. Optimistically, the best showing of his career are seven straight bowl appearances from 1997 through 2003. 

Unfortunately, Smith managed just one bowl win during that stretch, and the most popular one he coached in was the Alamo Bowl.

Expectations are much, much higher at Arkansas, and it's unlikely that Smith will get the Razorbacks to live up to those standards.


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