Heads up, Arkansas fans. Sure, you haven’t just lost to Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama in consecutive weeks, you’ve been embarrassed.
But have no fear, Razorback Nation, it’s doubtful you’ll get shutout at home again this season until LSU visits Fayetteville in late November and probably can finish above .500 on the year. It’s also fairly improbable that you’ll fall to Rutgers this weekend.
What is certain is that head coach John L. Smith won’t be retained after the year and that this season has made Arkansas a significantly less desirable destination for potential top-shelf coaches.
The Hogs have plummeted from the top 10 to the bottom of the SEC West, and it’s time for their fans to temper their expectations for the season and for their next hire. Don’t worry about winning a national title by being the best team in all of the land; just worry about being the best outfit in the state. Instead of BCS bowl, say the Sugar or Orange, think about how much fun it will be to visit Birmingham for the BBVA Compass Bowl.
What Smith, who was 22-26 in Michigan State and made only one bowl appearance in four seasons with the Spartans, has done is show just how pedestrian of a coach he is and just how mediocre of a job Arkansas is. Without a premier recruiter/builder like the disgraced Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks will find it difficult to sniff the top of the SEC West standings.
For what it’s worth, Rivals.com currently has Arkansas as the nation’s 35th-best recruiting class for 2013. Each of the Hogs’ division foes—LSU (3), Alabama (6), Auburn (9), Texas A&M (10), Ole Miss (23) and Mississippi State (28)—are slated to welcome in significantly more pedigreed classes with fellow SEC outfits Florida (5), Georgia (8), South Carolina (15), Vanderbilt (15), Tennessee (20) and Missouri (27). At the moment, Arkansas betters only lowly Kentucky (59) in class rankings.
Is Arkansas a Top-20 Job?
It’s no secret that the two biggest hurdles in the Hogs’ way reside in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Unless a top-shelf recruiter/game manager comes to Fayetteville, the prospects of competing against Nick Saban and Les Miles do not look good for Arkansas.
The Hogs’ home turf likely won’t be paying many dividends either. The state of Arkansas has just one prospect ranked—running back Altee Tenpenny at 37—in the Rivals.com Top 100 for 2013. Florida, Alabama and Georgia each have multiple entries in the Top 20.
Like it or not, Arkansas simply isn’t that attractive of a destination. At best, it’s the third-best job in the SEC West. At worst, one could easily consider a stop at Texas A&M or Auburn better for the career trajectory.
Smith hasn’t just confirmed his reputation as a run-of-the-mill coach, but has shined a light on why Arkansas just isn’t that good of a job.