Arkansas head coach John L. Smith
Remember when Arkansas was ranked in the Top 10 and was a contender for the national title?
Yeah, about that.
Losses in four of the first five games, including Saturday's 58-10 shellacking at the hands of Texas A&M in College Station, have Hog Nation angry. Some are even calling for head coach John L. Smith to step down.
This isn't Smith's fault.
It's the combination of a lot of things that has caused the 2012 Arkansas season to go spinning out of control, including some that can be attributed directly to former Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino, who was fired this spring shortly after it was learned that he covered up an affair with a staffer.
Arkansas' primary issues under Petrino were pass-blocking and defense, and it's that defense that has let the Hogs down in 2012. The defense is led by defensive coordinator Paul Haynes—the man Petrino hired to fix the problem.
Instead of being the cure to the Willy Robinson blues, Haynes has been a liability.
Arkansas gave up 409 yards to Texas A&M in the first half.
Not in the game—in the first half.
SEC defenses don't give up that kind of yardage. Not to Texas A&M, not to Georgia, not even to the New England Patriots.
The Arkansas defense was giving up an average of 458.75 yards per game coming into this weekend. Then it got lit up like a Christmas tree to the tune of 716 yards by the Aggies.
In their first five games last season, the Hogs allowed 388.4 yards per game.
Head coach John L. Smith will undoubtedly take the majority of the heat for Arkansas' season, which is rapidly joining the ranks of Alabama's 2000 and LSU's 1998 teams as one of the biggest disappointments in recent SEC history. But that's incredibly unfair.
Sometimes our society wants to place blame in one particular direction when it belongs in a variety of places.
Are the majority of Arkansas' issues related to John L. Smith?
The problems facing this team are the same ones that faced it last season when Petrino was there. Aside from maybe—maybe—calling better plays around the horrendous Razorback offensive line, his presence wouldn't have made much of a difference for this team.
The defense is worse than it was last season, the offensive line can't block and Knile Davis can't hold on to the football.
I was one who said that they had the talent to be a national championship contender no matter who the head coach was.
I was wrong.
Even if Petrino hadn't wrecked his motorcycle and his personal issues not been exposed, this would have been, at best, a 7-5 team.
And that's probably too generous.