John L. Smith Reportedly Named Head Coach at Division II Fort Lewis College
John L. Smith, who has been the head football coach at five programs currently operating under the NCAA Division-I category, has taken a job with Division-II's Fort Lewis College.
According to a report by the Durango Herald's Ryan Owens, Smith will move from the Southeastern Conference and the Arkansas Razorbacks to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and the Fort Lewis Skyhawks.
It isn't the most glamorous of moves for Smith, who has had head coaching stops at Idaho, Utah State, Michigan State, Louisville and Arkansas. He takes over a team that went 0-10 last season, but brings 40-plus years of coaching experience to Durango, Colorado, in an attempt to revive the struggling program.
Smith struggled at Arkansas in 2012, taking over in the wake of Bobby Petrino's scandal and subsequent firing. Expected to compete at a high level in the SEC, the Hogs returned QB Tyler Wilson and injured RB Knile Davis to a team that went 11-2 in 2011 and accepted a bid to the Cotton Bowl.
They had no such success in 2012, going 4-8 overall, 2-6 in conference play and missing out on a bowl for the first time since the 2008 season. Smith didn't stay for long and was fired on Nov. 24—a day after the Hogs closed the season with a loss to LSU (per this ESPN report).
Smith famously filed for bankruptcy in September 2012, and this next job won't help pay back his debts, as noted on Twitter by ESPN's Darren Rovell:
Not sure creditors should be that thrilled with John L Smith landing another job. His new HC job at Fort Lewis has him making $67K.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) January 18, 2013
Fort Lewis athletic director Gary Hunter has worked with Smith in the past, hiring him as the head coach of the Idaho Vandals in 1988. Hunter apparently coaxed Smith to work with him again, but the pair will have a tall task to help build up a program that has a 6-25 record over the past three seasons.
The 64-year-old coach hasn't chosen the most conventional of venues to help revive his collegiate career, but he appears ready to take on the challenge of D-II football for the Skyhawks for the foreseeable future.
It isn't the SEC, but it's a start.
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