You’ve probably heard already that Arkansas has hired a football coach.
No, no, no, not that John Smith. This one, the one with the L.
I’m not sure why he adds the L, but he does and there you have it: John L. Smith, new
interim head football coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
My not-so-instant reaction to this hire? Meh.
Bobby Petrino put Arkansas in a ridiculously tough spot. There was no big-name head coach with a job that would go Shula-style into this situation (well, no one but Petrino and he’s a little pre-occupied at the moment). So Jeff Long really had no choice but to hire an interim coach. It was also probably a wise move to hire someone outside the current staff and Smith has recent working experience with that same staff.
On paper, that makes Smith a great hire, but in reality, here’s what you get:
As for Smith’s familiarity with the Petrino way of proceeding, it’s true that Paul Petrino will get to remain offensive coordinator under this setup, and that’s probably the most sensible aspect of this larger decision. However, Smith’s knowledge of Bobby Petrino’s methods will not change this sobering reality: Arkansas will not bring a tactically sharp coach into SEC lairs this fall.
Smith does not command respect as an X-and-O man – it’s undeniable that he’s endured some rather “Zookian” moments on sidelines and some Jim Mora (senior, not junior) humiliations in press conferences over the years. What could Smith do that a non-Paul-Petrino Arkansas assistant couldn’t have done?
Another negative is that he kind of looks like a putz for bolting Weber State after only four months on the job. That should make the next alumni reunion interesting. And though it pays Smith $850,000, it’s a 10 month contract, so in about 10 months or so, he’ll be trolling around for another job.