John L. Smith to Arkansas
It's official. Arkansas is bringing back former assistant, and current Weber State head coach, John L. Smith to serve as the interim head coach for the season.
"I am extremely pleased to welcome Coach John L. Smith back to the Razorback program as our new head football coach. Coach Smith brings a wealth of football knowledge, BCS conference head coaching experience, passion for the game and a close familiarity with the current team and coaching staff. I firmly believe that his selection is in the best interests of the young men in our program and will also best serve the mission of our football program and university in achieving success on and off the field in the upcoming season and in the long term." Athletic Director Jeff Long said of the hire.
His contract will be for 10 months and be worth $850,000.
Smith has spent a total of 18 seasons as a head coach including stops at Weber State, Michigan State, Louisville, Utah State, and Idaho.
In the short term, this hire makes a ton of sense. First and foremost, the entire program and all the players are familiar with him. Also, bringing John L. back allowed the staff to remain completely intact and does volumes in terms of the continuity allowing first year Razorback coordinators Paul Petrino and Paul Haynes to focus on their offenses and defenses. Overall, the move keeps everyone on the same page.
We also saw a note earlier that Smith has worked with 8 out 9 of Arkansas' current assistants at one point or another in his career. That was surely a huge factor for Long.
Although this makes sense for the season, a number of sources that we talked to assured us that there will be a complete search for a permanent head coach come December.
As the official press release states, "Long announced the University of Arkansas will continue to evaluate the program and the head coaching position in anticipation of naming a head coach following the 2012 season. The current appointment will allow the program to identify a head coach for the future of the program in a timeframe that is more conducive to attracting the potential candidates expected for one of the nation's premier football head coaching positions."
Smith will be officially announced at a press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m CST.
As for Weber State, we'll keep you posted to how things play out. Their AD just took to twitter to voice his thoughts:
Wow, just when you think the pieces to the puzzle are all in place, something big happens to create chaos and the picture changes. Ouch!— Jerry Bovee (@JerryBovee) April 23, 2012