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.

National media seems to be polarized by the hire. As examples, here are CBS Sports' Gregg Doyle's thoughts (very negative) and Yahoo Sports Pat Forde's take (very positive). 

As for Weber State, we'll keep you posted to how things play out. Their AD just took to twitter to voice his thoughts: 



Ole Miss Video: "The Program"

Ole Miss just released a video entitled simply "The Program", highlighting the changes that the new coaching staff has brought on board, as well as the offensive and defensive philosophies. 

Linebacker D.T Shackelford has been impressed with the amount of time that the coaches are putting in with interaction with the players off the field. 

"I may get a text sometimes in the morning, and it has nothing pertaining to football. It's probably something about life, or in the afternoons I may get something saying we got film. It's just constant reminders and you can just tell they care."

Hugh Freeze made one thing very clear during the video. They will understand how to compete for an SEC West title. 

"We're going to put ourselves in position in years to come to be in the mix for that. I understand how tough this conference is, but Ole Miss is going to put ourselves in the talks for the SEC West Championship and not only on the field, but also in recruiting classes. We refuse to think we can't compete with others for those titles."

As the first practice wrapped up, Freeze commended the team on their effort and attitude, and then reminded them to tell three people (trainers, coaches, managers, etc.) thank you on their way off the field.

"If you didn't notice, we try to make our practices as chaotic as possible. That way when you get into a stadium that's chaotic it's just a normal everyday for us" he added.

Very good video.


How to kick off a spring game

If you weren't a part of the impressive 81,112 people in attendance at the Ohio State spring game, you may have missed the "Circle Drill " that kicked things off.

Luckily, we came across some footage inside the drill that shows you just how intense things got.

After calling out a number of big fellas to butt heads in the center, Urban Meyer called out his two quarterbacks.

"Our quarterbacks are like everybody else. They've got to put their nose on people" Meyer explained. "You'e got to be very careful and very smart, and sometimes I'm accused of neither."

Why one coach calls the profession "easy"

Back in February, Nevada hired former Hawaii offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich to serve as their offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach. Even early on, Rolovich says that he and head coach Chris Ault have been able to really hit things off.

“One of the more shocking things about some of my first conversations with Coach Ault was how willing and open he is to change and to improve. A lot of coaches who have been around for a long time seem to be very stubborn with how they do things, and he is very far from that. He wants to improve. He wants a reason for a change, but he’s not afraid to change, and I didn’t expect that.”

Chris Murray of RGJ.com explained in an article over the weekend that everyone stemming from guys that have coached with him to his former players all agree that Rolo has what it takes to be successful.

June Jones said that his former assistant coach is one of those kind of guys that was going to be successful regarless of his career path. "He’s just one of those guys that people rally around. I knew whatever he was going to do he was going to be successful. If he was selling cars, he’d be the best car salesman in the world.”

He will rarely raise his voice during practice, keeps practice fun for the players, and integrates a certain psychological aspect in with his coaching style.

“Kids aren’t doing this because somebody is making them. They want to play, they want to be good and they want to get better. Kids learn different ways. I’m not huge yeller. I like to point out lessons when they’re there, but all these kids here, they want to be here, they want to get better, they want to accomplish something and they want to be great, and that’s what makes it easy.” Rolovich explained.

In quite possibly the most telling of the reviews of Nick Rolovich as a coach, June Jones added, “When players really like each other, they’ll win for you. When it’s fourth-and-one and they really like you, they’ll win for you. But when it’s fourth-and-one and players love you, they’ll die for you. Rolo has that special something where his teammates always loved him and would die for him. It’s the same thing for him as a coach.” 

The challenges of going from FCS to FBS

Charley Molnar took over at UMass back in December in the midst of a transition from the FCS, to a member of the FBS's Mid-American Conference. The first time head coach sat down with The Republican to talk about that transition and the challenges and expectations heading into next season, as well as the most important of his five team rules.

The single biggest challenge, according to Molnar, is changing the attitudes of the players to get them to start thinking bigger and understand that an entirely new level of commitment is needed to compete at the highest level of college football.

Having spent his entire career as an assistant, Molnar says that he had plenty of time to come up with a detailed plan for his first head coaching job. "I have a plan for just about everything that has come up. It really just validates my thinking over the last 15 to 20 years that when the opportunity to become a head coach would arise, have a thought-out philosophy on as much as I could. I think so far it’s been very helpful."

While he didn't want to attach a wins and losses goal on the expectations for next season, Molnar said that fans can expect the team to play extremely hard, be well prepared and most importantly, never quit.

"As far as wins and losses, I can’t look into the future and tell you what that’s going to be, but I can tell you this, we’re going to be competitive; we are playing a I-A schedule with a number of players that we’re recruited as I-AA players and that’s not to sell them short, but certainly there’s some player development that has to take place before those guys are ready to compete at the highest level of college football.

Hanging up in the locker room is a set of team rules, the first of which is "Treat women with respect", Molnar explained the reasoning behind that rule making the list.

"It just really comes from my heart. I believe this, that my job as head football coach goes beyond what I teach out on the field. The experiences that I have not only entering my 29th year as a football coach but my 28th year of being a father and my 50 years on Earth. I’ve been put in this position perhaps in order to touch young men beyond the Xs and the Os. I think that in our society some of the basic values have been lost or have kind of been diluted, so I want to make sure that part of the life lessons that I teach these young men are things I hold near and dear to my heart. And being a husband and a brother to girls, being a son, being a father to three beautiful young ladies, as I go through and see how our society has changed the way men interact with women it just makes me sick, so really I feel like, I can’t change the world but I can change my neighborhood, and that’s what I’m trying to do."

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