May 25, 2018

John L. Smith Named Interim Razorbacks Head Coach John L. Smith Named Football Head Coach

John L. Smith is returning to the University of Arkansas to serve as the head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks it was announced by vice chancellor and director of athletics Jeff Long on Monday.


  • Listen up Razorback fans: as a die hard Michigan State fan I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t care about Arkansas one-way-or-the-other. With that said, I would admonish you to be VERY afraid of having JLS as your coach. With any luck, the interim period will be exceedingly short. In any case, I’m here to tell you that his tenure in East Lansing was an absolute debacle. His MSU teams had a penchant for blowing big leads & losing games in unusual / creative ways. They were poorly coached & JLS was a lousy recruiter. In his final yr, the fan base went into out & out revolt and the major MSU donors demanded that he be fired or else they threatened to never give another dime to the MSU football program. The Ohio State game was surreal as the OSU fans came in & literally took over Spartan Stadium. After the game, John L said he “didn’t notice” the sea-of-red in the stands. Doh!!

    Good luck Razorbacks, but I would not want to be you right now. To this day I still have nightmares / flashbacks to the JLS era of MSU football. John L is kind of like my own personal Freddy Kruger in that respect. We finally have stability with coach Dantonio ~ I hope we NEVER hire another John L!!


    Lycurgus, lawmaker of Sparta

    • Jonesboro Hog

      I wish MSU would come to Fayetteville so we can post a 65-0 shutout on you Spartans. Don’t be coming to our fan page throwing rocks while we’re down. Our fans have been threw a lot. It’s pretty obvious you don’t care about the UofA, I don’t care about MSU. Sounds to me that Smith didn’t care about MSU either. Our players and coaches like him that is all that matters. Exciting things to come people.

    • Walking on Sunshine

      I don’t think Hog fans have any illusions about John L. He’s proven to be a good football man over the years that can serve as the CEO of this team and let the coordinators do their jobs. The current coaches and players respect and like him.

      Many good coaches — including Nick Saban — tried with limited to no success to turn around the reclamation project that is Michigan State football. JLS is a member of that club.

    • Jim Dogg

      I share some of your concerns about Smith. I was a student at MSU (long time ago) but have had a long connection with UA. Smith and his successor were very frustrating. Those Spartan teams were fast starters and disasterous finishers. They had the talent but… It was somewht misleading by one writer to describe UM and OSU as the biggest MSU rivals. UM yes, but OSU only because you had to beat them to win the Big Ten, Notre Dame was MSU’s other really big rival. Both recruited heavily in Pennsylvania whereas Michigan recruited heavily in Ohio which partly explains that rivalry. I can’t recall but Smith’s record against the Irish was acceptable (I could be wrong). After Smith it was bad until Dantonio. One negative against Smith is to remind that he was the special teams coach which were horrible until this year. But if Long couldn’t attract another established gunslinger then this was an excellent interim choice. Smith has been a head coach, this keeps the assistants happy and intact security-wise, and the players minds at ease about a new direction. Anyone who thinks that elevating an assistant at this time is good doesn’t understand management. Next year if a nation-wide search is unsatistactory than promoting an assistant would make more sense. Good luck to J. L. He has fallen into a coach’s dream, that is, to inherit a team slated to be in the top ten, at least, and a potential national contender. If John is successful, then a lot of coaches will be kicking their butts to death because they didn’t at least call and missed what might have been their only realistic shot at the National Title.

  • Our Lady of Hogalupe

    That Doyel article is one of the most ridiculous pieces of journalism I have ever read. It is poorly researched, poorly written, and poorly thought out. Perhaps, due to the nature of his “vacation” he is nearing black out drunk and is simply unable to write anything sensical. Well done, Doyel.

    • Jim Dogg

      I agree but I found some of the comments in the above cited articles to be funny. One was by a sports writer (?) who said that he had a feeling that the Hogs would suck this year. I’m not sure what “suck” actually means but I sure would like to find that guy and lay down some money. Unless he means that the Hogs might not live up to expectations and only be 11-2. Another commenter said that no one outside of Arkansas would recognize Joe Adams’ name! Fans in Tennesee certainly do. Lets see… first team on every All American team, winner of the award for best all round offensive player, and the ESPN highlight reel of the year. I’m always amazed at the willingness of people to expose their level of ignorance and still call themselves “football fans”.

  • Michael

    I fear that the razorbacks will do good this coming season, and it will be credied to the new coach instead of the fact that it is still petrino’s team, then they will hire this new guy on for good, and then in a couple of years when petrino’s team starts to disolve, we will go back to sucking for the next 10 years.

    • Andrew


  • LR Hog

    If Long intended for Smith’s hire to unite the fan base, it has failed miserably. These posts sound more like the idiot messages on Hogville than what usually appears here.

    Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion with respect and without derision. That includes folks from Michigan State. Stop the rudeness to people who have a different point of view. It makes you and the state look stupid.

    I, too, am very worried about the selection of Smith. However, if there were ever a time for Hog fans to band together and display a modicum of class, it’s now.

  • soupdhog

    I don’t mean this as an insult, but anyone that doesn’t recognize the JLS hire as a good move doesn’t truly understand our situation. We have a legitimate shot at the title this year. This is a Top 5 team people.

    Bringing in any new coach will require a new system, buy in from the players, etc. That would be a disaster to this team and it’s chemistry.

    Our missing link last year was defense. We demonstrated improvement in the Cotton Bowl after one month under the new DC. A new coach could unravel that with his system.

    The goal here was to keep continuity as much as possible to take a shot at the BCS championship and perhaps have 2 people in NY for the Heisman presentation. Yes recruiting will hurt, but if we do great things this year we not only have a BCS title, but also can get a bigger name than those thrown out there so far and recruiting will be through the roof. Think about it people – being at the top of the SEC and the nation is too big an opportunity to screw up. Long is taking a small gamble, but I like it.

    • Mike in Magnolia

      Very well said. I agree with you 100%. I don;t understand all the anger about the whole sitituation that Mr. Long was put in. I think with all things considered he did the only thing possible for right now. He made the desicion to win NOW!!! I think I would have to agree with that.
      Once again well thought out post SoupDog.

    • Carolina Hog

      Agreed. I’ve seen some suggest that you sacrifice this year for years to come. Sure, because we have a pre-season top 10 team every…….. That’s right. This is the team we’ve waited for, why would you give up on it so easy. Makes no sense. For those that aren’t happy, name your coach.

  • Mark Hopkins

    The thing is, JL could have stipulated to ANY coach that he must keep the staff intact for the 2012 season, which is all he’s done for smith. You think if he gets rehired that he’ll still have it in his contract that he can’t hire *his own* staff? Lame.

    • Carolina Hog

      Not true Mark. Let’s say for a fairy tale second we could have Jon Gruden. You don’t tell him or any other big name coach what they can and can’t do with their staff.

    • soupdhog

      Right – any big time coach will want his guys. With big name coaches come big time egos. They want their own stamp and control on the program. John L Smith already has his stamp(s). Perfect choice.

  • Soupdhog hit it right on the head. This is a great hire for the situation.

    People can say what they want about next year or the next 5 years, but this hire was for THIS year and THIS year only.

    This is the perfect situation for everyone involved. JLS will be 64 years old very shortly. He could’ve hung around at his alma mater (Weber State) and collected a measley $60,000 annually for the next 4 or 5 years, then retire at age 68 or 69 or go back to Arkansas for one last hoorah at the rate of $850,000 for 10 month, plus incentives, land a possible $1,000,000 for a championship year, then retire,…DUH!!!

    You think he ain’t gonna coach his @$$ off?…yeah, right!!! Hell, he doesn’t even have to do all that much with the assistants he has in place, besides manage a few timeouts and debate going for it on 4th down from time to time.

    GO HOGS GO, BABY!!!!!

    • Jim Dogg

      Gonzo: You should e-mail this to those really, really dumb sportswriters that wondered why Smith would leave the security of the job at Weber. Honestly, I don’t agree with many comments here, but they are many times better thought out than those of the sports “pundits”. Like you I thought this was a no brainer for Smith. One commenter elsewhwere, disagreeing with the pundits, compared it to having worked as a reporter at the Washington Post and then offered an editorial position at the NYT. I would rather compare it to (and no disrespect intended to Weber) but it is more like having been a reporter at the NYT, moving as editor to the Ashtabula, Ohio Star Beacon, but then called back to be as editor at the NYT. A lot of this nonsense is hatred of Petrino (and Arkansas for hiring him) at the national level. Journalism today is driven by impassioned hate and not common sense. Good post Gonzo.

  • Jim Dogg

    One thing about next year. We will lose alot of star power, QB and running backs. And It remains to be seen if this present change will hurt this year’s recruiting class as some have already bailed, at least temporarily. I’m glad the Allen TX running back is still coming. My son tells me he’s a real beast. And how will this move affect next year’s class. You can’t bank on winning the National Championship to persuade recruits. Personally, I think that if Smith maintains the offensive philosphy that this will go a long way to getting outstanding recruits that will fit the program. One of the downsides to Smith’s hire is that next year the Hogs will not have the mantle of one of the favorites and that may detract from a new hire. Long did the best that he could, I’m sure, and if Smith proves a winner then all will be settled for the near future. Not many get a second chance (unless you get into dog fighting) so hopefully, J L will make the most of it.

    • John T

      I am on board with Smith. He is the best in the situation. Besides MSU likely did not have the same talent nor assistants as Arkansas has right now. Just remember, even with Petrino as HC, no one could predict a BCS or BCS championship game with the tough teams coming up in the toughest conference and toughest division in that conference. No one can predict what injuries may occur in the fall…no one. And with the limits of number of scholarships in NCAA injuries at the wrong time and to the wrong people can totally change the outcome. The season will depend largely on how good a defense that UA can field week after week. Recruiting might be hurt next year but remember it is likely that Long will have someone hired and ready to go at the right time.

      • Jim Dogg

        Sorry John T. but a number of pundits and others were predicting Arkansas to have a shot at the West title, a BCs game, and perhaps a Natioanl Championship. These were predictions, and like all predictions, subject to change. Last year, the national pundits had Alabama at 1 or 2. LSU in the top 5 preseason. So maybe they have an idea of who will do well. The change to Smith from Petrino may change the previous predictions about Arkansas, We will see this summer when the football mags come out. Last year none of the mags picked Arkansas to be 5th. I think the general pick will be about 10th because of the change, about where the Hogs started last year. Regarding injuries, any team can have them. Consider USC last year. If McElroy at Bama and Mezzenberger (sic) at LSU get hurt, those teams are going to be in trouble. It’s all a guessing game. One wonders what the Hogs would have done last year with a healthy Knile Davis.

  • Roadhog

    The only one who would have been better than Smith was G. McGee. Or maybe BMFP himself disguised as Paul Petrino calling plays from upstairs. The only people’s opinions I care much about are those of the players and coaches, and they seem to like and respect the man. Good enuf for me. Smith’s record at MSU and Louisville are barely relevant in this situation. The Hogs need a head coach to make decisions, manage the program, and handle sideline duties, for one season. The team is already coached up, for the most part. Now is not the time to change horses.

    An important matter is that Smith called Long, enabling Long to maintain integrity for Arkansas.
    The ones who are against this hire are the ones who were also wrong about firing B. Petrino in the first place. Being wrong twice doesn’t improve your grasp of the issues.

    I just don’t see much to dislike with hiring JLSmith. Next year will be a total RESET, but no reason to shuck this year because of future changes.

    BTW: Those who think we are contenders for a national championship are setting Smith up as the fall guy. NC was always a long shot at best, especially now with a new HC and DC and retread OC. Just remember what a murderer’s row is the SEC West.

    • Jim Dogg

      i believe it was the national media that predicted, because of the SEC’s run, that an 11-2 (or better) team from the West would be a lock for the national championship game. The contenders for that, at the moment, are Alabama, LSU and the Hogs. And the Hogs get both at home. The pressure was on the Hogs before Smith was chosen. And from what I’ve read the players believe they can get there. The word was that the Hogs would be in the top ten and perhaps as high as 5th. That makes them contenders. Smith is not being set up. Every coach has pressure to win and Smith is no different.

      • Roadhog

        There were lots of ?-marks for this team–the O-line, the defense with a new coordinator, Knile Davis, etc.–even with B. Petrino at the helm. Just didn’t look that solid to me. But what I meant was that some people will blame Smith if the team fails to live up to their expectations, which may have been unrealistic to start with. Whether the Hogs are contenders will be decided on the field, not by the national media. The Alabama game will reveal much. You must be both good and lucky, and perhaps even favored, by refs and the media, to win the big games.

        In a situation like this, I would prefer a rock-solid defense, something we haven’t seen at Arkansas since who-knows-when.

        Your comments are always valid and well-reasoned, Jim. I certainly don’t know how all this will play out. Just commenting.

  • The key to the season will be how well DC Paul Haynes can liven up the run D. Alabama, LSU and SC all run the ball very well. That will be our bread and butter.

    • Jim Dogg

      The other key will be the OL. Hopefully it will do better protecting Wilson then it did in the first games of last season and in the LSU game. With the running backs coming back any over emphasis on pass rush by opponents will lead to some big games by the RBs. Davis burned the Buckeyes for big yardage in the Sugar Bowl when OSU thought all they had to to was rush Mallet. With Davis coming back, Mitchell as an option, the promise of the younger RBs ,and the OL being more experienced, it looks good. Can hardly wait.

  • John T: You are correct that MSU didn’t have near the talent during the JLS tenure that Arkansas has today. However, the talent level is only one of many reasons that we MSU fans want to walph when we think of John L’s train-wreck in EL. I will give you a few specific examples of his lack of game management ability that cost MSU.

    ***The season < his final yr, MSU was up 17-7 against heavily favored Ohio State in Columbus. With under a minute left in the 2nd quarter, it was 2nd down & QB Drew Stanton scrambled for a 1 yard gain. Stanton lined-up to spike the ball so they could kick a FG as they were deep in OSU territory. Then….all hell broke loose.

    In a wild Chinese fire drill, MSU players were running chaotically on & off the field as one of JLS’ graduate assistants screamed for the FG team. Again, they had PLENTY of time to spike the ball & kick the FG on 4th down ~ no reason to panic whatsoever. Instead, MSU ended up with 10 players on the field & OSU blocked the FG & returned it for a TD. MSU ended up losing the game.

    John L didn’t make the call to send the “rush” FG team onto the field. It was a graduate assistant. However, the fact remains that stuff like this should be taken care of in August camp ~ not in October. And, we were all too familiar with gaffes like this during JLS’s time in EL. It was after this game that MSU fans started screaming for John L to be canned.

    ***In the final game of his next-to-last season, MSU traveled to Hawaii to take on the Rainbow Warriors. MSU promptly jumped out to a 21-0 lead. Hawaii had a slot receiver who was KILLING us. The entire game, MSU put Strong Safety Eric Smith (now with the NFL New York Jets) on him in man-to-man coverage. Smith was a quality Safety & a bit hitter, but athletically he was no match for the Hawaii WR.

    So, what was JLS’ adjustment, you ask? That’s just it ~ there wasn’t any. I watched the entire game & they never backed out of playing the kid one-on-one with Eric Smith, even though it was blatantly obvious to anyone who knows anything about football that the slot receiver was eating the MSU defense alive. He ended up with close to 200 yards receiving (or possibly more ~ I can’t recall). Hawaii came back & won the game due to John L’s recalcitrance.

    ***The death-knell for John L’s regime was a night game against Notre Dame in Spartan Stadium. It was one of the most electrifying atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of, and for 3 quarters MSU was absolutely crushing the Irish.

    MSU had a 230 power running back named Jehu Caulcrick & ND had no answer for him. He ran for something like 104 yards on just 12 carries. It was a rainy, nasty cold September night, which was the PERFECT night to unleash Caulcrick. MSU had a comfortable 17pt lead in the 4th quarter. The most demoralizing thing for a defense is to have to tackle a big power RB over & over again when they’re playing from behind & every tackle drives them down into the mud. This is basic football 101 stuff here.

    So, what does JLS do? In one of the most baffling moves in college football history, he benches(!) Caulcrick in the 4th quarter. Instead, he went with the speed back, Javon Ringer (presently in the NFL with the Titans). Ringer was a gamebreaker, but the muddy conditions neutralized his speed; Caulcrick was the guy who had the hot-hand.

    As you may have guessed (a recurring theme during the JLS era in EL), ND miraculously came from behind to win the game in the 4th quarter after being manhandled the first 3 quarters. After the game, John L was asked about his decision to bench Caulcrick; it was assumed that Caulcrick was injured. He was not. John L replied that “We thought that Ringer could break a long run.” Here’s the thing: MSU DID NOT NEED A LONG RUN!! THEY HAD ENOUGH POINTS TO WIN THE GAME!!! All they needed to do was get 3-4 more 1st downs & there would not be enough time for ND to mount a comeback. I could care less whether they scored again.

    As happened so often, John L wanted to “get cute” instead of simply winning a football game the conventional game. He disliked Charlie Weiss (can’t blame him for that) and wanted to run-up the score on him. It ended up costing him the game. I’m sure that players from the ND defense who played that night are as mystified as anyone as to why Caulcrick was relegated to the bench in the 4th quarter.

    Now, maybe John L has learned some lessons from his horrendous stay in East Lansing. Maybe not ~ I simply don’t know. All I do know is that over & over & over again his teams would come from ahead to lose in the most perplexing ways. For all I know, he could win the National Championship with Arkansas this yr; I concede that’s a possibility. Frankly, I would not care one way or the other. All I’m trying to tell you is that a lot of people are giving him a free-pass for his disastrous 4yrs in EL; I’d be cautious about that if I were you.

    Thus spake Lycurgus the Spartan Lawgiver