Arkansas Razorbacks: John L. Smith relieved from duties as Razorbacks head football coach

Arkansas RazorbacksSportsFootballBobby PetrinoJeff LongLSU TigersSoutheastern Conference

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - John L. Smith's temporary tenure as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks is over.

The school told Smith Saturday he would not return next season following Arkansas' loss to No. 8 LSU 20-13 Friday.  The Razorbacks finished a disappointing 4-8 in 2012, despite a top 10 preseason ranking.

"I have great respect for coach Smith and I thank him for the sincere commitment he has shown our program," said athletic director Jeff Long.  "He made a difficult decision in uncertain times to return from his alma mater to guide the young men in our football program, and I will always be grateful for his efforts."

Long hired Smith after the unexpected firing of Bobby Petrino in April.  Smith served as the special teams coordinator during Petrino's last three seasons, before taking the head coaching position at Weber State in January.  Smith signed a ten-month contract with Arkansas in April.  That contract ends in February.

"I have enjoyed guiding this group and I am extremely proud of how everyone in our program stuck together and showed tremendous character by competing throughout the season," said Smith.  "Everyone on our staff has my appreciation as they all believed in our goals and stayed committed to the development of these young men."

Arkansas failed to reach a bowl for only the second time in the last seven seasons.  The Razorbacks suffered season-ending injuries to many key starters, including preseason all-Southeastern Conference linebackers Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith and preseason all-America tight end Chris Gragg.

"I enjoyed every day of this experience and this profession has been and will continue to be rewarding to me," said Smith.  "During my time here, it has been incredible to be a part of helping this program grown and I wish everyone involved nothing but success in the future."

Smith will remain with the football program through February as a consultant, assisting with the transition.  The assistant coaches may also remain on the staff, pending the hiring of a new coach. Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long has given no timetable on the naming of a new coach. 

"Our new coach will be an individual who shares the passion for success our fans do and who is willing to work relentlessly to achieve our goals," said Long.  "It will be someone who embraces the expectations of winning a national championship and succeeding in the classroom with discipline, honesty and integrity."

The hire will be Arkansas' third coach in the last five seasons.



Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times