This afternoon rumors started to swirl that Arkansas would be naming their coach later in the day and that it wasn't a name that had been previously connected with the vacancy left by Bobby Petrino. Then came the news that Arkansas hired former Louisville and Michigan State coach John L Smith. On the surface, it was a baffling hire. Digging a little deeper it made a little more sense in that Petrino coached under John L Smith as offensive coordinator in 1998 (at Louisville) and in turn Smith was part of Petrino's staff from 2009 to 2011 at Arkansas.
Smith has a strong knowledge of the Arkansas situation and is being brought in to basically be a figurehead and take some of the pressure off of the staff and coordinators by handling the press, hitting up the boosters, shaking the hands and kissing the babies. An interesting note is that Smith lobbied for the position just months after accepting the Head Coach position at his alma mater, Weber State. Arkansas is a huge jump up from Weber State but it still seems a slimy to leave your alma mater without a coach after having never coached a game for them.
Reaction on the internet has been very split on the hire. Some writers that are all for the hire:
My column on why Jeff Long's hire of John L. Smith continues a great month for the Arkansas AD: yhoo.it/Jsh4Z5
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 23, 2012
John L. Smith to Arkansas? I laughed, and then I wrote: cbsprt.co/I5v6Qp
— Gregg Doyel (@greggdoyelcbs) April 23, 2012
It provided a chance for some writers to tell a few jokes.
John L Smith took Weber State job just 4 months ago but leaves before coaching a game. Is this the perfect Petrino replacement or what?
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzAJC) April 23, 2012
Bo Ryan is blocking John L. Smith's transfer from Weber St to Arkansas
— Jason Anderson (@J680Anderson) April 23, 2012
And it let some Michigan State bloggers relive their nightmares.
The only thing crazier than JLS to Arkansas would be Craig James for Senate. That would never happen, right?
— Jim McEvoy (@SpartanBDF) April 23, 2012
Is this an out of left field hire? Absolutely. That being said, I don't really think this does anything to Arkansas chances this year on the football field. Smith is being brought in as a placeholder and I don't think he will have much if any of an impact on what goes on between chalk lines except freeing up the coordinators and position coaches to do their jobs. I think it was the right decision by Arkansas to bring in an interim coach. It makes sense that they brought in somebody who has intimate knowledge of the program but it is a bit of a head scratcher. Overall, I think Arkansas is pretty much still where they were at when the day started. Arkansas is still the third best team in the SEC West. That didn't change today.
Get more great college football analysis over at College Football Zealots.