Bahn: John L. Smith's Quirks, Motivation To Win On Display In Razorback Introduction

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2012 4:36 pm  

John L. Smith during Tuesday's news conference at the University of Arkansas. Smith has signed a 10-month contract to be the Razorback's interim coach. (Photo by

Dressed in black suit and cowboy boots — yes, cowboy boots — John L. Smith walked to the podium in the Raymond Miller Room for his introduction as Arkansas’ head football coach.

Seeing the interesting fashion combination was the first introduction to Smith’s quirky personality for many Razorback fans. Most knew him only as the former special teams coach and they got some real insight into Smith on Tuesday.

For the next 21 minutes, including an opening statement that ended with, “Gosh. That’s about all I have to say,” Smith offered a series of answers, non-sequiturs and one-liners that ranged from amusing to odd.

These were all the YouTube clips you might have seen of Smith's 19 years as a head coach playing out in real time.  

Smith called a TV personality “fat and sloppy.” Just before the first question came his way he asked that “no dumb questions” be asked. Smith intentionally mispronounced the name of his Heisman Trophy candidate running back.

Smith didn’t slap himself this time. But he did deliver a death blow to the idea of a head coach we’ve come to expect here the last four years.

Bobby Petrino was a man who said very little (except to select text message partners) and who seemed to be the picture of efficiency and control. Neither of those descriptions fit Smith at the podium Tuesday. He didn’t seem particularly under control. He certainly wasn’t efficient in his answers.

Petrino was heavy-handed and no-nonsense. Smith is, well, Smith is something else.

Athletic Director Jeff Long said after the press conference that he didn’t set out to find somebody who was more carefree, more extroverted, but that is what he and the Razorbacks wound up with for the next 10 months.

Long said Smith’s approach can wind up being just as good for the program as anything else.

“John L. is a different kind of leader, but I think he commands the attention of our student athletes,” Smith said. “I think he’s a good fit.”

Players were certainly happy with the news of the Smith hire. They took to Twitter on Monday after a team meeting to express their pleasure with Smith returning.

They tweeted some of their favorite quotes and moments from Smith’s three seasons as special teams and inside linebackers coach. They converted one of their favorite John L.-isms to a twitter hashtag — #GYPH. What is #GYPH? Let’s just say it translates loosely to “get your juices flowing.”



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