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

What the player reaction tells us is that Smith, unlike Petrino, is a player's coach. Is that good or bad? We'll have to see.

Under the wrong circumstances that can be a dirty word. “Player's coach” often equates to a lack of discipline and a failure to pay attention to details.

Tailback Knile Davis said that isn’t the case with Smith, who can be all business when needed. Davis said he expects the team to perform just fine without the approach they came to expect form Petrino.

Arkansas still has hopes of competing for the SEC and national titles. Davis and Tyler Wilson are in the spring conversation for the Heisman Trophy. All the Razorbacks think they can build on last year’s Top 5 finish and 11 wins.

“You don’t have to step on everybody’s neck to get something out of them,” Davis said. “We know how to work. We know how to win. We know how to prepare to win games. It’s up to us. It’s on the seniors. It’s on the leadership of the team to keep the team right.”

Those high expectations are part of what led Smith back to Arkansas. He left as a position coach for the head coaching job at Weber State, a FCS school, but still had a desire to one day win a national title.

Smith sees the opportunity to do that at Arkansas. He contacted Long about the chance to come back at some point after Petrino was fired. Both the new coach and the athletic director seemed hazy on the details of just what the timetable was in getting Smith from Utah to Arkansas.

But Smith’s motivation is clear. One of the few moments he turned serious Tuesday was when the subject of his last BCS head coaching job came up. He was 22-26 overall at Michigan State and lost eight of his final nine games.

Absolutely he views the Arkansas job as an opportunity to redeem himself. His wife reminded him this might be his last chance at a national title.

Smith sounds as motivated as he is eccentric.

“If there is a door open, walk through it,” Smith said. “If there’s a window open, jump out of it.”



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