Bahn: John L. Smith Content To Let His Razorback 'Coordinators Coordinate'

by Chris Bahn  on Friday, Apr. 27, 2012 1:37 pm  

John L. Smith won't micromanage his coaching staff. (Photo by

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Coordinator titles mean different things to different head coaches.

Arkansas, for example, had two different offensive coordinators during Bobby Petrino’s four seasons. Both Paul Petrino and Garrick McGee were labeled as heads of the offense, but there was no doubt who called the plays during games and who had control of personnel decisions.

There were even times Petrino was heavily involved on the defensive side of the football. It was an approach that worked for the Razorbacks, but not one to expect from John L. Smith.

Smith, 63, said earlier this week his goal for the season is not to “goof up” his coaches and the Razorbacks as they try to build on last year’s 11-win season. It’s a philosophy he’s adapted after nearly four decades in coaching, including 18 previous years as a head coach at Utah State, Idaho, Louisville and Michigan State.

Paul Petrino will run the offense. Paul Haynes will run the defense.

“I have always let my coordinators coordinate,” Smith said earlier this week. “That’s just the way I’ve been. I see my role as a mentor. As an advisor. As someone to say ‘I don’t think that’s going to work’ or ‘I think that’s real good, let’s go ahead and do that.’ As a final decision maker on not only recruiting, but game planning and things like that.”

A coach saying he won’t get overly involved is one thing. Actually not trying to take too much control from the assistants is another.

How has Smith typically operated? His plan for the 2012 season at Arkansas is apparently in line with how he’s handled other head coaching gigs.

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan worked with Smith at Louisville as offensive coordinator from 1999-2001. Linehan, Smith’s offensive coordinator after Bobby Petrino, said Smith was always involved, but never too much.

Louisville was 41-21 in Smith’s five seasons, including an 11-2 year in 2001.

“He just gets it; he gets the position of the head coach,” Linehan said. “It’s a person that’s really the CEO of the football team and he knows how to manage coaches. … I’ve always respected that. John L. lets coaches coach.”

Special teams is an area where Smith said he’d make himself most involved. Before Smith left for Weber State he served three years as the special teams coordinator for Arkansas.



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