John L. Smith won't return to Arkansas - Tucson News Now

John L. Smith won't return to Arkansas

John L. Smith has been fired as head coach of the University of Arkansas football team. (Source: University of Arkansas Athletics) John L. Smith has been fired as head coach of the University of Arkansas football team. (Source: University of Arkansas Athletics)

(RNN) – John L. Smith's tenure as head football coach at Arkansas has come to an end.

Smith took over the helm of the Razorbacks in April after revelations about head coach Bobby Petrino's personal life cost him his job.

In a statement on the Razorbacks' website, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said Smith would stay at Arkansas through the duration of his contract, which ends in February, but would be reassigned to a consultant role.

"With our 2012 football season concluded, I met earlier today with Coach John L. Smith to inform him we would be making a change in leadership within our football program," Long's statement said. "I have great respect for Coach Smith and I thank him for the sincere commitment he has shown our program. 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."

A report on CBSsports.com said that the university could hire a coach within the next 10 days.

Arkansas started the season ranked No. 10 after finishing in the top five in 2011. It didn't take long for the Razorbacks to start falling in the polls. Arkansas lost an overtime game to Louisiana-Monroe in the second week of the season and followed it with three more losses to Alabama, Rutgers and Texas A&M.

The Hogs finished 4-8 with a 2-6 mark in the SEC after three consecutive losses to close the year. It is the first time Arkansas failed to make a bowl game since 2008, Petrino's first season as head coach.

Smith's brief tenure was marred by odd behavior, including chastising the media for not remaining positive and mistakenly calling the team "a state of Alabama program" at a speaking engagement.

It was also revealed during the season that Smith had filed for bankruptcy with reports claiming he was more than $40 million in debt.

"I am very grateful to Chancellor (David) Gearhart and Jeff Long for the opportunity they gave me to return to the University of Arkansas and coach this football team," Smith said in the online statement. "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. Everyone on our staff has my appreciation as they all believed in our goals and stayed committed to the development of these young men.

"I would like to thank the Razorback fans for demonstrating their support for these student-athletes and this coaching staff during a challenging time. I enjoyed every day of this experience, and this profession has been and will continue to be rewarding to me. During my time here, it has been incredible to be a part of helping this program grow and I wish everyone involved nothing but success in the future."

Arkansas ranked at or near the bottom of the SEC – and the nation – in several important categories, including scoring offense, scoring defense, total defense, passing defense and rushing offense.

Smith signed a one-year contract in the offseason and left Weber State, where he had accepted the head coaching position only months earlier, to coach the Hogs. Smith had been an assistant at Arkansas for three years under Petrino.

Smith has a 136-94 record during his 19-year career as a head coach, most notably at Louisville, where he led the Cardinals to five consecutive bowl games. He was the head coach at Michigan State for four seasons until he was fired before the end of the 2006 season.

He is the third SEC coach to lose his job this season, following Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Tennessee's Derek Dooley.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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