Hogs Staying With Smith For Rest Of Season, Jeff Long Says
University of Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said Wednesday he remains “steadfastly” committed to head coach John L. Smith and the team’s coaching staff for the remainder of the 2012 football season.
Long was the guest speaker at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club weekly luncheon at Mermaids Seafood Restaurant in Fayetteville.
Taking questions from the media after the luncheon, Long said he was not going to answer whether Smith has been an embarrassment to the football program. Smith sometimes has been colorful in public settings, including recently telling reporters to smile and later mistakenly referring to the Razorbacks as Alabama’s football team. Long told reporters Wednesday he has spoken with Smith about his public speaking style but has not limited the coach’s public speaking engagements.
During the luncheon address, Long said he’s unhappy with the start of the season, but added that will not cause him to abandon the players or coaching staff for the rest of the season.
The Razorbacks (1-3) began the season ranked in the top 10 in college football polls, but quickly fell after losing to the University of Louisiana-Monroe. The team followed up its first loss with two more, including a 52-0 home loss to SEC West rival Alabama, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team. Arkansas lost 35-26 to Rutgers last Saturday in Fayetteville.
Long said the search for a coach will not be “done in public” and must be confidential so it will not affect the current jobs of applicants. He said the job-search process will occur after the season, adding he will decide then whether Smith would be considered for the job. He told reporters he would not rule out hiring an NFL coach for the job.
Smith was hired on an interim basis in the spring to replace former head coach Bobby Petrino. Long fired Petrino, a 51-year-old grandfather, after the coach conceded he’d had an inappropriate relationship with a 25-year-old woman he’d hired to work as a football staff member.