Friday’s game against LSU will most likely mark the last time John L. Smith leads the Hogs out of the tunnel. By this time next month Arkansas is expected to moved on with a new head coach.
In Monday’s news conference John L. spoke about his time at Arkansas and even got a little choked up.
“I’m very thankful for this and thankful for having the opportunity to come back,” said Smith. “I’m thankful that these guys thought enough of me to say, ‘That’s a guy we’d like back.’”
Smith’s popularity with the fans was not great to say the least, but the man’s on-field problems pale in comparison to his off-field problems. The death of his youngest brother and declaration of bankruptcy certainly weighted heavily on the coach’s mind throughout the season. But Smith came to work every day, trying to get better.
“I take personal pride in that. It has not worked as I would have liked to come back and give them wins. I’m a little regretful that I haven’t been able to give them more wins if you can give that. I’m trying to give them what I can and do what I can. Hopefully we have been a positive influence on their life.”
With seven losses on the season Arkansas is not eligible for a bowl game. Friday will be the final game for this group of seniors that brought the school its first back-to-back 10-win seasons since 1989.
“These seniors that are leaving, it is a special day for them so please come show them some respect,” said Smith. “Show them how much they appreciate the things that they have done. We are sorry that we haven’t done more. I would appeal to (the fans) that if you have any appreciation for these seniors and what they have done then come show them because they are a good group of young men.”
Coach Smith said he would like to continue coaching as long as he’s healthy enough to do it.
The game Friday will be broadcast here on 5NEWS. Kickoff is 1:30pm. The 5NEWS pregame special begins at noon.