John L. Smith has always said he would like to continue coaching college football. He now has that opportunity once again. Smith was hired as the head coach at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado on Wednesday.
Fort Lewis is a NCAA Division II school in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Smith has worked with President Dene Thomas, Athletic Director Gary Hunter, and Defensive Coordinator Ed Rifilato at various stops, most notably at the University of Idaho.
“I first looked at Fort Lewis College because of two people: Dene Thomas, who I think the world of and is the best person ever that I could work for, and Gary Hunter who was my first athletic director at Idaho and is a true friend,” said Smith. “I know the two of them are going to do everything possible to make FLC football as good as we can make it.”
John L. was named Arkansas head coach last April on a 10-month interim basis. He was let go on Nov. 24 after a 4-8 season.
“I’m very excited to actually coach for the real reasons you get into coaching; to make a difference in the kids’ lives and help them get an education,” Smith said. “At this point in my career, to get back and coach for the real reasons, not to get somebody to the NFL, but to coach kids who want to play the game and get an education. I’m just thankful that they’ve provided me the opportunity to do this.”
Smith sees many challenges in turning around a program that went 0-10 in 2012 and has six straight losing seasons. In fact, in 50 years as a four-year college, Fort Lewis has posted winning records just 10 times.
“To me, it’s a situation where we’re going to have to work hard to try and get the excitement up, get the program going in the right direction, win some games and graduate our kids,” he said.
Smith will become the coach effective March 1.