The University of Arkansas Athletics Director Jeff Long formally introduced Coach John L. Smith as former head coach Bobby Petrino's replacement at a news conference at the Fayetteville campus Tuesday afternoon.
Long told the media there was no question in his mind that bring Coach Smith back to the program was the best decision.
Coach Smith said he was very excited to be back in Arkansas where he spent the last three seasons as special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. In December of 2011, he accepted the head coaching position at Weber State.
Coach Smith credited his wife Di for helping him make the one of the toughest decisions in his life.
After a brief opening speech, he opened the floor to the media: “You know the rules, no stupid questions.”
Some questions revolved around his predecessor, Petrino, who was fired on April10 after news of his affair with then co-worker Jessica Dorrell and her involvement in his motorcycle accident surfaced.
Coach Smith encouraged Razorback fans to “embrace the adversity.” He says he’s had no contact with Petrino over the last two weeks.
"Let's just all lock arms, forge ahead and go win a championship," Smith said.
Petrino’s character and ability as a role model was called in to question after news of his misconduct.
Last week Long vowed to find a coach with “head coach that possesses the expertise, leadership skills and character to maintain Razorback football as one of the nation’s elite programs.”
"Hopefully I can make a difference in a young man's life,” Smith said. “I can be a positive role model."
Coach Smith says he hopes the players and coaching staff is as excited about his return as he is.
“We're a family,” he said. “They're inviting the wayward son home again"
The Razorback Foundation approved Smith's contract Monday afternoon. CLICK HERE to read John L. Smith's Letter of Agreement with the University of Arkansas
He has previously worked with eight of the nine members of the Razorbacks’ assistant coaching staff.
Smith, 63, signed a 10-month letter of agreement with a compensation package of $850,000, about $425,000 of that will come from the Razorback Foundation. Smith will also be eligible for performance and academic achievement incentives.
He will also be provided with 12 seat skybox tickets for each home football game, four tickets to each home basketball game and a loaned vehicle. The university has also agreed to pay reasonable moving expenses.
“I am extremely pleased to welcome Coach John L. Smith back to the Razorback program as our new head football coach,” vice chancellor and director of athletics Jeff Long said. “Coach Smith brings a wealth of football knowledge, BCS conference head coaching experience, passion for the game and a close familiarity with the current team and coaching staff. I firmly believe that his selection is in the best interests of the young men in our program and will also best serve the mission of our football program and university in achieving success on and off the field in the upcoming season and in the long term.”
Smith enters his 40th year of coaching and his 19th as a head coach. Arkansas is Smith’s sixth head coaching position following stints at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville, Michigan State and most recently at his alma mater, Weber State.
As a head coach, Smith posted a 132-86 overall record and produced six conference champions, two Conference USA, two Big West and two Big Sky, according to the University of Arkansas' website.
During Smith’s time at Arkansas, his special teams groups dominated in 2011, as Arkansas boasted the SEC’s individual leader in punt returns, punting and kick scoring, according to the university.
Last season, Joe Adams became the first recipient of the Johnny Rodgers Award, presented to the nation’s top returner. Adams led the NCAA and tied an SEC single-season record with four punt return touchdowns and was second in the NCAA with his average of 16.9 yards per punt return. Arkansas returned an NCAA-leading six kicks for touchdowns, scoring four punt return touchdowns and two kickoff return touchdowns. Dylan Breeding became the first Razorback to lead the SEC in punting, with an average of 45.28, which ranked seventh nationally. Kicker Zach Hocker’s average of 9.1 points per game led the SEC in kick scoring and finished seventh in the nation.
On defense, Smith helped transfer Alonzo Highsmith make an immediate impact as the junior led the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and finished third on the team with 80 total tackles. Fellow outside linebacker Jerico Nelson was fifth on the team with 70 tackles and tied for fourth among the Razorbacks with four quarterback hurries.
Smith’s impact was easy to spot in 2010 as Arkansas made the first BCS appearance in program history. Punt returner Joe Adams ranked second in the Southeastern Conference and fifth nationally in punt return average (15.56). Zach Hocker was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after going 56-of-56 on PAT attempts to rank second in the SEC and tie for 12th nationally. It was the third-highest PAT total in program history. Hocker’s 104 points scored was the fourth-highest total in school history and the third highest by a kicker. Hocker’s .842 field goal percentage ranked third in the SEC and tied for 21st in the NCAA and was the third-best single-season percentage (min. 10 attempts) in school history.
John L. Smith Coaching History
April 2012 – Pres. Arkansas (Head Coach)
Dec. 2011 – April 2012 Weber State (Head Coach)
2009 – Dec. 2011 Arkansas (Special Teams Coor./Outside Linebackers)
2003-06 Michigan State (Head Coach)
1998-2002 Louisville (Head Coach)
1995-97 Utah State (Head Coach)
1989-94 Idaho (Head Coach)
1987-88 Washington State (Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator)
1986 Wyoming (Asst. Head Coach)
1982-85 Idaho (Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator)
1977-81 Nevada (Defensive Coordinator)
1972-76 Montana (Assistant Coach)
1971 Weber State (Graduate Assistant)
Bowl Games: 2011 Sugar Bowl; 2010 Liberty Bowl; 2003 Alamo Bowl; 2002 GMAC Bowl; 2001 Liberty Bowl; 2000 Liberty Bowl; 1999 Humanitarian Bowl; 1998 Motor City Bowl; 1997 Humanitarian Bowl
Education: Bonneville HS (Idaho Falls, Idaho), 1967; Weber State, B.S. in physical education, 1971; Montana, M.S. in physical education, 1974