Arkansas officially dismissed interim head coach John L. Smith on Saturday morning, following a 20-13 loss to LSU on Friday. Smith stepped into an awkward situation on a 10-month contract and, after inheriting a preseason top 10 team, led the Razorbacks to a 4-8 season.
Here is what Arkansas AD Jeff Long’s statement:
“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. 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.
“I would also like to express my gratitude to our assistant football coaching staff, and our support staff. They have shown remarkable professionalism and a true commitment to the student-athletes in our program. They demonstrated great character in maintaining their commitment to our program.”
Here is what Long said about finding the Hogs’ new head coach.
“Last April, when I appointed Coach Smith for the 2012 season, I indicated I thought this would provide us the opportunity to take the time necessary to identify the right coach for the future and to do so in a time that would allow us to attract quality candidates. Our new coach will be an individual who shares the passion for success our fans do and who is willing to work relentlessly to achieve our goals. It will be someone who embraces the expectations of winning a national championship and succeeding in the classroom with discipline, honesty and integrity. The leader of our student-athletes will continuously stress academic accountability and the value of earning a degree from the University of Arkansas. Our new coach will embrace what this program means not just to the university, but to the entire state of Arkansas and will share the vision for the future success of Razorback Football.”
Smith provided this statement on Saturday’s news.
“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. 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.”