Smith no longer Arkansas’ coach
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long wasted little time in bringing the John L. Smith era to a close.
Long said in a statement released by the university Saturday that Smith will not return next season as the Razorbacks’ coach. Long met with the interim coach a day after the Razorbacks’ season-ending 20-13 loss to LSU and told him the school “would be making a change in leadership within our program.”
The former Michigan State and Louisville coach was hired away from Weber State in April to replace the fired Bobby Petrino and signed to a 10-month contract. Long says that once a new coach is hired Smith will be reassigned as a consultant through the end of his deal on Feb. 23, 2013.
“I have great respect for coach Smith, and I thank him for the sincere commitment he has shown our program,” Long said. “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.”
Arkansas (4-8, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) began the season ranked in the top 10, openly discussing the possibility of winning an SEC and national championship, but quickly fell out of the polls after a stunning loss to Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 8. The Razorbacks were 21-5 the last two seasons under Petrino, but their injury-depleted roster was unable to recapture that magic under Smith.
Last week’s loss at Mississippi State ensured Arkansas would not return to a bowl game this season for the first time since 2008, Petrino’s first season as coach. The Razorbacks stayed close with the No. 8 Tigers in their season finale on Friday before losing – finishing with the school’s lowest win total since 2005.
“It’s very difficult for me to believe that is not a bowl-eligible football team,” LSU coach Les Miles said following the win over Arkansas. “Watching the talent there, (it’s) very capable.”
Long said last month that Smith was still a candidate to remain with the Razorbacks, even after an early four-game losing streak crushed the Razorbacks’ preseason championship hopes. Long added that it would be apparent at the end of the season whether Smith was his choice, a question he answered Saturday.
Gophers coach Kill has halftime seizure
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill had another seizure, keeping him off the sideline for the second half against Michigan State in Minneapolis.
Kill’s latest episode occurred in the locker room at halftime as the team was returning to the field, the third such game-day occurrence in his second season at the school. This time, he didn’t need to be hospitalized, however.
Kill had a seizure near the end of a loss to New Mexico State last season and was away from the team for several days while doctors tried to bring his condition under better control. This year, he was sent to the hospital for observation after the Gophers were beaten by Northwestern on Oct. 13.
After Minnesota fell 26-10 to Michigan State, athletic director Norwood Teague said Kill was comfortable and all of his vital signs were fine. Kill was cleared to go home after resting for a few hours.