Published September 20, 2012 - 1:01pm
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John L. Smith wanted to be the talk of the media this season at Arkansas, but not like this. It was supposed to be a fairytale of a year for Smith and the explosive Razorbacks, chasing an elusive SEC West divisional crown. Times were good when the Hogs were ranked #8 in the country, led by two preseason Heisman contenders in Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis.
However, it has become very obvious he inherited a Ferrari of a program, a massive upgrade from his clunker, and he’s in way over his head.
Smith was hired to take over a team he was completely familiar with and players who were comfortable with him after the Bobby Petrino drama. He signed a 10-month contract for $850,000, knowing full well there was little chance he would return to call the shots next year unless he posted 10-plus wins. Let’s face it: he was hired because Jeff Long needed someone who he felt comfortable with, someone who knew the program, and someone who would keep the current coaching staff intact. He just fit the bill.
However, the way things have developed this season, it’s just getting hard to watch. It’s a train wreck.
On the field, Arkansas suffered its worst loss in program history, toting its #8 ranking into Louisiana-Monroe only to suffer a catastrophic meltdown of a loss 34-31. The very next week they were slaughtered at home against Alabama 52-0, suffering their first goose egg in Razorback Stadium since 1966. They didn’t stand a chance without their starting quarterback Tyler Wilson, who suffered a severe concussion the week before, and even with Wilson, they would have had little hope. The Hogs are ill-prepared and look like they can’t stop air on defense, the lifeblood of good teams that compete for SEC Championships.
After the Alabama game, Smith mumbled some words to the media to the tune of, “I really don’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to say to our team as well.”
His personal life has also taken a hit, which has been made public. Smith has $25.7 million in liabilities against $1.2 million assets, with most of his assets being tied up in retirement funds. Smith filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on September 6th. In the court filing, he listed a mere $300 in cash on hand and $500 in his checking account. He estimates the only real property he owns is worth $2,000 from a “1/4 interest in deceased parents real estate – 8 acres in Iona, Idaho, that’s worth about $8,000 total”.
It’s a foregone conclusion that he will be gone after this season. He knows it; the fan base knows it; the team knows it.
Just this Wednesday, the eccentric Smith had a very awkward press conference in which he started by telling the media members to “SMILE!… SMILE!…or I’m not talking”.
Wednesday, ironically, was the same day he signed off on the bankruptcy documents that were filed to the court.
This season has been a massive snowball of unfortunate situations for both Smith and Arkansas. The players haven’t been able to bust a grape on the field, and some of the blame should be directed their way. However, from a leadership and coaching standpoint, or lack thereof, is also hard to watch play out first hand.
Arkansas fans are hoping this is just a bad dream, and it will all be gone when they wake up. But the reality of situation is that the program is on preverbal life support and needs major resuscitation immediately.