Former Arkansas coaches criticize Jeff Long and say players quit on the team


In separate interviews with Sporting News, Paul Haynes, former Arkansas defensive coordinator, and Paul Petrino, former offensive coordinator, both criticized Jeff Long’s decision to hire an “interim” head coach in John L. Smith. They didn’t criticize Smith personally, because both coaches care for him as a person, but they, along with the rest of the country, didn’t think a 10-month head coach was the answer.

And it certainly wasn’t.

“I don’t think an A.D. should ever hire somebody for 10 months,” Paul Petrino said. “Players know what that means; they understand that. It hurts the power of the head coach and the assistants.

“They should’ve hired (Smith) for two years or hired someone else for two years, or just (expletive)-canned all of us.”

Both coaches felt the same about the situation – hire a longer-term coach to a multi-year contract or can the entire staff. The 10-month contract basically told all the players and the rest of the coaching staff that unless they win the SEC, they, along with Smith, wouldn’t be returning.

In a slightly separate story, Paul Petrino confirmed some players quit on the team.  After the season turned out to be a dumpster fire, older players started worrying about their draft status and packed it in, according to the coaches.

“There were some seniors who kind of hung it up, to be honest with you,” Petrino said. “They were going to worry about their futures more than that team. A couple seniors said they were hurt and I don’t know if they really were.”

Haynes agreed that the players quit, but he didn’t fault he players, because the 10-month hire caused instability.

“I really don’t fault them, to be honest with you,” Haynes said. “I don’t fault the kids for thinking that way. Again, there was no stability there. Again, it goes back to, ‘Who am I playing for?’ Once they can’t say, ‘We’re trying to save the coaches’ jobs’—if they’re just playing for the university, sometimes kids feel the university let them down.”

John L. Smith also questioned some players’ injuries, and whether or not they could have played.

“If a kid’s hurt, he’s hurt. Could some of the guys that were hurt have played with those injuries and continued on? That’s up to those guys,” Smith said.

“But I think some of the players, some of the older guys, said, ‘Why should I continue on?’ They were looking ahead to the NFL.”

The players who were speculated to have faked injuries are senior tight end Chris Gragg, linebacker Tenarius Wright and running back Knile Davis, according to the Sporting News article.

Similarly, senior quarterback Tyler Wilson was both hammered and praised in the media for calling his players out after the 52-0 loss against Alabama and telling everyone they quit.

“No, sorry, we’re not doing questions today. I’ll start with the football game. Obviously it wasn’t very pretty to watch. It wasn’t pretty for me to sit on the sideline and watch as a player. It sucks I can’t be out there to do anything about it. Do I feel like we at times gave up out there? Yeah. Absolutely. And as a leader, it sucks to see people not do their jobs and things go wrong. There have been a lot of things that have gone that way. As a leader at this point, you’ve got to look forward, and there’s been a lot of people jump off the bandwagon and it’s my responsibility as a leader to keep everybody in this organization, in this team, in that locker room, together. And I’m going to make sure of it going forward. We’ve got a big game against Rutgers next week. I’m going to do everything in my power to be a part of it and be the starting quarterback to run out there on the field and get a win. You’ve got to start with one before you can get the rest of them. But I give you my word I’m going to do the best in my ability and the best in my power to make that happen. That’s all I’ve got.”

Even if the players quit in 2012, it’s a direct result of the failure of the coaching staff.

Do you find it ironic that throughout the season the coaches talked about how the players didn’t quit?




So, why are they singing a different tune now?

Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE



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