John L. Smith Gets Backing of Arkansas Razorbacks Athletic Director Jeff Long

By Phil Clark

It has already been a rocky year for the Arkanasas Razorbacks. From the scandal that cost Bobby Petrino the coaching job at the school to the hiring of current coach John L. Smith to the consecutive home losses against the UL-Monroe Warhawks and Alabama Crimson Tide to the status of quarterback Tyler Wilson, it has been one big, rocky road for the Razorbacks and their followers to travel.

Smith is starting to get accustomed to the term “hot seat,” as many believe that is what he should already be on as Razorbacks head coach. One person who isn’t quick to judgment about Smith is Jeff Long, the athletic director for  Arkansas University. On Wednesday, Long was quoted as saying that he was sticking with Smith as coach for this season.

As of now, Smith is under a ten-month contract with the Razorbacks.

And while it’s not an excuse, injuries have played a part in the Razorbacks’ woes so far this season. Wilson’s lack of playing time wasn’t the exact cause of why the Tide stomped on the Razorbacks to the tune of 52-0, but may have been a direct cause of their overtime loss to the Warhawks. And last week, Wilson looked like himself though a bit trigger happy, and the Razorbacks lost again. More importantly, season-ending injuries to fullbacks Kiero Small and Kody Walker have put added pressure on Wilson to perform at as high a level possible.

But even with those offensive injury woes, the Razorbacks’ defense is a greater cause for concern. The offense was completely shut down against the Tide, but the Razorbacks’ defense caved very quickly after a promising start. In the loss to the Warhawks, the defense had a three-touchdown lead to protect in the second half and couldn’t do it. And then last week against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Razorbacks’ defense couldn’t hold itself together despite the offense spotting them a 10-0 lead through the first quarter.

I don’t see any other option other than to give Smith a vote of confidence until the season ends. What would anything else accomplish? Any type of move toward removing Smith as coach would be symbolic of quitting on the season and though the season can only go so far now, there’s no point in quitting with eight games left to play. Besides, if people are already dissatisfied with Smith, they will only have to bear with it until the end of the season because if something doesn’t change, there will be a head coaching vacancy in Fayetteville soon after the Razorbacks’ season ends.

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