When John L. Smith was hired as the interim head coach at Arkansas on a 10 month contract there was much rejoicing and laughter – after all Smith is/was a walking quote and sound bite machine. However, what came out on Wednesday is no laughing matter. Steve Greenberg of The Sporting News is reporting that former assistant coaches are saying the team and possibly some of the coaches quit on Smith and Arkansas.
If you take a look at losses to the likes of Louisiana-Monroe and that 52-0 ass kicking they received from Alabama that shouldn't come as a total surprise. What is surprising about it is who's saying these things. Interviewed for this story were Paul Petrino – the offensive coordinator at Arkansas last year – and Paul Haynes – the defensive coordinator at Arkansas last year. Those aren't two disgruntled GA's looking to make a name for themselves.
Those are two coaches that are well respected in the profession flat out saying the players quit on Smith and the team. That my friend, that's a big deal.
Remember, this wasn't an accusation that is new to this team. Star QB Tyler Wilson, who was unable to play in the Alabama massacre, said as much to the media following the game.
What's also interesting is the fact that they lay a lot of the blame for it not on Smith or on the players necessarily, but at the feet of AD Jeff Long who basically cut Smith off at the knee's when he signed him to just a 10 month contract. Both coaches think that the lack of stability or lack of any sort of long term outlook for the staff or players led the team to not play hard and eventually just quit on the coaches and the coaches to quit on Smith as well.
Haynes went so far as to say Jones had a plan to get rid of the coaching staff from the get go.
Need proof? Try this on for size from the Sporting News article:
“Even if they had a plan to get rid of us no matter what, which I think they did, you say two years and I think the kids dig in,” Haynes said. “When you give 10 months, everyone is on egg shells.”
I mean, what's the use of playing hard for a guy that's got virtually no backing and can't really do anything to insert his way of coaching. I know it would be hard to listen to a guy that wouldn't be around for the long haul – why would he really care about me and my future?
O.k., that's not my style – I'm more of the let's play for ourselves and show the world what we, as football players, are all about. Call me crazy, but maybe that more than anything is the biggest sign that this team quit.
Just look at what went on in Happy Valley last year – those players could've easily just packed it in. Instead they banded together and went on to shock the world by going 8-4 and never giving up on each other after a tough few games.
No matter what, it's never good as an AD when former coaches, who are so well respected, are telling you that the AD really didn't have their back and that the team quit on them and them on the head coach because of it. That's the definition of stupidity and perhaps those that laid all the blame at the feet of Smith (ahem… paging Jeff Jones and some on the team) should look themselves in the mirror and do a little soul searching? Just saying…