Smith out as head Hog football coach

John L. Smith has been fired as the head Razorback football coach.

The news released Saturday morning was no surprise to anyone who watched a talented pre-season top 10 favorite fall to a disappointing 4-8 season, including a loss to  University of Louisiana-Monroe and a 52-0 blowout loss to Alabama.

The team ended the season Friday (Nov. 22) with a 20-13 loss in Fayetteville to LSU.

Smith signed on to a 10-month contract following the April dismissal of Bobby Petrino as the head coach. Petrino allegedly lied to University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long about the circumstances of an affair with program employee Jessica Dorrell.

“With our 2012 football season concluded, I met earlier today with Coach John L. Smith to inform him we would be making a change in leadership within our football program. I have great respect for Coach Smith and I thank him for the sincere commitment he has shown our program. 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,” Long noted in the statement.

Smith, who also faces up to $40 million  will remain as a consultant to the program until his contract ends Feb. 23, 2013.

According to the UA press release, Smith will assist with the transition to a new coaching staff. Also, all assistant coaches have the option to remain a part of the football staff pending the hiring of a new head coach.

Long praised the coaching staff for their efforts during the disappointing season.

“They have shown remarkable professionalism and a true commitment to the student-athletes in our program. They demonstrated great character in maintaining their commitment to our program,” Long said.

Long continued to stress that having Smith on for the 2012 season allowed the program to “take the time necessary to identify the right coach for the future and to do so in a time that would allow us to attract quality candidates.”

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Following is the full statement from Smith:
“I am very grateful to Chancellor (David) Gearhart and Jeff Long for the opportunity they gave me to return to the University of Arkansas and coach this football team. I have enjoyed guiding this group and I am extremely proud of how everyone in our program stuck together and showed tremendous character by competing throughout the season. Everyone on our staff has my appreciation as they all believed in our goals and stayed committed to the development of these young men.  I would like to thank the Razorback fans for demonstrating their support for these student-athletes and this coaching staff during a challenging time. I enjoyed every day of this experience and this profession has been and will continue to be rewarding to me. During my time here, it has been incredible to be a part of helping this program grow and I wish everyone involved nothing but success in the future.”

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