Yesterday word came out that Arkansas would be moving on from the Bobby Petrino era with the hiring of East Lansing's finest, John L. Smith. This sent up a roar of laughter all over college football, as Smith doesn't exactly have the best reputation after four years of wasted talent and regression at Michigan State. In the years since he has stayed out of the spotlight on Petrino's staff in Fayetteville and recently signed on to take over as head coach at his alma mater, Weber State. Instead, he will return to Arkansas on a 10-month contract to lead the Razorbacks for a 2012 season that some thought would end with Arkansas playing for the national title.
On one hand, this entire situation is laughable. If you look back far enough to reflect on Smith's last head coaching stint --- the toxic four year period at Michigan State --- there is very little to take away that doesn't leave you feeling confident. Those Michigan State teams were complete disasters that squandered what talent was there by turning the team almost completely loose. Michigan State seemingly found new ways to collapse in on itself with each passing week. Smith's career at Michigan State is similar to a new pilot taking over mid-flight, pulling back on the controls sending the plane briefly climbing before the engines go out and the whole mess falls out of the sky. This is what you hear before it hits:
However, this isn't the be all, end all to Arkansas coaching problems. Smith is being hired strictly on an interim basis right now, and it has been done because of his familiarity with the program. This isn't a Luke Fickell situation where there is an added degree of difficulty because of player suspensions. Smith has the opportunity to win, and very little pressure or expectation to do so. Paul Myerberg explains the logic:
Everything about Smith works. He's here for the short term. He's been around the block, both in the big picture - Louisville, Michigan State - and at Arkansas itself, where he spent the last three years as Petrino's special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. He knows the roster; the roster knows him.
He can allow Arkansas to not miss a beat, even if the offense will miss Petrino's ability to make in-game alterations. It's only in the details that the Razorbacks' approach will change; from above, the team that steps on the field in September will resemble in nearly every way the team that topped Kansas State in January's Cotton Bowl.
Is hiring John L Smith for a year just crazy enough to work? Maybe. If not, the athletic department has a full year to find a replacement.
It could end poorly, but Smith could yet surprise us all. Your guess is as good as mine.
Now onto the pile of links that I have saved up from the weekend:
Recruiting Update: April 23, 2012 - Touch the Banner runs down the recruiting news from the last week or so. Two very high profile targets have announced decision dates (EJ Levenberry and S'ua Cravens) and neither of them looks promising.
You won't have to wait long for Levenberry; he is deciding today at 3pm.
Profilin' the Tide: Quarterbacks - Holdin' the Rope does a long profile on Alabama's options at quarterback this season, and as always the answer should scare you.
Barnes Arico formally introduced as ninth head women’s basketball coach - Michigan hired a new women's basketball coach, Kim Barnes Arico fresh off a ten-year stint at St. Johns where she became the winningest coach in program history.
Josh Furman trial: Witnesses say they weren't afraid of U-M football player - Some good news on the Josh Furman front, it appears that the domestic violence charges may be a bit overblown. What this means for Furman's legal standing and place on the team remains to be seen, but I'll take it as a positive.
6 risers and fallers from Michigan football team's spring camp - AnnArbor.com takes a look at six players that either saw their stock rise or fall during spring camp.
Looking for a good way to kill three birds with one stone? Now you can read about the principles of Michigan's passing offense, dissect Devin Gardner's spring game performance, and waste time at work. This two part diary over at mgoblog is well worth the time you will put into it.
B1G 2012 // Ohio State Cocktail Party Preview - Check out Off Tackle Empire this week for the 2012 season preview of Our Sworn Enemy to the South.
Better Know a Run Game- Crack Toss - Remember Michigan getting killed on the edges against Michigan State last season? This is how it was done.
Fenway Park's boozy birthday party this weekend brought out the hoi polloi in Red Sox history and even a confused-looking Bud Selig. The fortress of Yawkey Way wasn't the only big-league park that opened 100 years ago, though; Tiger Stadium, too, hosted big-league ball for the first time on April 20, 1912.
Deadspin remember's Tiger Stadium.
It's odd, isn't it? I don't mean melancholy or emblematic — it's those things, too, but the tragedy-of-mortality, silent-season-of-a-hero vein of sports lyricism isn't what I'm after here. It's just, at a basic level, strange that the machinery of sports cranks out this class of enormously celebrated people cut off from the source of their celebrity, icons whose cultural value lies primarily in serving as mobile reminders of something other people once saw them do. What must it be like, to be a piece of living memorabilia? I sometimes think that the life of a retired sports legend would be like experiencing existence as the Andy Warhol painting of yourself. Or, at the very least, like discovering you're being haunted by a ghost, and you're the ghost.
Brian Phillips at the top of his game, folks.