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John L. Smith, via KFSM-TV.
The Arkansas Razorbacks brought out temporary head coach John L. Smith at a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Smitih's first as a FBS head coach since 2006. Clad in cowboy boots and a suit, Smith hit the ground running, setting up a rock star performance later this year at SEC Media Days.
Smith insisted on no stupid questions, then noted one reporter was looking "fat and sloppy" before openly yearning for a mountain to climb and insisting his staff not remain "in this little ivory tower." He also joked that Jeff Long shot down his initial request to be considered for the interim job. The contrast between the clammed-up Bobby Petrino and Smith couldn't be more immediately apparent.
He said his Weber State players understood why he left his alma mater, adding that his wife called the Arkansas job his last chance at a national title and acknowledging that he'd think of a successful year as "a little redemption for Michigan State." He said leaving Ogden was a "very, very hard decision."
As far as the current staff goes, Smith said he'll be slow to veto and criticize, of course noting that he'll do so when necessary. He threw out a "dummy" there.
Among other highlights, Smith intentionally mispronounced Knile Davis' name, joked about Tyler Wilson already kicking him out, responded with "are you referring to me?" when asked a question referencing mixed nuts, got fired up about special teams, chuckled when walked off stage by Long and began hugging people as soon as he stepped down. Whew!
For better and worse, Arkansas really couldn't have hired anybody besides John L. Smith as its next mercenary head coach.
SI.com: Arkansas' fascinating hire.
After former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino wore out his welcome in parts of Texas, new coach John L. Smith may not receive a warm embrace when he enters the state due to his close relationship with the disgraced Petrino.
It's very hard to fight top-end, rising star football coaches in April, so the Arkansas Razorbacks were put into a bit of a tough spot when they were forced to fire head coach Bobby Petrino for cause. Rather than settling for a permanent hire that didn't live up to their standards, Arkansas has handed a 10-month deal to former special teams coach John L. Smith, who has FBS head coaching experience at Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State.
The university announced the hiring in a release on Monday, and Smith will be formally introduced as the interim head coach at a press conference on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET. Athletic director Jeff Long was unsurprisingly thrilled to at least temporarily resolve his head coaching problem.
"I am extremely pleased to welcome Coach John L. Smith back to the Razorback program as our new head football coach. Coach Smith brings a wealth of football knowledge, BCS conference head coaching experience, passion for the game and a close familiarity with the current team and coaching staff. I firmly believe that his selection is in the best interests of the young men in our program and will also best serve the mission of our football program and university in achieving success on and off the field in the upcoming season and in the long term."
Smith was the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Arkansas from 2009-2011 before he left to take the head coaching job at Weber State, where he did not coach a game before coming back to Arkansas. Smith's deal will be worth $850,000 with performance and academic incentives that could cause that salary to increase.
The Arkansas Razorbacks will soon announce former Michigan State and Louisville head coach John L. Smith as their 2012 interim, the Associated Press reported. Pat Forde now confirms the report, adding a note about the length of Smith's term that runs contrary to previous reports, which had the next Hogs boss being named a non-interim:
Heavy speculation over the past week was that Arkansas would hire an interim coach for the 2012 season and then work on a long-term replacement for fired Bobby Petrino. Smith is not an interim coach in title, but has a 10-month contract and a long-term search is expected after the season.
Smith left Arkansas as special teams coach just months ago to take over the head coaching job at Weber State, his alma mater. If Arkansas was hoping to switch up the reputation it got by swiping Bobby Petrino away from another job ... this won't do it. While even a temporary head coaching job in the SEC surpasses just about any non-FBS job, this is still quite a surprising move all around.
Just about Arkansas' entire coaching staff is familiar with Smith, and his hire will enable coordinators to focus on coordinatin', but this is a name nobody predicted.
The Arkansas Razorbacks kept a tight lid on coaching rumors until the brink of their 4 p.m. team meeting, but a report has finally emerged as to the identity of their next coach. According to the Associated Press, it will be John L. Smith, former Arkansas special teams coach and current coach of Weber State.
Smith, 63, left the Hogs after the 2011 season to take over at WSU. Previously, he's worked as the head coach of Michigan State, Louisville, Utah State and Idaho, with other coaching stops throughout the country. He went 132-86 as a head coach, with a 4-11 mark in postseason games.
Smith left the Louisville job amid some controversy, as he bolted for the Spartans before the Cardinals' bowl game. He was replaced by Bobby Petrino, and now my brain hurts. He also leaves Weber State, his alma mater, without having coached a game there.
Whoever the Arkansas Razorbacks are planning on unveiling as their next head coach -- if indeed they are set on announcing him (or her) Monday -- they've been able to keep the name under wraps for quite a while. Rumors continue to swell, but there's no solid report on who the hire might be, if it's even an outside name and not an interim.
However, here's an additional report that the process is moving along:
KFSM's Mike Irwin:Razorback Foundation has approved a contract.— ESPN Arkansas (@espn_arkansas) April 23, 2012
The only widely rumored candidate, Bud Foster, won't be the subject of either an Arkansas press conference or the one at Virginia Tech, which will reportedly mark the end of basketball coach Seth Greenberg's time in Blacksburg. But now we're talking about ACC basketball somehow. Many had wondered if Foster would be the Razorbacks hire, you see.
Between this and Bobby Petrino's own arrival in Fayetteville, I think we've all learned Jeff Long is good at keeping secrets.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have a previously scheduled team meeting set for Monday afternoon, though it's one at which they could announce their head coach for the remainder of 2012. All expectations entering Monday had the Hogs revealing they've chosen which member of their staff will serve as the interim, but Arkansas sports talk host Bo Mattingly reports otherwise:
Am told new coach to be announced this afternoon. Will not be anybody on current staff.Not expecting word "interim" in announcement— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) April 23, 2012
(And, no, it's not Bud Foster, despite the Hokies scheduling a likely coincidental surprise press conference.)
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, defensive coordinator Paul Haynes, running backs coach Tim Horton and current acting head coach Taver Johnson have been the four most frequently mentioned as possible interims. If the interim route isn't the answer, there's no telling who the new hire could be, as rumors have flown in every direction sincewas fired.
In possibly related news, a Razorbacks football banquet has been delayed.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told the media he endorsed Arkansas' decision to fire head coach Bobby Petrino. Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long fired Petrino with cause earlier this month, when it was discovered Petrino lied to Long about his motorcycle accident and revealed his relationship with Jessica Dorrell, another department employee. Slive lent his full support to Long's decision, stating, "I was proud of the action taken by the university."
If Arkansas had not taken any action, Slive would not comment on whether he would have suspended Petrino himself, enacting a power he has as the head of the conference. He would not address the hypothetical, according to Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News:
"That issue never came to me so I'm not going to talk about it," Slive said. "If it ever came to me, I would have to make that decision. It's something I have not yet had to address and hopefully I never will have to address."
Arkansas will play its spring game on Saturday with Taver Johnson as interim head coach. Long has said he will make an update announcement on the school's search to replace Petrino early next week.
UAB Blazers coach Garrick McGee has been one of the most prominent names in the Arkansas Razorbacks coaching search, at least until everybody got crazy and started throwing around Jon Gruden and Pete Carroll. However, FootballScoop.com is reporting McGee won't be the next head coach, running contrary to a report of theirs from just the night before.
Discussions with Garrick McGee have ended. Representatives told us that Jeff Long has made the decision that having a full process after the season was better for all parties involved ... adding that asking any current head coach to take this position at this time wasn't the right thing to do.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was named in a Wednesday night report regarding the Arkansas Razorbacks coaching search. According to the story, the Hogs had contacted the former USC coach, but found themselves turned down. Carroll did spend a year under Lou Holtz at Arkansas in 1977, for what it's worth, but makes far more money in the NFL than he would in Fayetteville.
Carroll, a noted prankster since way back, followed up on the rumor by tweeting the following:
I still love the Arkansas fight song... But Mooch is the man... Go Razorbacks!— Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll) April 19, 2012
That's in reference to an earlier report that Steve Mariucci was floating his name for the job. Seems like Carroll having himself a good time, but just in case we'd like to see a newsman on the matter, here was Chris Mortensen:
The Arkansas Razorbacks' search for Bobby Petrino's replacement continues, even if it still appears that Garrick McGee is the front-runner for the position. But that hasn't stopped Arkansas from reaching out to eminent names in the field, including Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, according to a Fayetteville TV station.
Carroll was reportedly contacted by Arkansas, but turned the school down. He has been in Seattle since 2010, when he left the USC Trojans to accept the head coaching position in the Emerald City.
Carroll's success at USC is well-documented, but Arkansas fans likely remember Carroll's Trojans teams better than most. In 2005 and 2006, USC handed Arkansas teams two beatdowns by a combined score of 120-31.
In addition to reporting that Carroll turned down Arkansas, the station reports that NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci contacted Arkansas about the coaching vacancy. Mariucci was reportedly interested in the job earlier this week.
The Arkansas Razorbacks will reportedly announce their new head coach early next week, with popular interim candidates including running backs coach Tim Horton, assistant Taver Johnson and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino. Keeping the staff intact appears to be a high priority considering it's already April, but there is a way the program could bring on a new head coach from another school while still maintaining stability.
Last Wednesday we told you that two informed sources told us that Garrick McGee would be the new head coach at Arkansas. Today, we received further confirmation of those reports. Both sources we heard from today tell us to look for McGee to be announced no later than Monday (reminder both teams have their Spring games this Saturday).
McGee was the OC for the Hogs until taking the UAB job after last season. To this point, he's sort of denied looking into the Arkansas job, but mostly just wants reporters to not ask him after they've already asked him once.
Former Tennessee Volunteers coach Phil Fulmer has been part of college football's biggest rumor for the past couple days, ever since former Vols assistant Doug Matthews told Nashville radio that the College Football Hall of Famer has heard from the Arkansas Razorbacks about their vacant coaching job. The report has been confirmed by the Sporting News's Matt Hayes, albeit with a reported stipulation: no interim gig.
Fulmer, who's been vocal about coaching again since being fired in 2008, denies he's been in touch, but certainly sounds like he's open to the idea:
"When I left Tennessee, I was asked if I would coach again, and I said I would consider it if it was at a place where I could compete for a championship,'' Fulmer said. "Arkansas does qualify as that kind of place, as there is a very solid foundation there.''
Athletic director Jeff Long advises everyone to settle down and ignore the flashing orange lights:
Hog Fans, please remain calm and please do not believe rumors.But do come out to the the spring game and support our young men!! #gohogs— Jeff Long (@jefflongUA) April 18, 2012
The Arkansas Razorbacks are expected to finalize their 2012 head coach search early next week, the Sporting News' Steve Greenberg reports. That would mean an announcement a couple days or so after the Saturday spring game, which marks the conclusion of spring practices.
Assistant head coach Taver Johnson was named the interim for the remainder of spring upon Bobby Petrino's suspension, and he's been seeing the program through even after his boss was fired. He, running backs coach Tim Horton and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino have been the most frequently named potential interim coaches, if Jeff Long chooses to keep the staff intact for the season itself.
Hiring a whole new coach is highly unlikely, as the new guy would have virtually no time to install a new system before the season begins. Players have called for the staff to remain as intact as possible, with some lobbying for a particular position coach or another.
Then there are, like, Jon Gruden and Phil Fulmer rumors. As always. But it seems that will all have to wait until December.
Following a Tuesday report that former Tennessee Volunteers coach and ingoing College Football Hall of Famer Phil Fulmer has heard from the Arkansas Razorbacks, Matt Hayes of the Sporting News reports Fulmer has some interest in return. But very particular interest.
Source close to Phil Fulmer,Re: Arkansas job: "I think it's possible, but not likely." Fulmer doesn't want interim; wants permanent.— Matt Hayes (@Matt_HayesSN) April 18, 2012
Fulmer has made it clear he wants to get back into coaching since being fired by the Vols in 2008. He hasn't worked for a school besides Tennessee since his year with Vanderbilt in 1979, with that and a four-year stint at Wichita State bookended by lots and lots of time spent with the Vols. His Tennessee teams went 152-52 and won a national title.
Arkansas seems likely to name an interim coach this go-round, and may be wise to next choose a coach who can carry on Bobby Petrino's points-happy tradition, since the Hogs are set up with lots of speed at their offensive skill positions for the time being.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have now gone almost a week without a full-time head coach. Acting boss man Taver Johnson continues to man spring football minus Bobby Petrino, but describes the current status of his staff as like being in limbo.
If the Hogs do end up going the interim route for 2012, it's interesting to note several members of the staff are getting to take turns being the most talked about candidate for a spell. It's been running backs coach Tim Horton and Johnson himself, and right now it's offensive coordinator Paul Petrino (yes, relation).
Quarterback Tyler Wilson says he'll respect whatever decision athletic director Jeff Long makes, but does want to point out his strong relationship with Petrino. Wilson and others have noted the need for continuity, with spring football almost over. A whole new coaching staff would have virtually no chance to install its own system in time for the season, making an interim hire much more manageable.
The Arkansas Razorbacks named assistant Taver Johnson the interim head coach during Bobby Petrino's suspension, but what if Jeff Long ends up deciding to go the interim route for the rest of the year? While the Hogs have the budget to hire almost any coaching candidate they could attract, doing so under such a time crunch could make it better to wait until after the season to pursue a long-term hire.
Knile Davis is among those supporting running backs coach Tim Horton for the job, while offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and Johnson are also thought to be in the running.
CoachingSearch.com lists Horton's many ties to Hogs football. He was a Razorbacks player in the late 1980s and has coached positions at Appalachian State, Air Force and Kansas State. He was hired as Air Force's offensive coordinator in 2007 before coming home to Arkansas, making him one of several coaches to leave a Falcons staff for the Hogs that year.
The coaching job of the Arkansas Razorbacks is still open but, according to Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com, some NFL names are intrigued by the job:
Sources tell me that former San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions head coach Steve Mariucci is interested in the Arkansas head coaching job... Yet another source tells me that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be willing to talk if contacted by Long.
Not exactly the most important news -- no word on whether Arkansas has mutual interest, or whether Mariucci or McDaniels would actually take the job, just the ever-present "interest."
Roussell also reports that Arkansas AD Jeff Long -- despite the late timing of the Bobby Petrino firing in the coaching search season -- is taking his time with the process and hasn't spoken with previously mentioned candidates Tommy Tuberville and Skip Holtz.
Mariucci and McDaniels are both experienced coaches -- both have been NFL head coaches -- but not necessarily on the college level. Between the two of them, they have one combined season as a college head coach -- Mariucci was in charge at Cal in 1996, when the Golden Bears went 6-6. Neither has worked on the college level since 2000, when McDaniels was a graduate assistant at Michigan State. So it's a bit difficult to say how they'd adapt to the different responsibilities of a college coach, such as recruiting.
In case you need a grain of salt to take this with, here's a tweet from Adam Schefter from right before USC hired Lane Kiffin several years back:
USC and former 49ers/Lions HC Steve Mariucci have had conversations. Look for those to now continue.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2010
Garrick McGee is going to be asked about the Arkansas job, vacated when Bobby Petrino was fired for the scandal that erupted after his motorcycle mishap, and he's sure trying to head things off at the pass. The current UAB coach set a policy of not discussing other jobs, and he plans to stick to it. So please stop asking him.
Asked once whether he had interviewed with Arkansas, which prompted an answer explaining his "no comment" policy, he was asked again in a slightly different manner. And that's when he went all elementary school teacher with his answer (via al.com)
Q: Would you entertain conversations with Arkansas about that job?
McGee: I talk to my staff a lot, and the players, about listening skills. And I tell them that in today's society, listening has really fell by the wayside. Like, I'll say something in a meeting and then five minutes later someone will ask me the same exact question. Then I go 'You need to go to my Listening 101 school.' One more time, I am not interested in talking about my employment with any university, not such this situation but for the rest of my career. That's the protocol that I'm going to follow.
And this, friends, is how you simultaneously kill a question and embarrass a reporter at the same time. I don't know if Garrick McGee will end up at Arkansas in the near future, but he may just break out the ruler and bang on desks during team meetings, wherever it is he's coaching.
"Obviously it's been tough on everybody,'' senior quarterback Tyler Wilson told the Associated Press. "It's a unique situation. It's tough for everybody, but I think it's unique that our team has been very coherent through all of it.''
Running back Knile Davis expressed shock and admitted he was hurt in the wake of the Petrino firing and has even gone as far as to steer clear from Facebook and Twitter -- he even turned off his cell phone at one point. "We've put a lot of hard work over these last four years to get where we're at,'' Davis told the Associated Press. "Just to see it go down the drain in 24 hours is just, you know, it hurts. But we can't do anything but move forward.''
Even assistant coach Paul Petrino, Bobby Petrino's brother, seemed shocked by the news. "I had no idea. I did not know anything about it,'' Petrino told the Associated Press. "Bobby's my brother. I love him. I will always love him. He made a mistake. He's paying deeply for it." Petrino will remain on board with the current staff through spring practices, but his situation is unknown beyond that point.
Many of the Arkansas players have played their entire time with the Razorbacks under Bobby Petrino, including Wilson, who decided to return for his senior season instead of opting for the 2012 NFL Draft. Wilson met with Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long to express his desire to keep the same coaching staff in place for continuity, but the new head coach and staff remains an issue still up in the air.
Art Briles isn't expected to make a run at the Arkansas coaching job.
The Arkansas Razorbacks fired football coach Bobby Petrino with cause, meaning they terminated him because of his adventurous conduct off the field, not because of his team's performance. Most contracts include clauses that allow for athletic departments to get rid of coaches who do things like, say, putting mistresses on the payroll.
Though Petrino said in his goodbye letter that he doesn't quite agree with athletic director Jeff Long's characterization of how the whole episode went down, it sounds like we won't have to watch the two squabble in court over what actually did happen.
Bobby Petrino accepts responsibility for actions and result and will not appeal Arkansas' termination with cause— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) April 13, 2012
Such a process could have been disastrous for Petrino, as both sides would've had to show all their cards. As we're seeing with merely the release of Petrino's phone records, there are quite a few cars the coach would prefer to keep hidden.
Since Bobby Petrino was fired, a number of high-profile coaches have been linked to the vacant Arkansas Razorbacks head coaching job. Presumed top targets Skip Holtz and Gus Malzahn have already denied being interested in the position, and Nebraska Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini has become the latest high-profile coach to join the club.
Pelini said speculation linking him to the Arkansas job is "ludicrous" and that he's happy with his current job. Pelini has been at Nebraska -- a large program with a large fanbase -- for four seasons, and he has a 38-16 record in that time. He collects a good paycheck and wouldn't exactly be making a huge move up in the coaching world by leaving for Arkansas.
Oh, and anyone else you've heard linked to the job? They haven't spoken to Arkansas. It's all rumors, according to a man who would know, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long.
At this time I have not spoken to anyone about the Head Coaching position.— Jeff Long (@jefflongUA) April 12, 2012
The Arkansas Razorbacks need a new head coach, and they'd certainly prefer a smooth transition if at all possible. The only moves to that effect would be promoting Paul Petrino or Taver Johnson to interim coach for the rest of the year or wooing former offensive coordinator Garrick McGee back from the UAB Blazers, where he took over as head coach this year.
McGee seems to be the clear fan favorite, and, according to FootballScoop.com, he may have the inside track. Football Scoop cites two sources who say Jeff Long has spoken with McGee about trying to retain as much of the current coaching staff as possible, including Paul Petrino, with McGee as the new man in charge.
Both UAB and Arkansas are currently in spring football practices. McGee was asked earlier in the week about whether he's been in contact with anyone from his former gig. He said he spoke briefly to Petrino. This was all before the termination was announced.
South Florida Bulls coach Skip Holtz has appeared on quite a few lists of potential candidates for the freshly vacant Arkansas Razorbacks job. He's the son of a former Hogs coach and has maintained a solid team despite being surrounded by bigger programs, which certainly fits the Arkansas bill.
But Holtz became the second to publicly deny interest in the job, telling Greg Auman he hasn't talked to anybody from Arkansas:
"I am not looking to leave here. I am not calling anybody. I am not trying to put my name out there. I want to be the head football coach here," he said. "I enjoy it here. I like it here. I addressed this in the offseason when some other opportunities were open. I said then I think we have a lot of things we want to get done here. We've got a great senior class coming back, and the attitude and morale of this football team is my No. 1 priority."
If the Arkansas Razorbacks want to win in the future, AD Jeff Long needs to hire a head coach with recruiting ties to the state of Texas. Or hire assistants who do.
When Gus Malzahn left the Auburn Tigers for the Arkansas St. Red Wolves, it was a shocker. One of the nation's best assistants, he took a job in his native state for less money than he was making as a coordinator. Some people just really like their native states.
But now that a much bigger job with much bigger resources has opened up just down the road elsewhere in his native state, of course Malzahn is going to be a hotly rumored candidate. But Malzahn says to Arkansas' 103.9 FM that he's had no contact with the Arkansas Razorbacks and that he's committed to staying at ASU:
Per @GametimeMickey Gus Malzahn says: "I'm the coach at Arkansas State. I'm not worried about anything else. I'm committed to being here."— Chris Bahn (@cbahn) April 11, 2012
Malzahn first made his name as a legendary high school football coach in Arkansas, with his innovative offense setting national records and winning state titles. He served for a year as Arkansas' offensive coordinator before getting a promotion onto the Tulsa staff.
The Arkansas Razorbacks may be losing a talented head coach, but they still return one of the SEC's most power-packed offenses. Provided, of course, that quarterback Tyler Wilson returns to lead the way -- and, in the first piece of all-around good news for Hogs fans all week, he's staying, according to multiple reports.
Can confirm what @TomMurphyADG tweeted earlier. QB Tyler Wilson has no plan to apply for NFL supplemental draft, according to a source.— Robbie Neiswanger (@NWARobbie) April 11, 2012
Wilson led the SEC in passer rating and yards per game last year as a junior. He loses Jarius Wright and Joe Adams, but gets to pair Knile Davis with Dennis Johnson out of the backfield, along with Cobi Hamilton and others emerging on the receiving corps.
When Wilson does exit, he could be considered a potential first round pick.
Bobby Petrino made Arkansas a better job for his replacement, while Jeff Long made college football better by firing Bobby Petrino. Life's like that sometimes.
Arkansas' new coach is unlikely to be as good at coaching as Bobby Petrino, so he'll need to recruit better.
The 2013 Arkansas recruiting class is now down to one member after Alvin Manvel (TX) wide receiver Austin Bennett decommitted in the immediate aftermath of head coach Bobby Petrino's firing Tuesday evening.
Arkansas Razorbacks athletic director Jeff Long elected to fire Bobby Petrino after the latter's motorcycle adventure that led to his cover-up of an employed mistress, making the announcement official Tuesday night. Petrino was a popular coach in the Ozarks, and the school has plenty of booster money tied up in Petrino remaining aboard, but felt the coach's latest breach of trust was just too much to bear.
Live from Bud Walton Arena, Long began by recounting his presser from last week, when he found Petrino had "not been forthcoming" about the incident despite "a number of opportunities."
Long said he's "spoken with key individuals" involved with the accident, including Jessica Dorrell, Lance King and others. He "reviewed the manner, the timing, the extent to which Coach Petrino shared information," including what he told players and faculty.
Petrino's "personal and professional" relationship with Dorrell contributed to Long's decision to fire Petrino.
"Coach Petrino knowingly misled" the university, said Long, adding that Petrino had four days to reveal the truth to the school or the media but chose not to. His relationship led to Dorrell being chosen over 158 other applicants and landed her a $20,000 payment along the way. Wow! Video evidence of such a claim:
Petrino "adversely affected" the reputation of the Razorbacks, said Long. He said the relationship wasn't against university policy, but found that Petrino "abused his authority" and "jeopardized the integrity of the football program."
Long called Petrino "misleading and manipulative" for using athletic department funds to hire a person "with whom he had a personal relationship." His "conduct is contrary to the character and responsibilities we demand of our head football coach," Long said, adding that such language is included in his contract.
Taver Johnson will remain as the interim coach through spring drills. He assured the assembly the school will seek a coach "Razorback fans across the nation" can be proud of, citing the SEC West as a selling point. The search will begin "tonight," Long said, refusing to offer a deadline of any sort and refusing to comment on whether offensive coordinator Paul Petrino would be considered.
Long nearly choked up while talking about addressing Hogs players. He said he told them to focus on their academics and spring ball. "I'm committed to providing them with leadership befitting of the development of student-athletes," Long said. He called it an "obligation." Here's that moment:
"We have high standards," Long said. "And a national reputation. Our expectations from our employees can be no less than what we expect of our students. No individual can be bigger than the team, the Razorback football program, or the University of Arkansas."
Petrino was fired with cause, Long confirmed, meaning there won't be any buyout paid. Long denied that he negotiated with Petrino -- a previous report had claimed the coach was offered conditions but turned them down.
Petrino will release a statement later Tuesday night.
Arkansas has reportedly made its decision regarding the fate of football coach Bobby Petrino. An official announcement is expected at an 8:15 p.m. ET press conference.
Lost in all of the controversy surrounding Bobby Petrino, his motorcycle accident and his relationship with a subordinate is the fact that his Arkansas Razorbacks team is still working on getting better at football. The Razorbacks are in the middle of spring practice, and they quietly returned to the practice field on Friday.
Taver Johnson is the acting head coach, and he's currently being careful not to say anything. Seeing as Bobby Petrino could still potentially be his boss this fall, this is probably a good idea. He was asked what he thought about the situation and didn't immediately pass judgment.
"Again, you don't know all the facts, you don't have all the information. So, until you have all those things, you can't really pass judgment. The players, I think they're along the same lines. Nobody really knows, so you can't really answer a ton of questions yet until you find out.''
It might be a few days before Johnson or any of the Arkansas players know Petrino's fate, and they're going to have to continue practicing without knowing who is going to be in charge when real games roll around. Practicing at the same level as they were practicing at pre-motorcycle crash could be understandably difficult.
If Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino is fired for lying about his relationship with a newly-hired subordinate, former offensive coordinator Garrick McGee is a popular candidate to replace him. McGee's in his first spring practice period as new coach of the UAB Blazers. After practice Friday, McGee was asked about his old boss:
Well, it is an unfortunate situation for everybody involved. I think that in crises like this, true leadership takes charge. And the time I spent there, I'm convinced that they have really good leadership from the top down, all the way to the locker room, with Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis ... and those guys. I trust the leadership at the university to make the proper decisions to keep the program on top, where they are now.
I did speak with him the morning after the accident. We did have some communication, but I haven't spoke with him since then.
I'm a part of that program. I know all the people involved. I know the kids. The leadership, the Razorback nation. Just to see them going through a tough time right now is tough.
McGee, along with Arkansas St. Red Wolves coach Gus Malzahn, has been the most frequently mentioned name as a possible new coach if Petrino indeed must go. Both have connections to the state and to the program in particular. When McGee got the Blazers job, Petrino was apparently so excited for him that Arkansas announced the hire days before UAB did.
In a matter of days, what seemed like an innocent, albeit scary, motorcycle accident involving Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino has spiraled out of control. On Thursday night, Petrino was placed on paid administrative leave as the athletic department investigates the accident, specifically a previously unknown passenger -- a 25-year-old female athletic department employee.
In order to get a handle on what happened, lets go back a week. Here's a timeline of events leading up to, and following, the incident that are related to the investigation.
March 28, 2012: Petrino announces the hiring of Jessica Dorrell as Student-Athlete Development Coordinator. At the time, and by itself, the information didn't mean much. Dorrell, a former Razorbacks volleyball player, was hired to organize recruiting for the football team and assist with eligibility questions.
In hindsight, this quote from Petrino is more than a little ironic.
"Jessica Dorrell will be a great addition to our football program," said Coach Petrino. "As a former student-athlete she has an enthusiasm for the Razorbacks and is familiar with what the University of Arkansas can offer. She is extremely organized and has a professional approach, which should translate well into our program and recruiting as we continue to place an emphasis on this area."
April 1, 2012: Petrino is involved in a motorcycle accident around 6:45 p.m. local time. It was a single-vehicle crash, in which his motorcycle went off the road. Petrino was hospitalized, kept overnight and later released.
April 2, 2012: Arkansas releases a statement regarding the motorcycle accident. This is where things get a bit hairy (emphasis added).
"Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals. He is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. Our family appreciates respect for our privacy during the recovery and we are grateful for the thoughts of Razorback fans at this time."
April 3, 2012: Petrino gets back to work, sporting a neck brace. Petrino also admitted he wasn't wearing a helmet during the crash, a reminder of just how bad things could've been. On the plus side, he was able to joke about the incident.
April 5, 2012: We learn Petrino was not alone on the motorcycle and everything goes off the rails with the quickness. Petrino was accompanied on the motorcycle by Dorrell, the Student-Athlete Development Coordinator he hired just last week. Petrino is married and Dorrell is engaged, as well. Suddenly, the statement from Arkansas on Monday, in which it is asserted the accident involved no other individuals, is called into question. The police report confirms Dorrell's presence, and she gave a statement following the crash.
Later that evening, Arkansas AD Jeff Long hastily called a press conference to discuss the Petrino "situation." In a written statement -- Petrino did not attend the press conference -- the Arkansas head coach admitted a "previous inappropriate relationship."
That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell's name being revealed. In my press conference, I referred to her simply as "a lady." My concern was to protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public. In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details. Today, I've acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration.
In the speaking portion of the press gathering, Long tells the media he has placed Petrino on administrative leave with pay while he investigates the crash and relationship. Taver Johnson will assume the head coaching duties while Petrino is away.
And that just about brings us up to speed. However, considering the speed with which this story has progressed, odds are there's more to come. Long is hoping for a quick investigation, but doesn't yet know what he's looking for.
At this point, it doesn't look good for Petrino -- who apparently lied to his boss initially about the crash and his relationship with the women -- and that's before Long and the media begin looking deeper into the relationship and events surrounding the incident.
With Bobby Petrino on administrative leave from his position as Arkansas head coach, assistant head coach Taver Johnson will become the Razorbacks' acting head coach. But even college football diehards may be asking "Who is Taver Johnson?" It's understandable: Johnson had never been even a coordinator at a BCS auto-bid conference school before today.
Johnson, a 1994 graduate of Wittenberg University, has been in coaching for 19 years, and came to Arkansas from Ohio State, where he served as cornerbacks coach from 2007 to 2011. Johnson was reunited with fellow former Buckeyes coach Paul Haynes in Fayetteville; the two worked together coaching Ohio State's secondary for much of the last five years, with Johnson coaching corners and Haynes coaching safeties and serving as the Buckeyes' co-defensive coordinator.
Prior to his time at Ohio State, Johnson served as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Miami (Ohio) in 2005 and 2006 and as the RedHawks' linebackers coach from 2000 to 2003, and spent a season as the Cleveland Browns' special teams coach in 2004.
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