Hoover, Ala. -- Does Arkansas' transition from Bobby Petrino to John L. Smith rank among the biggest exuberance upgrades in college football history? I believe it does. From shaking hands with camera guys while waiting on his introduction to asking if he could introduce his players before taking questions (he could not) to giving one poor reporter a smiling post-introduction "WHO?" Smith did everything but dazzle the assembly with yarns from his past life as a turkey farmer.
"We have a lot of pressure, because we're gonna put it on ourselves," Smith said of his loaded offense and his team's chances at competing for the national title in his 10 brief months as a Hog. "We expect to score points. We have to contribute on the other side of the ball as well."
Despite all that talent, Smith is still replacing his former boss, a proven winner at multiple programs. "The transition has been as easy as it could be," he says of returning to the school he left to take over the head job at his alma mater, Weber State. He calls his new gig a surprising opportunity, but ran low on interest in Petrino discussions at one point:
John L. Smith's deadpan response to a question: "Can we move on to a question with some intelligence." It was too deadpan. He was kidding.
"I see [Missouri] as developing into a big rivalry for us, and hopefully for Missouri," Smith said of replacing the distant South Carolina series with a border war thanks to conference realignment, a far cry from Gary Pinkel's statement that, "When the time comes, we'll be very excited about it." We'll be excited now, dammit!
In roster matters, we learned fullback Kiero Small will get a shot at linebacker and new guy Demetrius Wilson will end up playing all over the offense.
(About that 10-months thing ... Smith responded with, "Well, certainly! Do I look stupid? Wait, don't answer that," to a question about whether he'd like to coach beyond just one season. He does not look stupid.)
A brief motivational interlude was among the highlights, during which Smith urged all within the sound of his voice to work hard and not be "what if" people. All in all, Robbie Caldwellesque, and there was a small debate in our region about whether it was all standing ovation-worthy or not.