John L. Smith just keeps on smiling. His team is 4-6 and just 2-4 in the SEC, but Smith continues to look on the bright side of life (NSFW). The man thrown into an unwinnable situation — made so because most believed the Arkansas situation was way too winnable — isn’t thinking about the end of his tenure as the Razorbacks’ interim coach. He’s still trying to be optimistic.
According to the Associated Press, Smith said the following during a press gathering yesterday:
“I’m the most optimistic guy you could imagine. So, I’m always optimistic. I’m optimistic on us going to Starkville and getting a win this weekend. The other stuff can take care of itself. I’m not overly worried about any of that…
That’s way over my head, mentally (to reflect on his coaching career). I have trouble just concentrating on today and this part of our season and where we are. I’m going to love every day that we go do the practice field, because that’s the best part of my day and being around those guys is what it’s all about. And thank God I’ve had the opportunity to do that.
I’m just knocking on wood, stretch it as far as we want or as far as we can.”
Players like quarterback Tyler Wilson and kicker Zach Hocker still speak highly of Smith and they should. While many Hog fans have blamed him for their team’s collapse, the real culprit is Bobby Petrino, the sunshiney Smith. It should be clear in Arkansas today — just as it was clear in Louisville after he left there — that the secret to Petrino’s winning programs isn’t great recruiting classes, great assistants, or great defense… it’s Petrino himself.
But when he forced the school to oust him — and there was no way AD Jeff Long could not fire Petrino after he rushed the hiring of his mistress through the athletic department and opened UA up to potential lawsuits — the coach destroyed the Razorbacks’ season. Whoever took over was going to fail.
Unfortunately, positivity like Smith’s reigned across the Natural State and across the nation. Arkansas’ expectations didn’t drop a lick when they should have dropped a lot.
Could another interim have done a better job with the talent on hand? Probably. But there’s not another interim Arkansas could have brought in who could have led the Hogs toward the upper part of the BCS standings as was hoped/expected. Petrino is just that good of coach. Which made his self-destruction all the worse for UA’s football season.