Arkansas' Smith optimistic about coaching future
BY KURT VOIGT Associated Press
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11/13/12 at 5:35 AM
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - John L. Smith hasn't given up hope of returning as Arkansas' coach quite yet.
The interim coach also said Monday, two days after a 38-20 loss to South Carolina, that he's not concerned about the ongoing coaching search by athletic director Jeff Long.
The Razorbacks (4-6, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) started the season ranked in the top 10, but they are now on the brink of missing a bowl game. Arkansas must win its final two games to earn bowl eligibility for a fourth straight season, beginning this week at Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3) before closing out the regular season at home against No. 8 LSU.
"I'm the most optimistic guy you could imagine," Smith said. "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."
Smith was hired to replace the ousted Bobby Petrino in April, just weeks after the scandal that erupted following Petrino's April 1 motorcycle accident that involved his mistress.
The former Michigan State and Louisville coach was signed to a 10-month contract, and Long said last month that Smith was still a candidate to remain with the Razorbacks - even after an early four-game losing streak crushed Arkansas' preseason championship hopes.
Smith, however, is still holding out hope. He also said he's not about to start reflecting on his 40-year coaching career - or the likely finality of his coaching career at Arkansas - with two games remaining.
"No. That's way over my head, mentally," Smith said. "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 to the practice field, because that's the best part of my day and being around those guys is what it's all about."
The Razorbacks were 21-5 the last two seasons under Petrino, but injuries and the post-Petrino turmoil have proved too much to overcome this season. They are last in the SEC in pass defense, allowing 291.1 yards per game, and Smith has been unable to live up to his preseason talk of competing for a national championship.
Making matters worse, and much more personal, Smith filed for bankruptcy in September -revealing $40.7 million in debt following land deals gone wrong in Kentucky.
At Mississippi State
11:21 a.m. Saturday