John L. Smith leaves Weber State for Arkansas

Weber State head coach John L. Smith was almost giddy when he was named the Wildcats head football coach at the end of last season. And why not? He played college football at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah, as both a linebacker and quarterback, and graduated from there in 1971.

John L. is no stranger to the Mountain West Conference. He was a head coach at Idaho (1989-1994), Utah State (1995-1997), Louisville (1998-2002) and Michigan State (2003-2006), and has had plenty of games with MWC teams. He was also a former defensive coordinator for both Nevada and Wyoming. At the end of last season, at the age of 63, Smith left Arkansas where he paced the sidelines as the Razorbacks Special Teams coach to land another head coaching job, this time at his old alma mater, Weber State.

"No. 1, I've always had a place in my heart for Weber State," Smith said last December when he accepted the postion in Ogden, Utah. "You do that naturally. That's your school, that's where you graduated from, so that fondness, that love is always with you. And again, to come back to run your own program as a head coach again is crucial for me. This hopefully can serve as an opportunity for me to give back something to the university."

Looks like John L. is all done giving back.

Never one to be humble, only 4 ½ months after his gig started at Weber State, he has once again put on roller skates and is ditching the fond old the school he once played football for. When Smith heard about Arkansas needing a temporary replacement for the disgraced Bobby Petrino, who was fired April 10, Smith was quick to reach out to his former Arkansas bosses seeking the temporary, 10-month coaching contract with the Razorbacks until they can find a suitable replacement---and leaving the Wildcats to scramble to find one for themselves.

What does that say about a head coach who abandons his players of which 18 are brand new recruits who signed with him? ESPN's Gene Wojchiechowski points out that Jarrod Uthoff for one had to jump through a dozen hoops before Big 10’s Wisconsin let him transfer to Smith’s Weber State program. And how about the new coaching staff that followed John L. to Ogden only to end up under Smith’s ever-moving bus?

The SEC and Razorback fans will be quick to defend Smith's less than honorable actions in the dog-eat-dog atmosphere of twenty-first century college athletics centered on greedy, self-serving interests. And I understand that, but it does not make it right.

The Wildcats will be just fine, even though Smith's sudden departure is leaving them in disarray. I am going by what John L. himself said recently: “Throughout the spring, the assistant coaches and student-athletes have shown incredible focus and character,” Smith said, “which we will use to build on as we work to achieve our goals for 2012.”

Which, for me, calls into question his own focus and character.
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