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John L. Smith named head coach at Arkansas

Pat Forde
Yahoo Sports

Arkansas has named John L. Smith as its next football coach, Yahoo! Sports has confirmed.

The former head coach at Weber State, Michigan State, Louisville, Utah State and Idaho will be announced as coach of the Razorbacks on Monday afternoon, sources told Yahoo! Sports. Smith was an assistant to Bobby Petrino the past two years at Arkansas and will keep the same staff together to enhance continuity.

The Associated Press first reported Smith would be the new Arkansas coach.

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John L. Smith was an assistant to Bobby Petrino for two years. (US Presswire)

Heavy speculation over the last 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 was given a 10-month contract and a long-term search is expected after this season, according to sources.

Smith had just taken the Weber State job this spring, but for several reasons is a good fit at Arkansas. Most importantly he will maintain continuity with the staff and has complete knowledge of the current offensive and defensive schemes being used by the Razorbacks. Bobby Petrino and his brother, Paul, now the offensive coordinator at Arkansas, both worked for Smith at Louisville.

Smith has experience dealing with the media and public as a head coach, whereas the current Arkansas coordinators did not. This frees them to do their jobs without having to take on additional duties they are unfamiliar with.

Smith has not been a head coach since 2006, when he was forced out at Michigan State after four unsuccessful seasons. Prior to that he elevated Louisville into a consistent winner and had success in the Rocky Mountains with Utah State and Idaho. His career head-coaching record is 132-86.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long fired Petrino on April 10, saying the successful coach "engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff" following a motorcycle accident earlier in the month. Petrino hired his mistress, Jessica Dorrell, to a position within the football program and gave her a $20,000 gift. He did not disclose to Arkansas officials that Dorrell was with him when he had the accident.

Coming off an 11-2 season and a Cotton Bowl triumph, Arkansas was expected to begin the 2012 season in the national top 10 before the Petrino firing. Even without the offensive mastermind in charge, the Razorbacks are loaded with talent and have a favorable schedule, with SEC West rivals LSU and Alabama both traveling to Arkansas this season.

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