John L. Smith’s time at Arkansas likely ends with yet another awful coaching decision

Dr. Saturday

What is it with coaches being conservative this week? Jim Schwartz settles for a 47-yard field goal in overtime on third down and the Detroit Lions end up losing. Kirk Ferentz does everything but go to victory formation in the second quarter against Nebraska, and Iowa loses.

Oh, and then there's John L. Smith. He refused to let anyone top his conservative decision making.

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Arkansas has had a truly awful season. The Razorbacks were 4-7 coming into a season-ending game against LSU. They had nothing to lose.

[Related: LSU's Jarvis Landry makes college football's catch of the year]

And yet, with fourth and goal at the half-yard line and a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Smith sent the field-goal unit on for a 17-yard field goal.

That is not a typo: He went for a 17-yard field goal. In a game that Arkansas trailed by 7 points against a top 10 LSU team. In what is almost definitely his final game as Arkansas coach, Smith went for a field goal when the ball was at the half-yard line when the Razorbacks had nothing to lose.

That's inconceivably conservative. That's not staying on 8 while playing blackjack, that's folding pocket aces in poker before the flop to avoid a bad beat.

And it turned out as you'd expect. Arkansas hit the field goal. LSU later hit a field goal. Had Arkansas scored a touchdown on that fourth and goal, instead of the absolutely incorrect decision to settle for the field goal, the score would have been 20-17. Instead, the Razorbacks trailed 20-13. They moved to the LSU 18-yard line in the final seconds, but couldn't go for the game-tying field goal they should have been attempting. Instead, Tyler Wilson threw an incomplete pass into the end zone.

About the only good news is Arkansas' season is over. And so too, presumably, is the John L. Smith era.

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