On Friday, John L. Smith will almost certainly coach his final game as head coach at the University of Arkansas.
John L. Smith expects to find out his fate at Arkansas shortly after the LSU game though he isn't expected to return.
Even though no official statement has been released or confirmed by anyone at Arkansas it's a foregone conclusion this will be Smith's final game. He came in under some very tough circumstances and what has happened isn't all his fault, but the numbers read 4-7 for a team picked by some to contend for the national championship. Instead, the team won't even go to a minor bowl game.
Those are things that don't get interim changed to permanent head coach anywhere. An emotional Smith had his weekly press conference on Monday. Smith was asked about the LSU game being his last game at Arkansas.
“That is a possibility,” Smith said. “My thoughts are, 'Boy I would sure like to go out with a win.' The biggest thing is those guys that don't get to wear it again.”
Smith expects to talk to Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long sometime after the LSU game about his status moving forward.
“We have not (talked yet),” Smith said of any conversation with Long about his future. “John Fagg, who oversees football, we meet weekly and go over everything we are doing recruiting wise and we will continue to do all those things. The commits we have.
“So there's a direct line to Jeff through John, but we have not spoken and don't expect to until after the game is over. We will go from there. We'll continue to work next week, that's what we're going to do. So whenever that decision is going to be made we're going to leave everything here the very best we can. We will bust our tail until that day comes about.”
In addition to Arkansas, Smith has been a head coach at Michigan State, Louisville, Idaho and Utah State. He came to Arkansas from Weber State where he was the head coach, but he left there for Arkansas before coaching a down. He hopes to stay in coaching beyond this year.
“You know yes, I would be lying if I said no,” Smith said. “As long as my health is good I just love being around the guys. I try to be any help that I can be and do what I can do. I think that is what keeps you young.”
Regardless of if this is his final game at Arkansas, Smith is grateful to Long for the opportunity to coach the Razorbacks.
“I'm very thankful for this,” Smith said. “I'm thankful for the opportunity to come back. I'm grateful for the opportunity. These guys thought enough of me to say 'that's the guy we would like back' if you know what I mean. So that, I take personal pride in that.
“It has not worked like I would have liked to come back and give them more wins. I'm regretful because I would have like to give them more wins, but you try to give what you can. You do all you can, prepare them the best you can and hopefully we've been a positive influence on their lives. That's the best you can do.”
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said he has a lot of respect for Smith and would like to get him a win against LSU.
“He was here my redshirt freshman year,” Wilson said. “All the way until now we've been together. He has meant a lot. You build those friendships and relationships that will last forever. He has always got a smile whether he's feeling it deep down in there that's the way he expresses himself. It touches everybody. It says make it a good day because you get to make you day whatever you want to make of it.”