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Otis and I are at the Miller Room for John L. Smith's press conference, which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Central. There are about 15 TV cameras here in addition to local, state and national reporters. I'll be posting live updates in this thread.
Knile Davis, Tyler Wilson, Cobi Hamilton, Alonzo Highsmith and Zach Hocker just walked in.
As someone just pointed out, we've already seen the first difference between John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino. Petrino was never late!
And here comes Jeff Long and John L.
Jeff Long leading if off ...
Long says timing and circumstances made for challenges, but feels like he has the right man for the upcoming season and to help shape the long-term future. "There's no question in my mind this was the best decision for this team for the 2012 season," Long said.
Long says the past few weeks have reinforced his opinion that the football program remains strong. Said this move will allow him the right amount of time to search for the right kind of candidate for one of the country's premier positions.
Said John L. shared his passion for Razorback football with him and Long is citing Long's experience as the reason for this decision. Said John L. is one of only 19 coaches to take three different programs to bowl games.
And here's John L., sporting some nice Ostrich skin boots. Says he's "very, very excited to be here."
He's thanking the administration for allowing him to come back, and thanks his wife. He said he told his wife, "this decision's yours." She then explained the pros of the job and said "this might be the only chance you have left. She said YOU'RE GOING BACK!"
John L. thanks the assistants and support staff for holding everything together and also thanks the fans, "the Razorback Nation for the support that you've shown during this time as well to hold this together."
Thanks the Weber State AD for the opportunity he had there. "Nobody could have forseen this happening," Smith said. He added that he has a "heavy investment here" and that this was "a decision I had to make."
Said the relationship he has with he staff, fans and players, "hoepfully I can amke a difference and we can fight through this and do what we have to do to get through the adversity."
"Our expecations here are the same. We're not going to slow down. In fact, we're going to speed up."
He said the Hogs will continue to fight for a national title. John L. being very passionate right now.
"What a neat deal. 45,000 for the spring game just shows the attitude, the resilience of the Razorbacks out there and let's just all lock arms and forge ahead and go win a championship."
John L. says, "no clapping, OK?" and opens it for questions.
John L. tells Chris Bahn: "You know the rules, right? No stupid questions."
Bahn asks John L. about his interaction with BP, and Long says there's been none in the last two weeks.
John L. having a lot of fun with the media. Tells Aaron Peters he's looking fat.
Peters asks how he won't rock the boat: John L. said he's always let his coordinators coordinate. "That's just the way I have been. I see my role as a mentor, as an advisor, as someone to say I don't think that's going to work, or I think that's real good."
Jokes that Steve Caldwell has goofed up the special teams since he left.
Says "We have good coaches, great coaches, and I'm not going to goof them up, I hope."
Asks if he wants the job permanently. He said "we'll have to wait and see." Says there's never anything guaranteed down the road in the coaching business.
John L. says his philosophy is: If there's a door open, walk through it. If there's a window open, jump out of it. He's referring to his sky-diving and mountain climbing.
John L. said this is one of the toughest decisions he's ever had to make. Said the Weber State AD said he understood why he left, and so did the few players he met with.
His approach to recruiting: First thing is to sell the institution. Said that hasn't changed. From there, sell program and lastly sell yourself as coaches.
Asked about the perception that the football progrma thinks it's bigger than the university. Says he doesn't know where that perception came from, but said "we're different, we're approachable ... .we're accessible, and we're going to take ourselves to the people."
Said he did not own a house here. Repeats that having to leave Weber a very, very hard decision.
He jokes that Long told him "I don't want to speak to you. I really don't care what you have to say."
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