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Ex-Weber State coach John L. Smith's move to Arkansas draws mixed national reaction

Published: Tuesday, April 24 2012 5:46 p.m. MDT

New Arkansas head coach John L. Smith waits to be introduced at an NCAA college football news conference in Fayetteville, Ark., Tuesday, April 24, 2012.

Gareth Patterson, Associated Press

Is ex-Weber State football coach John L. Smith selfish or just smart? National writers have mixed feelings on the matter.

"My favorite moment of the John L. Smith era at Weber State — all 4 1/2 months of it — was the crock pot full of alma mater nonsense he served during his introductory news conference," ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski wrote Monday. "It was passionate. It was poignant. And as it turned out, it was crap."

Yahoo's Graham Watson, also known as Dr. Saturday, claimed that Smith was willing to do what many other coaches wouldn't -- leave a program in disarray. He wrote:

"If there's one negative about this entire move, it's that Smith bailed on Weber State leaving it with little time to find a replacement. One of the main gripes about coaches such as Garrick McGee or Gus Malzahn taking the position was what was going to happen to their current teams? It's one thing to leave your current team in the lurch for a permanent coaching position, but for a one-year stint? That's a little shady especially when it's your alma mater.

FOXsports.com's Steve Eubanks drew a parallel between Smith and the man he is replacing at Arkansas, Bobby Petrino:

The hire isn't without some controversy, though. Just as Petrino left the Atlanta Falcons for Arkansas in the middle of the night (leaving notes in players' lockers wishing them well), Smith abandoned his alma mater, Weber State, for Fayetteville without coaching a single regular-season game.

Whatever their opinions of Smith's exit from Weber State, however, many national writers felt that the hire was a good one for both Smith and Arkansas.

"By hiring (back) Smith, Long got as close to the (Bobby) Petrino influence as he could without elevating his brother, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino," CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd wrote. "Bobby had been one of Smith's assistants for seven seasons at three different stops. Smith then spent three seasons at Arkansas as Petrino's special teams and outside linebackers coach. Smith knows Arkansas."

On the other hand, Dodd's colleague Gregg Doyel had nothing but harsh words for Smith: "Arkansas did it. Arkansas hired John L. Smith. Arkansas replaced one selfish, loathsome coach with another.... A story like this, a mystifying, insulting, embarrassing, dishonorable story like this, doesn't come along all that often."

More Deseret News articles on John L. Smith:

Dec. 7, 2011: Finally back home, John L. Smith aiming for a national title

Feb. 3, 2012: John L. Smith signs first recruiting class at Weber State

April 23, 2012: Rockmonster Unplugged blog: Whats wrong about John L. Smith

April 24, 2012: Randy Hollis: One can hardly blame John L. Smith, but it is still wrong

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