John L. Smith is back with his family -- his family tree in the coaching business. Smith was hired Friday to become special teams coordinator at Arkansas under Bobby Petrino.
This is the fourth time Petrino and Smith have worked together. The previous three Petrino was the assistant and Smith the head coach.
Smith was announced after a visit to Fayetteville earlier this week -- a week that started with cornerbacks coach Lorenzo Ward leaving for a similar job at South Carolina. Smith will help with the UA defense, but the position hasn't been determined just yet.
"I'm excited," Smith said on a late-afternoon teleconference with the Arkansas media. "I'm fired up to be coming over to Arkansas and become a Razorback. As long as you're in the coaching profession, you have different arms out there of your family and I get to come back and be rejoined with a part of my family and guys I've grown up with and have grown up with me. And I'm excited about it."
How did the job come up?
"It was really kind of sudden," Smith said. "To be honest with you, I think Bobby didn't realize that I was wanting to get back in and entertain the thought of getting back into that position. And it happened just in the last few days. I mean, I let him know that I was willing to get back in and he said, ‘Well, I happen to have a spot and let's consider it.'
"It happened very quickly, but that's usually how things happen in coaching and athletics."
Why back in coaching now? After being let go two years ago as head coach at Michigan State, Smith has worked in advance scouting with the St. Louis Rams.
"This year, I was doing the talk show in the mornings," he said. "I was really kind of away from football, and it didn't take me very long to realize that — you know what — I really miss the kids. I miss being around the kids. I miss the commoradie of the coaches. I miss the interaction with those kids daily and all the things that you do. ... I just got that hunger again, and I said, ‘Boy, I've got to get back to work.'
"We've grown with each other, so it's not like we're off base a lot on philosophy. We've already talked about some different things, some things we'd like to do on punt."
Smith said he's gone over some basics of special teams with Petrino. They've talked about things on punt return, kickoff and kickoff coverage.
They are excited to get after it.
"I think our philosophies mesh and I think you'll see us do some more exciting things," he said. "I think the thing about special teams is his philosphy, again like mine, we have to gain a possession here or there and possibly win a game. Because one big play there can be the biggest play in the football game."
What about defensive thoughts between Smith and Petrino?
"What he wants us all to do on the defensive side of the ball and what he wants me to do on the defensive side of the ball as far as the position, that has yet to be determined," Smith said. "But I'm a good soldier and wherever he wants me to coach, that's what I'll do."
Alex Abrams of the Morning News contributed to this story.
Smith: UA Job 'Sudden'
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