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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Thomas’

No. 19: Arkansas

Forget what you think you know about John L. Smith, because to Arkansas, all that mattered was this: he was experienced, he was familiar with the roster, he was familiar with the program’s returning staff and he was available. Oh, and he was available to rent, not to buy; Smith is being leased by the university, which needed a solution but wasn’t yet in the market for a permanent replacement for Bobby Petrino, once the savior, now the no-good ex-flame. Smith, the former Arkansas assistant who left Fayetteville after last season to take the head coaching job at Weber State, signed a 10-month, $850,000 contract with the school, which can choose to take a new plunge into the coaching pool in December or January, depending on when Smith’s one-year turn with the Razorbacks ends — or the Razorbacks and athletic director Jeff Long can opt to alter the terms of Smith’s contract, buying in rather than renting. What would Smith need to do in order to become Petrino’s replacement? What many thought Arkansas would do before Petrino sped out of favor: take the fight to L.S.U. and Alabama.

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    No. 13: Arkansas

    There’s so much star power in the SEC West that it’s easy to forget about Arkansas, which has only been playing top-level college football since, oh, 1959 or so. Perhaps not tasting Alabama-like success or even L.S.U.-like success – definitely not over the last decade, at least – but certainly not anything less than extremely good: one national title, back in 1964, more than 10 double-digit win seasons, nearly a dozen conference banners and so on. Arkansas has never lacked for support for its football team, both spiritually and financially, nor have the Razorbacks ever given the fan base any reason to doubt that winning is not the be-all-end-all in Fayetteville. Arkansas is much like the rest of the SEC, in short. And that’s why it was with much anticipation – and with some fear from the rest of the conference – that Bobby Petrino took charge in 2008: Arkansas has the resources to win big, and now has the coach to take it there.

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      The Countdown

      A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.