Arkansas coach John L. Smith at SEC Media Days
John L. Smith has never been less than an engaging personality in front of the media, his turn at the podium Wednesday at SEC media days was no exception.
John L. Smith might be working under the shortest contract of any FBS head coach, since that contract doesn't even extend past this season. But that doesn't mean he's planning on going gently into that good night once that season is over.
"Well, certainly. Do I look stupid?" he responded when asked if he'd like to coach Arkansas past the 2012 campaign, before following up with "Don't answer that question."
But Smith did acknowledge that nothing was guaranteed beyond this year.
Smith was highly animated and candid in his time at the podium, as he has been since his time as head coach at Louisville and Michigan State. Here's the rest of the highlights:
On the pressure of coaching under a one season contract: "I've never been a big believer that the outside pressure has anything we can control. You have to be like a duck and let that water roll off your back. As coaches we all put pressure on ourselves. That pressure comes from within, within those doors, staff meetings, in what we expect to get done."
On whether the offense can carry the defense: "Three offensive players as good as there is in the country, we should be good on offense. We totally expect that to happen ... we expect to score points. We expect to be good offensively. We have to contribute on the other side of the ball, as well. For us to do our job over there is going to make us a championship football team.
"It's not always, and particularly in this league, the old adage of first one to 49 wins, doesn't work in this league. We're going to have to be one of those teams that plays defense or we're not going to stand a chance."
On coaching from a "nothing to lose" standpoint: "I guess there's something in there that says life is an adventure and let's make sure we take advantage of that adventure and don't miss anything. I keep looking back in my history. My granddad came to this country when he was a kid of 12 years old. His folks put him on a boat and said, Go to America. What kind of an adventure is that? Maybe it comes from that. I don't know.
"But I've never been one to turn away from an open door, an adventure to go do something. I think life is that like that. That's one thing as a coach you'd like to portray and get your kids to understand, is that, gosh, you're only here a short period of time. Take advantage. Don't ever look back that I didn't play as hard as I can play in this game, that I missed something that I should have not missed. Don't ever be a person in life, and I'd like the kids to go out not thinking, Gosh, what if. What if I'd worked a little harder, done this a little better.
"That's one thing I try to portray to the kids, is don't be that guy. Take advantage of everything you're given in this life and let's go full bore ahead."
On whether Arkansas had contacted him before Bobby Petrino was dismissed: "Could we move on to the next question, at least one with intelligence? No, you didn't get that, did you?
"No, to my knowledge, we did not have any interaction till after Bobby was gone. That had all taken place prior to any of that. The actual who reached out to who, all of that stuff, it started with -- I'm going to be perfectly honest with you -- my talking with the coaches and vice versa. That's where it came from. And then I reached out."
On the difficulty of recruiting in his situation: "It goes back to this. We're a big believer that we have to do everything we can do to get the players in the state of Arkansas to stay in the state of Arkansas. We made a big, big push to try to make sure that happens. Then those players have to lead us from there.
"So in saying that, OK, and this is what I really believe, there is no other coach that can guarantee he's going to be there next year as well. If they want you out the door, you're going to be out the door, regardless of who you are. That being number one. The other thing coming back to what we are trying to sell, what we are selling at the University of Arkansas. You're not committing to an individual. If you're committing to an individual, then you're doing it for the wrong reason. You better be committing to a school, you better be committing to a program, you better be committing to what that program represents and wants to get done.
"That's the way you want to try to sell it. If you want to commit to an individual, go commit to an individual, but that's not what you're doing here. That's the way we work it. And I believe that regardless."
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