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Ex-Hog Coaches Say A.D. Long And Players Quitting Were To Blame For Bad Season

blame_game-300x239A pair of ex-Arkansas football coaches are blaming AD Jeff Long for ruining the Razorbacks’ 2012 season with his signing of John L. Smith to a 10-month contract as interim coach.  Former offensive coordinator Paul Petrino — brother of Bobby — and former defensive coordinator Paul Haynes also told The Sporting News that some members of the team quit on the coaching staff last year.

According to Petrino, the length of Smith’s contract led players to believe that the entire staff would turn over before 2013:


“I don’t think an AD should ever hire somebody for 10 months.  Players know what that means; they understand that.  It hurts the power of the head coach and the assistants.  They should’ve hired (Smith) for two years or hired someone else for two years, or just (expletive)-canned all of us.”


Haynes agreed:


“Even if they had a plan to get rid of us no matter what, which I think they did, you say two years and I think the kids dig in.  When you give 10 months, everyone is on eggshells.”


Smith himself told The Sporting News that “a little more time would’ve been nice.  Does that give you more teeth?  Yes.”

And then there was the issue of players quitting.  According to Petrino:


“There were some seniors who kind of hung it up, to be honest with you.  They were going to worry about their futures more than that team.  A couple seniors said they were hurt and I don’t know if they really were.”


Some players quit.  The AD should’ve given Smith a two-year deal.  And it’s even admitted in the piece that more than one of Smith’s assistants wanted the Arkansas head coaching job… making things tougher on Smith.  Bad, bad, bad.

But now let’s step away from the “Ah, ha!” part of this story.  Away from the splashy “Players Quit” headline.  Let’s focus instead on Arkansas’ actual situation.

Even if the Razorbacks had been better in 2012, is there anyone out there who truly believes Arkansas had the talent on both offense and defense to compete with Alabama for the SEC title?  You people with plastic pigs on your head can put your hands down.

If, then, the Hogs had won eight to 10 games last season under Smith, would Razorback fans be happy to welcome him back for Year Two of his interim stint?  Would the national media be any less harsh toward the off-the-wall coach?  Probably not.  And wouldn’t the team be facing this year exactly what the coaches say it faced last year — a bunch of players quitting because their coach’s interim gig is nearing its expiration date?

You can question a lot of things about Arkansas’ failed season but Long’s decision to go the interim route isn’t one of them.  Petrino forced the AD to fire him in April.  Any AD would have done the same.  And in April, you don’t just grab big name football coaches.

Knowing that, Long bit the bullet on an interim coach and it happened to blow up in his face in 2012.  But by year’s end he’d made arguably the best hire of a new coach in the country.

Better to have Smith back for a second year or Bret Bielema arriving to get things back on track?  Obviously there’s no guarantee that Bielema will succeed in Fayetteville, but this writer believes there’s more reason for hope moving forward under the new guy than there would have been had the old guy and his staff been left in place for yet another season.

Now, if you still want to blame someone for Arkansas’ disastrous 2012 you can skip Long.  Leave Smith alone, too.  And don’t point the finger at the assistants or the players.  Bobby Petrino tanked the Razorbacks’ seasons.  If you’ve got to blame someone, blame the guy who set everything else in motion.



I think you missed the assistant coaches point. I agree a year later having Bielema as your coach is a win for Arkansas, and he should lead Arkansas in the right direction. The coches were making the point you hire a head coach for 10 months, and you are telling everyone (players and assistant coaches) this guy is gone at the end of his contract. Players and assistant coaches had no insentive to perform.


I think the coaches are trying to say, they should have signed the head coach to a multiple season contract. It gives the head coach a little more clout to discipline players and coaches. Sure Arkansas would be paying a couple hundred thousand dollars in coaching contract buyouts, but I am sure that Arkansas would gladly pay the million in buyouts. Instead Arkansas had a disaster of a season, and may have set them back a couple of years. They were knocking on the door of the SEC West, now I see it being a couple years away.


I love this site, and visit daily.



John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Thanks for visiting and for the kind words.  


I understood what the coaches were saying, but I disagreed with their view.  I don't recall anyone ever being hired as a multi-year interim on the front end.  Guys have turned interim jobs into full-time jobs, but I've never heard of someone being handed a 22-month contract.


Ohio State did the same thing when Jim Tressel crashed and burned.  They slumped in the interim year and then went unbeaten this season.  Time-wise, situation-wise, I think Long made the right call.


But that's just a difference of opinion.


Thanks again for reading the site,





There is a reason most schools have morality clauses in contracts. Napoleon's edict of, "There are no bad regiments, only bad regimental commanders," has stood the test of time because it is true. Patrino's behavior caused the dominos to fall. Blaming this on players, btw, shows Bobby also needs to realize there is a reason we use the word "lead" as a descriptor in the job description. If the seniors gave up, there was a reason for it. Seniors lead the rest of the team, but they have to be given an environment to do that in. Coaches are responsible for establishing that environment. All the coaches. 


The players and fans at Arkansas got a bad break this year. It would have been tough for any team to over come what they had to deal with, but gotta say trying to put the blame on students who have demonstrated an ability to play well when properly led sort of borders on cowardice. Maybe too harsh a word, but you get the idea.


Thanks, John. I feel for Paul Petrino and Coach Haynes, but you are absolutely right.


Agree. Bobby Petrino is really to blame.


I still can't believe there was not someone on that staff who could have been interim coach.  I think that would have been a better path.  Doubtful anyone will ever do another 10 month contract for a HC.


If you watched the players going from the bus to Razorback stadium, you saw that they weren't motivated.  Only a few showed the enthusiasm they should have(and normally would have) had.  They were defeated before they ever got into the stadium.  Based on what I saw, Coach Smith's assessment of "quit" is accurate.


Paul Petrino was the biggest disappointment for me.  Only a moron would be ahead by 28 points (against ULM) and run pass plays ( mostly incomplete), giving them enough time to tie the game with a minute left.


Bobby is definitely to blame for the whole mess.  Maybe in a couple of years under Coah Bielama we'll be thanking Bobby for being a sleeze.


I also think Long's decision was the best one under the circumstances.  I'd rather have one season of bad and be done.  Look what we've got to look forward to now.  GO HOGS!!!


Theres no way Smith should have been given a contract longer than what he got, he seemed to be a nice guy although a little odd at times but it was a stop  gap hire and their were no other options so late in the spring to hire a quality head coach long turned into a dumpster fire of a season without a doubt, but it was the only choice at the time...If some of the players "shut it down" mid season, shame on them and with that attitude the football futures are most likely will see very little sucsess!  As far as a few coaches wanting the HC job, thats crazy no one on the staff had the expierence to be hired to run the program period...The hogs will struggle in the sec west for  sure, but with the facilities/money available their not about to hire an unproven co-ord/asst to take things over!


 @badbadhoggieI can truthfully see why a lot of players would shirk in this situation.  It really isn't a shame on them, but a shame on the situation.  Think about it this way, if you are a pocket passer quarterback and you have no idea who your coach will be in a year, then there is a big incentive to shirk.  Even if you do good, the new coach may want to run a spread offense, then you are kind of screwed anyways and need to transfer. (Arkansas benefited from this situation first hand when RR came to Michigan).  Having an uncertaintity about your head coach is defitnatley an incentive for players to shirk. 



Dead on.  Is there anyone in the country who would have followed Petrino's departure in April and succeeded?  Saban went 7-6 his first year at Alabama and was able to get a spring practice in first.  2012 was to be a lost year, no matter how you slice it.  Now AK has hired a top-flight coach and is looking to the future.  Anyone who would wish to argue with the outcome is living in a dream world.



    Ex-Hog Coaches Say A.D. Long And Players Quitting Were To Blame For Bad Season – | SEC Football News | SEC Basketball News | SEC Football Recruiting | SEC Basketball Recruiting

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