Prodigal Son: The Return of John L. Smith

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, April 23, 2012

It was odd today (as a long-time Michigan State football fan) to read of Arkansas' hire of John L. Smith, as their interim head football coach.  Oy, this is painful....

Do they not recall his coaching gaffe (and subsequent rant) after MSU attempted a FG to go up 20-7 in Columbus in 2005 with seconds left in the 2nd quarter, only to have it blocked and returned for a defensive TD to make it 17-14 at the half.  "The kids are playing their tails off and the coaches are screwing it up!!!"

Do they not recall the slap he gave himself after his team gave up a 16 point lead in the fourth quarter to Notre Dame in 2006?

Do they not recall that he chose to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, instead of being present at his own coaching camp, thereby alienating several potential MSU recruits? What kind of leader does that?

Do they not recall that he was hired at his alma mater, Weber State, 3.5 months ago, and just finished his first spring practice, leaving them high and dry?  Of course, you have the typical coach speak at the time of that hire at Weber State, "I have made it to big time. I truly believe that. I'm back and happy to be here. And thankful" as well as:

Our goal is to make Weber State a national champion in football. OK? We're going to spout it ... We're going to tell recruits about it (including those who signed in February?). Come here if you want to be national champ. Because that's what we're going to get done. That dream is there. That goal is there.

I guess that's true...until Arkansas calls.

Do they not recall how he was hired to MSU in the first place, where his players learned of his pending departure to Michigan State at halftime of Louisville's 38-15 loss to Marshall in the GMAC Bowl on Dec. 18, 2002?  What kind of leader does that?

And all of this is even more ridiculous in light of the recent strife between Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan and former recruit Jarrod Uthoff. In short, Uthoff, unhappy with his time spent at Wisconsin, decided he wanted to transfer, only to find himself blocked from going to a number of schools because Ryan thought he might play that team in the near future.  Coaches get a free pass to come and go, while players are at the mercy of the system.  Oy.

It makes you want to stop following sports at times.

Would you take a chance on a guy like Smith?

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