When we're not discussing Casey Dick's wedding or Reggie Fish's music career, we occasionally like to discuss actual football stuff. While we may not have the latest word on zone blitz packages or the role of the slot receiver on 3rd & long, we'll do our best to answer some of the key preseason questions as part of this ongoing series.
Today's question: What's the John L. Smith factor?
Last night ESPN Classic showed the 2006 Michigan State / Notre Dame game. I had it on just to have some football noise coming out of the tv here in July. If you remember the game, John L. Smith and company managed to choke things away in rather epic fashion. Or if you are a Notre Dame fan, you recall it as the Fighting Irish's great comeback.
The relevance here is that John L. Smith is now going to be on our sideline. Petrino hired his old mentor to shore up special teams, which we all know needs it in a big way, and probably to be something of a sounding board / conselori. The part of me that thinks twice about crossing the path of a black cat, that part of me is a bit worried about John L. Smith. The more rational side says it will be great to have his experience and knowledge of the game there on the sidelines.
And surely there are things that the eyes of a former head coach can spot that Petrino might not have time to notice himself. So what do you think about the John L. Smith factor? A good addition? Or a jinxed Yankee?
Here are some wikipedia related facts to chew on.
GOOD: He is adventurous and probably has good stories to share in the locker room. He has climbed Mt. Kilmanjaro, ran with the bulls in Spain, and skydived over Indiana. We want fearless players right?
BAD: Told his Louisville team at halftime of their bowl that he was changing jobs to go to Michigan State. Predictably, they lost their bowl game. How important is timing to special teams?
GOOD: Sports Illustrated recognized him as one of Idaho's top 100 athletes of the 20th century, and he was placed in the Idaho Sports Hall of Fame. Well, that sounds good. But Idaho? How hard was the competition? How many potatoes were in the running?
BAD: 22-26 for his four years at Michigan State. That doesn't scream "Winner!" Doesn't even whisper it.
GOOD: Was an assistant under Dennis Erickson for seven years. He had to have learned something during those years, one would think.
BAD: A graduate of that football powerhouse known as Weber State. Cough, cough.
GOOD: Led Louisville to an 11-2 record in 2001 with a Liberty Bowl win.
BAD: Used Drew Stanton, Michigan State's future at qb, in the Alamo bowl on special teams and got him hurt. Keep John L. away from Ryan Mallett!
GOOD: How about we end on a good one? While at Michigan State, he coached the Spartans to a victory over Northwestern (41-38) after being down 38-3 in the middle of the third quarter. It is the biggest comeback in NCAA history.
Finally, can any of the well versed Hog historians out there think of another time when a former head coach of a BCS conference school has come to Arkansas to be an assistant? John L. Smith, I think, is breaking new ground here. But if in the process, he resurrects our special teams, then I'll be happy not only to cross his path without thinking, but to shake his hand.