Fare Thee Well, John L.

Wesley Hitt

The JLS era at Arkansas is over. If only we could say "we hardly knew ye."

When Bobby Petrino was fired in April, he left behind a preseason top-10 team, a fairly loaded offense, and a defense which appeared to be heading in the right direction after 4 years of Willy Robinson ("appeared" being the operative word). Several pundits picked Arkansas as legit contenders for the national championship, including Skip Bayless and Beano Cook (RIP). What we needed was a "CEO" type who could handle the "face of the program" duties and let the coordinator and position coaches coordinate and position coach, respectively. What we got was JLS.

You were potentially going to make history, John L. And you did, just not in the way you had hoped. Not that it was all your fault, per se. An astounding number of injuries to key players (Tyler Wilson, Chris Gragg, Tank Wright, Alonzo Highsmith, starting fullback Kiero Small and his backup Kody Walker, Tevin Mitchell, etc.) didn't help, nor did a secondary that, as Desmond Howard put it, "couldn't cover a receiver if they had a blanket and the receiver fell down." While that characterization certainly stings, it's hard to argue that it's not true.

It's easy to pile all the blame on you as the figurehead. Not that you don't deserve any, but we have to remember our original rhetoric for hiring you: "we need to keep the staff together and let the coaches do their jobs." Paul Petrino's playcalling has been suspect all year. I still can't get my head around how our defense was that bad, especially after the 2012 Cotton Bowl performance. There are legitimate arguments about Petrino's neglect of defensive recruiting - but given all the young, raw talent on that side of the ball, we should have at least had a defense ranked in the 50s, not the 91st-ranked scoring defense (as of Nov. 24th).

Your penchant for wacky antics certainly lived up to its reputation. You already had quite the portfolio from your days at Michigan State (here and here), and between "we're Alabama", "SMILE!", and whatever other goofy things you've done since April, you've certainly updated your repertoire. Which will be your legacy - eccentric behavior or the 2012 Arkansas dumpster fire? Only time will tell.

So, goodbye, John L. You tried, I guess. Razorback Nation has been fixated on who our next coach will be since Sept. 8, and while you technically still have 2 months left on your contract, I think we're all just ready to move on.

I wish you luck in your future endeavors. Here's some parting advice: Don't take any wooden nickels, or Kentucky land deals.

UPDATE: JLS has been officially "reassigned" until his contract runs out on Feb. 23, 2013.

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