Let’s try this again.
A few days after it was reported that Arkansas Defensive Coordinator Robb Smith might be leaving the Razorbacks for Wake Forest, it’s now being reported he’s instead leaving for Minnesota to join new coach P.J. Fleck’s staff.
It is not official yet, but more sources are reporting this one, including ESPN and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. As always, until it’s official, things can still change.
We’ll just repost the rest of our story from last week’s Wake Forest report, which is just about Smith’s background at Arkansas and Bielema’s hiring and firing style.
If this does happen, it is in line with how Bret Bielema moves coaches around on his staff. I don’t know that he’s outright fired anybody since coming to Arkansas, but coaches throughout the years have mysteriously ended up at other jobs, like Jim Chaney’s move to Pittsburgh a couple of years ago.
Robb Smith started off as a hero in the Ozarks for coordinating a highly successful defense in 2014 that led the way toward Arkansas’ rebound back to consistent bowl eligibility (that defense was so great that Trent Wooldridge memorably suggested all Arkansas fans add an extra consonant to their names in tribute). Unfortunately, the defense has been highly disappointing each of the past two seasons. That disappointment was strongest in 2016 with Arkansas returning nine starters and somehow ending up worse on that side of the ball than they were in 2015.
There’s no telling who could take Smith’s place at Arkansas if this goes down. Bielema has consistently pulled off unexpected hires over the last few years, and we see little reason for this to be different. It’s possible he could promote secondary coach Paul Rhoades, and some fans have mentioned the possibility of Bielema going after his former teammate at Iowa, Bob Diaco. Diaco was the Broyles Award winner as DC at Notre Dame prior to becoming the head coach at UConn, where he was fired last month.
And of course there may be more changes. So there’s still plenty to be determined how this will shake out.