Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

October 17, 2012

AD Long in 'research' phase in new Arkansas coaching search

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long wants a football coach with "discipline and accountability.'' Someone with "honesty and integrity on and off the field.''

And he would like that coach in place within two weeks of the end of the regular season, which wraps up Nov. 23 when No. 6 LSU visits Fayetteville. Will that person be John L. Smith, the interim coach whose team is 3-4 and is getting headlines for his $40.7 million personal bankruptcy?

Long reiterated Monday that Smith, despite his 10-month contract, is a candidate for the job but said it would be apparent at the end of the season whether Smith is his choice for the future. And he said the program is in better shape than it might have been after the firing of coach Bobby Petrino in April and a 1-4 start that ruined any hopes for a run at an SEC or even national title.

"Not one player left our program,'' Long said. "I think they believe in the program that we're running.''

Long hired Smith as interim coach for $850,000 to handle the team for the season, even though Smith is going through a $40.7 million personal bankruptcy over land deals that collapsed in Kentucky. Addressing the Touchdown Club in Little Rock, Long told an audience of Razorback fans that he wouldn't discuss coaching candidates but he did lay out some of the elements that will go into the search.

First, Long said he wants to quickly sift through any coaches who are trying to leverage for a raise at their existing schools and that he's looking for a leader who wants to build a national champion and not be intimidated by competing in the Southeastern Conference.

Long said the football program has facilities that will attract top coaches and top athletes, including plans to add a special academic facility for players. Practice and training facilities are being tied together to enable coaches to more efficiently use the practice time allowed by the NCAA.

The Razorbacks have put together a two-game winning streak, beating Auburn and Kentucky, not exactly SEC powers. But Long said the players have adapted to the change not only at head coach but to a new system of assistant coaches as well.

"I think we've seen in the last couple weeks a program that's starting to get better,'' Long said.

Speaking with reporters after his talk, Long said Smith's bankruptcy hasn't been a distraction to the players and that he's unconcerned that Smith has had to devote time to untangling his finances. Smith was in a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday, the day before the Kentucky game.

He added that the university structured deferred payments to Smith as it has done with other coaches and that the salary terms had nothing to do with Smith's bankruptcy, which Long said Smith told him may be coming when he interviewed for the job. Petrino was fired after Long learned he had hired his former mistress as a recruiting coordinator and lied about her presence at a motorcycle accident.

Arkansas is off this weekend and next plays Ole Miss in Little Rock on Oct. 27.

Long said the next coach needs to be ready to lift Arkansas to elite status.

"We're going to stand our ground and then we're going to work to get back to where we all know we should be, and that's at the top,'' Long said.

He noted that expectations were high at the start of the season, when the Razorbacks were ranked No. 8.

"Maybe we weren't as good as we thought we were. But now we've kind of refocused ourselves. We're starting to play like we expected to play,'' Long said.

Long didn't mention it but the Razorbacks, were stung by injuries to key players early in the season, including a head injury suffered by starting quarterback Tyler Wilson, who was knocked out of the second half of an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe and missed the next week's drubbing by No. 1 Alabama.

"Certainly we're not where we expected to be when we started this season. But we're not folding up our tent,'' Long said. "We stood and we turned this negative into a positive.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0014web.jpg 9 straight for Lady Zebras

    Claremore sophomore forward Bailey Steckline got the ‘hat-trick’ plus one Tuesday night in the Lady Zebras’ 10-0 win over Tulsa Memorial at  LaFortune Stadium.
    Steckline tallied two goals in the first half, and added two more in the second to complete her impressive night.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0156web.jpg Tulsa Memorial holds off Zebras, 2-1

    Tulsa Memorial scored a pair of first-half goals  to steal the momentum away from the Claremore Zebras, as well as the 2-1 win Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference action at LaFortune Stadium.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0015web.jpg BASEBALL: Whatley, Howe power Zebras past Tahlequah

    Claremore’s Matt Whatley has proven over the past four years that he’s one of the toughest outs in the Metro Lakes Conference.
    On Tuesday, Whatley went 3-for-4 with two singles and a triple while sparking the Zebras to a 12-2 win over Tahlequah in five innings at American Legion Park.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • BASEBALL: Dewey takes pair from Sequoyah

    It’s very difficult to win when you can’t score.
    Class 4A third-ranked Dewey blanked homestanding Sequoyah 7-0 and 2-0 in a district doubleheader on Tuesday, improving to 21-3 with a dominating two-hit pitching performance in the opener and a four-hitter in the nightcap.

    April 18, 2014

  • SOCCER: Sequoyah topples No. 15 Catoosa, 1-0

    Sequoyah boys soccer coach Bob Campbell had one phrase to sum up his feelings following the Eagles’ game with 15th ranked Catoosa at home Tuesday night.
    “We’re in the driver’s seat.’’
    Alex Bourgeois scored late in the first half and Sequoyah made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over the Indians in a showdown for the district lead.

    April 18, 2014

  • Jackson sprints Zebras to 1st place at OBU Relays

    Claremore senior sprinter Tyler Jackson felt the need for speed Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma Baptist University High School Invitational.
    Jackson notched a pair of first-place victories in the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash to help Claremore earn 130 points for top honors.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Arkansas Tech roughs up ‘Cats

    The Rogers State University baseball team had a disappointing finish in its home finale as No. 12-ranked Arkansas Tech blanked the Hillcats 11-0 Tuesday evening in non-conference action from the Diamond Sports Complex.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Southwest Baptist slips past NSU, 5-3

     The Northeastern State baseball team lost 5-3 to Southwest Baptist Thursday afternoon at Dobson Field.
     
    The RiverHawks (19-22, 15-18 MIAA) held a 3-0 lead early in the contest, but a late rally from the Bearcats (23-18, 19-13 MIAA) and costly errors from the visitors allowed the home team to secure the series-opening triumph.

    April 18, 2014

  • WOMEN'S TENNIS: Conference champion NSU lands top seed in MIAA tourney

    The No. 31-ranked Northeastern State women's tennis team has drawn the top seed in the 2014 MIAA Women's Tennis Championship, the league announced Thursday morning.

    April 18, 2014