FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – John L. Smith has been named special teams coordinator at the University of Arkansas as announced by head coach Bobby Petrino on Friday.
Smith has 36 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 18 years as a head coach. With his addition to the Razorback staff, Smith and Petrino have worked together on the same coaching staff at four different schools (Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Arkansas).
“We are extremely fortunate to add John L. Smith to our coaching staff,” Petrino said. “His experience and knowledge of the collegiate game will be a tremendous asset to our student-athletes and our program. I have had the privilege to work with him on a number of occasions previously. He is an outstanding football coach and an outstanding person.”
As a head coach, Smith posted a 132-86 overall record and produced six conference champions (two Conference USA, two Big West and two Big Sky). Twelve of his 18 teams participated in postseason play. Smith is one of 19 coaches in collegiate football history to take three different schools to a bowl game.
From 2003-06 Smith was the head coach at Michigan State where he led the Spartans to a 22-26 overall record. He was named the Big 10 Coach of the Year in 2003 by posting the most wins by a first-year head coach in school history with an 8-4 record. During his time in East Lansing, 41 student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Prior to Michigan State, Smith spent five seasons at Louisville (1998-2002) where he led the Cardinals to then unprecedented success. He posted a 41-21 record, including five-straight bowl appearances and back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2000-01. The five bowl trips equaled the number of postseason appearances Louisville had made prior to his arrival and the five-consecutive winning seasons marked a first for the program.
Smith spent three seasons as head coach at Utah State prior to Louisville. He finished with a 16-18 record in three seasons after taking over a program that had produced only two winning seasons in the previous 15 years. Smith led the Aggies to consecutive Big West crowns in 1996-97. In 1997, Utah State earned a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl marking the second bowl appearance for the school since 1961.
Smith arrived at Utah State following six seasons at the University of Idaho where he became the winningest coach in school history. His six-year mark of 53-21 at Idaho included a 34-11 Big Sky Conference record and five postseason appearances.
Before becoming a head coach, Smith spent two years as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Washington State (1987-88) where he served under Dennis Erickson. He was also Erickson’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Wyoming during the 1986 season. Smith began his first stint at Idaho in 1982 where he again served as Erickson’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for four years (1982-85).
Smith’s coaching experience includes stops at Nevada (1977-81) and Montana (1972-76). During his tenure as defensive coordinator at Nevada, the Wolf Pack led the nation in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense in 1980. He began his coaching career in 1971 as a graduate assistant at Weber State.
A linebacker and a quarterback at Weber State, Smith earned Big Sky Conference scholar-athlete honors in 1971-72. He received his undergraduate degree in physical education with a minor in math in 1971. Smith earned a master’s of science degree in physical education from the University of Montana in 1974.
Smith lettered in three sports – football, basketball and track – while attending Bonneville High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He is married to the former Diana Flora and the two are parents of three children, Nick, Kayse and Sam.
John L. Smith
COACHING DUTIES: special teams
BORN: Nov. 15, 1948
FAMILY: wife, Diana; children, Nicholas, Kayse and Sam
EDUCATION: Bonneville HS (1967) Weber State – B.S. in physical education (1971) Montana – M.S. in physical education (1974)
JOINED ARKANSAS STAFF: Jan. 16, 2009
YEARS OF COLLEGIATE EXPERIENCE/YEARS AT ARKANSAS: 36/0
COACHING HISTORY: 2009 – Arkansas (special teams coordinator) 2003-06 – Michigan State (head coach) 1998-2002 – Louisville (head coach) 1995-97 – Utah State (head coach) 1989-94 – Idaho (head coach) 1987-88 – Washington State (assistant head coach – defensive coordinator) 1986 – Wyoming (assistant head coach – defensive coordinator) 1982-85 – Idaho (assistant head coach – defensive coordinator) 1977-1981 – Nevada (defensive coordinator) 1972-76 – Montana (assistant coach) 1971 – Weber State (graduate assistant)
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: Weber State (quarterback/linebacker, 1969-71)
POST SEASON EXPERIENCE: 1989 NCAA I-AA playoffs 1990 NCAA I-AA playoffs 1992 NCAA I-AA playoffs 1993 NCAA I-AA playoffs 1994 NCAA I-AA playoffs 1997 Humanitarian Bowl 1998 Motor City Bowl 1999 Humanitarian Bowl 2000 Liberty Bowl 2001 Liberty Bowl 2002 GMAC Bowl 2003 Alamo Bowl