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John L. Smith hired by Arkansas for upcoming season

Arkansas is expected to announce that they have hired John L. Smith on an interim basis to replace Bobby Petrino as the head coach of the football team. Smith has 18 years of head coaching experience in college football and is known for his stints at Louisville and Michigan State.

Smith went 41-21 from 1998-2002 as head coach of Louisville and was succeeded by Petrino — his former assistant. He went 22-26 from 2003-2006 at Michigan State before being fired following a 4-8 season.

Smith joined Petrino’s staff at Arkansas as a special teams coach in 2009 and departed after last season to become the head coach at Weber State. Though Arkansas will achieve some continuity by bringing back Smith, what he’s doing to Weber State is pretty crappy.

Smith will be leaving Weber State, his alma mater, without coaching a game for them. He’s walking out on players he recruited less than five months before the new season begins. I guess it was too good of an opportunity for him to overlook; he’s being handed a top-10 program and a chance to put his name back on the map.

Jessica Dorrell on paid leave, was hired over guy listing Saban, Miles as references

The inevitable fallout from Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle crash, affair, and firing is taking place. Jessica Dorrell, the mistress on the back of his motorcycle when he crashed, is officially on paid leave from her position with the Arkansas football program.

Dorrell is the football program’s student-athlete development coordinator. She was selected over 158 other candidates and her hiring was announced the week before Petrino’s motorcycle crash. As if Petrino hiring his mistress over 158 others isn’t bad enough, he also gave her a $20,000 gift.

But wait, there’s more … 40/29 Sports in Fayetteville shows us just how much favoritism went on with Dorrell’s hiring. They say the two other finalists for the position were Benjamin Wilkerson and Tiffany Fields, both of whom had strong recommendations and seemed extremely qualified.

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Arkansas made unpopular, but right decision to fire Bobby Petrino

If there’s one thing I learned from being in sports radio for several years, it’s that Arkansas football fans are as passionate as it gets. They probably don’t get as much attention as other fan bases because they don’t poison trees, get punched at fast food restaurants, or have a huge rival, but Hog fans love their team and are as fervent as they come. That’s why I was expecting Arkansas to appease its fan base by penalizing Bobby Petrino embarrassing the school with his crash and affair rather than outright firing him. I was wrong; athletic director Jeff Long made the bold and moral decision to fire Petrino.

Petrino came to Arkansas after leaving the Atlanta Falcons mid-season. He notified his players he was leaving them with a note taped in their lockers. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer called him a “gutless coward” for the way he handled things. Arkansas knew the poor character Petrino had when they got him, but after the Houston Nutt mess, it didn’t matter — they wanted a winner. And that’s what they got.

Petrino needed just two years to turn the Hogs into a winner, going 5-7 and then 8-5 in his first two seasons. He took it to another level leading Arkansas to back-to-back double-digit win seasons the past two years. The program was enjoying its greatest success since Ken Hatfield was coach in the late ’80s. They hadn’t quite reached the Frank Broyles level of success from the ’60s, but they were close. The fan base had been clamoring for a return to those days and they were nearly there. That’s why firing Petrino is such an unpopular move.

But Bobby deserved to be fired. He hired his mistress for a position on the football staff, giving her the job over 158 other applicants, and paying her $20,000 as a gift. He got into a motorcycle crash and lied to the school to cover up his “inappropriate relationship.” Based on his history, Petrino leaving the school on bad terms is not a surprise. What’s surprising is that Arkansas, which hired a guy who left his NFL team mid-season, decided to draw a line and say they weren’t willing to stoop lower than that to win.

Whether it was because they felt embarrassed over the negative publicity, were upset they were lied to, or like they needed to protect themselves in a legal sense, or that they just didn’t want Bobby Petrino representing the university anymore, Arkansas made the right decision to move on. They’re sacrificing potential success on the field to stand their moral ground. It was the only call to make.

Photo Credit: Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE

Bobby Petrino admits ‘inappropriate relationship’ with Jessica Dorrell, placed on leave

Bobby Petrino issued a statement late Thursday in which admitted he hid details from the public and university regarding his motorcycle crash. In his statement, Petrino said he tried to hide that Jessica Dorrell was riding on his motorcycle to protect his family “from a previous inappropriate relationship becoming public.”

“In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details,” his statement reads.

Petrino was placed on administrative leave while the school investigates the matter. Petrino has a clause in his contract that states the school can fire him if he did something that negatively affects the program. Here’s what they will have to decide.

Is keeping Petrino worth the embarrassment he’s caused? He lied to the school about what happened. Specifically, he tried to hide that Jessica Dorrell, with whom he was having an affair, was riding with him on the motorcycle. He also just hired Dorrell for a position on the football staff last week. Arkansas is a public state school and there likely are state laws about having a sexual relationship with a subordinate, even if it’s consensual.

The question is if Arkansas will choose to address any of this and exercise their termination clause. Petrino just led the school to back-to-back double-digit win seasons and a BCS bowl game. They became a mess under Huston Nutt and couldn’t wait to have a successful coach lead the school. They were so desperate to win they hired a man who walked out on his team midseason without so much as a phone call.

I think they’ll ultimately choose to keep Petrino while penalizing him in some way that makes it look like he’s been disciplined. That is not the proper way to address things, I just think the University of Arkansas cares more about having a winning football program than about having a lying, cheating, sleazy coach.

Here is the full text of his statement via Arkansas Sports 360:

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25-year-old Jessica Dorrell was on Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle during crash, and he covered it up

Not only was Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino riding a motorcycle without a helmet when he crashed Sunday night, but he also had a 25-year-old athletic department employee riding with him, and he lied about that detail.

The police report from the crash says 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell was on the back of Petrino’s motorcycle, though she miraculously was uninjured. Dorrell left in her car while Petrino was taken to the hospital by a police captain who also serves as Petrino’s security guard during the football season. That’s where the cover-up began.

A release from the University of Arkansas earlier this week said Petrino was involved in a wreck “that involved no other individuals.”

Petrino also left out that Dorrell was on the motorcycle when speaking with the media.

“When I came out of a ditch, there was a lady there that had flagged down a car. And the guy that was in the passenger seat said get in we’ll just take you right to the hospital,” he said, per ArkansasSports360.

Petrino told the media that he had spent the day at a lake with his wife, Becky.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Petrino says he hid the detail about Dorrell from the school.

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Video: Arkansas’ Joe Adams Avoids Entire Tennessee Team on Amazing Punt Return

Arkansas senior wide receiver Joe Adams had easily one of the best punt returns we’ve ever seen. In the picture above, you can see him. He’s the little red speck surrounded by monsters wearing orange and white. There were five bodies around him at that moment, and none of them got him. Neither did any of the other six Vols on the field. Watch one of the most improbable plays we’ve ever seen:

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Arkansas to Pay Tribute to 9/11 with Patriotic Midfield Logo (Picture)

There are sure to be plenty of tributes to 9/11 across the sporting world this weekend, and I hope there are no fines that come along with those tributes.  The line between what is allowed by league standards and what is morally correct should be blurred on the 10th anniversary of the most tragic event in our nation’s history.  We already commended Lance Briggs for wearing cleats and gloves that pay tribute to 9/11, and I think I speak for everyone when I say it would be a joke for the league to fine him — or anyone else — for doing something like that.

CBSSports.com’s Eye on College Football blog passed along another awesome tribute to us on Thursday, this time from Arkansas.  The Razorbacks have decided to tweak their midfield logo for Saturday’s game against New Mexico to make it patriotic.  Check it out:

As ArkansasSports360.com points out, Razorback fans are also being asked to wear red or white depending on what section they are seated in.  The student section has been given blue shirts to wear.  There are sure to be plenty more tributes like this one popping up throughout the weekend, but this is a good place to set the bar.