John L. Smith, Bobby Petrino to Auburn, and the Making of a Nontroversy

Arkansas 360’s Jim Harris tweeted Arkansas interim coach John L. Smith’s response to a fan’s question at an event. The fan asked Smith where he thought Bobby Petrino would coach next year and gave him two options, Kentucky or Auburn. Smith laughed at the question, a sign he was not considering it too seriously and said “a better guess would be Auburn.”

Instantly, this became “John L. Smith says Bobby Petrino will coach at Auburn,” meaning Gene Chizik would be fired. Cue the hysteria. Send this through the spin cycle and get quotes from everyone involved. Let the SEC message board servers brace for impact. The trouble is that is not what Smith said and is not the most plausible implication of what he said. Smith was given a hypothetical with two possible answers, Kentucky or Auburn. After laughing, He said “a better guess” would be Auburn.

Was Smith (a) seriously assessing the job prospects of Gene Chizik and Joker Phillips (b) throwing out Auburn as a likely destination for Petrino or (c) suggesting there might be way too much animosity for Petrino to be a popular hire at Kentucky?

This was a former Louisville coach discussing a former Louisville coach and not taking the question seriously. We would lean toward option (c). We can’t say with certainty, but neither can anyone else who read it in 140 characters.

He could have been more diplomatic and backed away, but then he would not be John L. Smith. Smith also said “State of Alabama” when he meant “State of Arkansas.” That would totally be the first time a man in his 60s, exhausted from the simultaneous clashing of personal and professional crises, innocently flubbed his wording.

John L. Smith is off the wall in ideal circumstances. Right now he is driving a 200mph bullet train on a rickety track. The brake just broke off in his hand. Must we really prime the pump?

[Photo via Presswire]

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