FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith is reported by numerous media outlets to have interviewed for the defensive coordinator’s position at Wake Forest University.
However no official Wake Forest offer to Smith has been reported or confirmed.
Neither Smith nor Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema could be reached Friday for comment.
Bielema has said other schools have expressed interest in various Aransas assistant coaches.
If Smith leaves for Wake Forest, he would replace defensive coordinator Mike Elko. Elko departed Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson’s staff to become the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.
Clawson’s Demon Deacons improved off successive 3-9 years to conclude 2016 at 7-6 and beating Temple in the Military Bowl.
An instant Arkansas hit when he arrived in 2014 to inherit a struggling defense off a 3-9 overall and 0-8 SEC team from 2013, Smith’s 2014 defense was instrumental in the Razorbacks vastly improving to 7-6 overall and 2-6 in the SEC. The 2014 Hogs posted unprecedented consecutive SEC shutouts by 17-0 and 30-0 in Fayetteville over nationally No. 20 LSU and nationally No. 8 Ole Miss and finished with a 31-7 Texas Bowl victory in Houston over the Texas Longhorns.
Although Arkansas in 2015 improved to 8-5, the Razorbacks often struggled defending the pass though they finished with a flourish stifling Missouri, 28-3 in Columbia, Mo. and defeating Kansas State, 45-23 in the Liberty Bowl.
Despite their defensive zenith holding SEC East champion and Outback Bowl winner Florida to just 12 yards rushing while beating the Gators, 31-10 in Fayetteville, the 7-6 Razorbacks of 2016 often struggled against the run. They especially struggled when Auburn rushed 543 yards while routing the Razorbacks, 56-3 in Auburn, Ala. and LSU rushing 390 yards while breezing 38-10 by the Hogs in Baton Rouge, La.
The Auburn and LSU games and yielding 533 yards total offense against Mississippi State, though Arkansas won the game, 58-42, contributed to offenses averaging 426.7 total offense yards per game on the Hogs for 2016.
Second-half collapses squandering 24-7 and 24-0 halftime leads in 28-24 and 35-24 losses at Missouri in Columbia and to Virginia Tech at the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. ignominiously closed the 2016 campaign. Arkansas offense getting shut out in both second halves contributed immensely to the season-ending woes.
Four second-half turnovers by Arkansas and a turnover not statistically counted, a fumble out of the end zone costing Arkansas a touchdown, dug the Arkansas defense a huge second-half hole against Virginia Tech.
Smith, 41, and Bielema first associated from 1999-2001 when Bielema was Iowa’s linebackers coach and Smith an Iowa graduate assistant and quality control coach.
Smith coached defense at Maine from 2002 through 2008 and was defensive coordinator his final three Maine seasons.
Smith joined the Rutgers defensive staff in 2009 coordinating special teams and variously coaching linebackers and defensive backs and was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2012.
In 2013 Smith as linebackers coach joined the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs head coached by former Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano.
When Schiano was fired by Tampa Smith rejoined Bielema and came to Arkansas.
If Smith does leave for Wake Forest or any other job, defensive coordinator candidates at Arkansas presumably will include Paul Rhoads, Arkansas’ defensive backfield coach in 2016 and previously Iowa State’s head coach serving as defensive coordinator at Auburn and the University of Pittsburgh.