FAYETTEVILLE - Former Arkansas Coach Danny Ford learned Monday he is to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame while Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith was reported again to be on the move, this time to the University of Minnesota.
Last Thursday Smith was reported by Football Scoop to be close to being named the new defensive coordinator at Wake Forest.
ESPN reported Monday that new Minnesota Golden Gophers Coach P.J. Fleck will hire Smith as defensive coordinator and that he officially will be named later this week.
As of Monday evening no confirmation of Smith’s Minnesota hiring has been reported by Minnesota, Smith or Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema.
A former defensive coordinator first at Maine and then at Rutgers before joining former Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano’s NFL staff coaching linebackers for the Tampa Bay Bucs, Smith joined Bielema’s Arkansas staff as defensive coordinator in 2014.
Smith drew major acclaim when the 2014 Razorbacks, 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC in 2013, improved to 7-6, 2-6 with the SEC victories consecutive shutouts over LSU and Ole Miss and ending the season with a 31-7 Texas Bowl triumph over the Texas Longhorns.
Although Bielema’s Razorbacks went 8-5, and 7-6 in 2015 and 2016, the defenses the past two seasons, with some exceptions like whipping SEC East champion Florida, 31-10 in 2016, and stifling Missouri, 28-3 in 2015, have not measured up to the 2014 defense.
Ford Still Needed Arkansas
Ford was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame primarily for 1978-1989 tenure at Clemson with a 96-29-4 record including the 1981 national championship when his Tigers went 12-0.
His Arkansas official record of 26-30-1 from 1993-97 obviously wasn’t so successful but his 8-5 1995 Razorbacks won the SEC West, the first of only four SEC West titles in Arkansas’ history.
“I wouldn’t have been (Hall of Fame) eligible without Arkansas,” Ford said Monday. “I didn’t have enough wins to qualify.”
Ford said he had been oblivious of Hall of Fame requirements when he accepted since retired Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles offer to become the Razorbacks coach after returning to coaching as an offensive consultant to Arkansas interim coach Joe Kines in 1992.
“It’s an honor but I am surprised to be in it to tell you the truth,” Ford said Monday. “Really it’s an honor to the players and assistant coaches because you don’t get anywhere without them as you well know.”
Ford, living in Clemson, S.C. since leaving Arkansas, said he still maintains friendships in Arkansas and while knowing “it was time” for Broyles to make a change remains proud of much of his Arkansas tenure. Ford’s successes included not only the 1995 SEC West title and two victories over Alabama among his SEC triumphs, but leaving the classes that were the crux of the 1998 Razorbacks that Houston Nutt coached to a 9-3 SEC West co-championship season and the 8-4 Razorbacks of 1999 that routed Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
“We left them some tough kids that had the stew beat out of them for a couple of years but I was proud they showed they could win,” Ford said.
Ford joins Broyles, Lou Holtz and the late Bowden Wyatt as Hall of Fame coaches who coached the Razorbacks.