Arkansas replaces fired Bobby Petrino with John L. Smith

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas has made it official: John L. Smith is returning as head coach of the Razorbacks.

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The school said Monday that Smith has signed a 10-month contract worth $850,000 to replace Bobby Petrino, who was fired earlier this month.

"I am tremendously excited to have this special opportunity to return to Arkansas and lead the Razorback football program," Smith said in a statement.

Smith was an assistant for the Razorbacks, but he left after last season to become the head coach at Weber State. He's also a former head coach at Michigan State and Louisville.

Hiring Smith allows Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long to take his time to find a permanent head coach. Petrino's firing came during spring practice for much of the college football world, a time when few coaches were willing to leave their current positions for the unknown -- even for a top-five team that already had a coaching staff in place.

Word of Smith's hire spread quickly Monday, and some Arkansas players responded with their approval on Twitter.

"The happiest day of my life," Razorbacks running back Knile Davis tweeted. "Hearing that John L. Smith is coming back to (Fayetteville) to (be) our head coach."

Petrino came to Arkansas in December 2007 after quitting 13 games into his tenure as coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. Arkansas fired Petrino on April 10 for failing to disclose his relationship and $20,000 in gifts to a woman he later hired as his assistant.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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