We're not even to May yet, but Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long gets the early vote for Administrator of the Year in college football.
Long did the right thing – even though it was the hard thing – when he fired super-successful coach Bobby Petrino. Long handled that difficult duty with enough fortitude and passion that it turned fan disappointment and anger into pride in the institution. Big-money donations immediately flowed in after Long deposed his duplicitous coach.
Now Long has backed that up with a smart hire in John L. Smith as Petrino's short-term replacement. Not a sexy hire, but a smart one.
The Arkansas fans wildly wishing for one of the Usual Untouchable Suspects – Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci, the ghost of Bear Bryant – may not love it. The Arkansas fans wildly wishing for one of the Unusual Suspects – Sean Payton or a current head coach at a powerhouse program – will be disappointed. But the Arkansas fans who want what's best for both a very talented 2012 team and the future will indeed be happy with John L. He's the best available man for the job.