FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John L. Smith was in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Friday, attending the funeral for his younger brother Bart.
Arkansas spokesperson Zack Higbee issued a statement Friday, saying Smith boarded a plane for Idaho Falls after the Razorbacks’ final practice of the week Thursday night. He attended his brother’s funeral Friday afternoon and was scheduled to be back in Fayetteville to rejoin his team later in the evening.
Arkansas plays Rutgers at 6 p.m. tonight in Razorback Stadium.
Bart Smith, 53, passed away Monday according to Arkansas. An online obituary from the Post Register in Idaho Falls described Bart Smith’s favorite pastime as “following his brother, John L’s, college football teams wherever he was coaching, and of course, following his nephew Alex Smith’s NFL career. …”
Bart Smith died the same day Smith made national headlines with his Monday press conference, when he told the media to “Smile” before he would begin. It led to a wave of criticism for the coach, whose team was coming off a 52-0 loss to Alabama.
It also prompted Smith to explain his reasoning during his weekly radio show.
“In athletics, what do we teach our guys? Don’t show pain. Right? Why would you show that they’ve hurt you? Right?” Smith said Wednesday. “So why would I walk into a press conference and say, ‘Nick Saban just ripped my heart out?’ Even though you feel that, you’re not going to say that. You’re not going to act like that. …
“Football is our life. And coaching these young men is our life. And winning is our life,” Smith continued. “So to misconstrue trying to be positive, trying to exude a little positive energy to not caring or not being serious, whoever they are, those people are sadly, sadly mistaken. And I apologize if that’s the way it came across.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau