FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. AUBURN
1. Smith On Financial Situation
Arkansas coach John L. Smith hasn’t said much publicly regarding his financial situation since filing for bankruptcy last month. But Smith did speak briefly Thursday, after his team wrapped up its preparation for Saturday’s game at Auburn.
Smith was asked about a USA Today report, which outlined how he and business partners ran into financial trouble thanks to land deals that turned sour in Kentucky. One partner, Louisville developer Steve Canfield, told USA Today that Smith “left us holding the bag in a lot of ways.” Another sued him and won an $865,000 judgement earlier this year.
“Well, when this is all over I could go through it with you over who held what bag,” Smith said Thursday in response to Canfield’s comment.
Amended bankruptcy documents filed in federal court Wednesday showed Smith’s liabilities have climbed to $40.7 million. The original filing two weeks ago showed Smith’s liabilities were at $25.7 million. The difference appears to be $15 million owed to Branch Banking and Trust in Louisville, Kent.
“It was just a matter of research and finding out everything that’s out there, different loans,” Smith said about the additional $15 million in liabilities.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know how many different loans there are.”
Smith — who is being paid $850,000 under his 10-month Arkansas contract – confirmed he does have a bankruptcy court date to attend next week. It is scheduled for Oct. 12, which is the day before Arkansas’ home game against Kentucky.
Smith, who has said several times his financial troubles would not be a distraction for the team this season, hopes it will end next week. But he’s not sure. Still, Smith said the troubles are not distracting him with seven games left in the season.
“Not me, and I’m very fortunate,” Smith said. “Because they’re taking care of it and I’ve got a wife that’s more on top of it.”
2. Wright Out
Smith said Wednesday night Arkansas would not have tight end Chris Gragg for Saturday’s game at Auburn. But he isn’t the only senior who will be sidelined.
Defensive end Tenarius Wright will undergo an imaging scan on his shoulder and isn’t expected to play. The senior has been dealing with the injury most of the season. It first occurred during preseason camp.
“That was part of the reason that we moved him back down to defensive end, to try and take some heat off of hurting that anymore than it has been,” Smith said. “So I think what we have to do, get him an MRI next week and find out exactly where that is as far as the injury goes. So that’s what our process is going to be there.”
Wright, who started the season at linebacker, ranks fourth on the team in tackles (28). Defensive end is one of Arkansas’ deepest positions, with Chris Smith, Trey Flowers, Colton Miles-Nash and Austin Flynn earning work on the edge.
3. Smith On Harris
Former Arkansas linebacker Bret Harris, who was arrested and charged with terroristic threatening on Tuesday, remained in custody Thursday.
Harris, via Twitter, threatened to “kill” Arkansas trainer Matt Summers, according to a University of Arkansas Police Department arrest report. Smith was asked about the situation after Thursday’s practice and couldn’t provide many specifics, but said he wanted to “keep it away from our guys” as they prepared for Auburn.
But Smith hopes Harris, who played from 2007-11, will get the help he needs.
“I love Bret,” said Smith, who was Harris’ position coach at Arkansas. “I guess I love them all. I do love him and I’m just hoping for the very, very best for him. If he has some issues, doggone it, we have to do everything we can to help him. Let’s try to do that. …
“I thought he was going to do some coaching. We’ve talked several times since I’ve been back. But he’s a good young man and, again, if he has some issues and some problems, doggone it we need to get him some help.”
Harris, whose bond is set at $20,000, has a hearing scheduled for Friday. He also has a court date currently set for Nov. 2, according to the Washington County website.
4. Bennett Will Play
Arkansas safety Eric Bennett will be available for Saturday’s game after missing the Texas A&M loss with a leg injury. But Smith said Bennett won’t stat. Redshirt freshman Alan Turner will hold the position for the second straight week.
Smith said cornerback Kaelon Kelleybrew, who left the Texas A&M game with an apparent head injury, will be available Saturday. It’s not clear if Kelleybrew will return to the starting lineup or if Davyon McKinney will get his first start.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau