John L Smith Resigns, Leaves Program in Shambles, Counts Money, Gives Finger to Michigan State
Yeah, like you didn't see this coming. It's the old "Stairs or the Window" routine. I guess Johnny decided it was better to fall on your own sword than have someone else do the honors.
In case you missed it yesterday and this morning, John L. Smith resigned from his position as head football coach for Michigan State University. And if by "resigned from" you mean "forced out at the barrel of a gun and an angry mob" you've pretty much got the whole story.
Though responsible for the turn around at Louisville which netted him the MSU job, Smith was never able to duplicate that success in East Lansing. Year after year seemingly talented Spartan teams fumbled, threw away, or simply gave up on promising seasons. Most of the blame was placed, fairly in my opinion, on Smith and his coaching staff. Lack of discipline on the field and off marked his tenure.
I'm on record as saying I want a strong MSU program. I want rivalry games that mean something again. I want Herstreit telling national TV audiences how MSU will wipe the carpet with Michigan again. Mostly, I just want Smith out of the state of Michigan.
Smith was, at best, a mercenary. He went where the money took him. That's why he bolted Louisville at half time of a bowl game. He had nothing emotionally invested in that program, it was just a stop a long the way. I believe that's want he saw at MSU. That's why he never won over the Spartan faithful. He never understood that it wasn't enough to beat the Big Ten dregs and go to the occassional Motor City bowl. He never got the passion. He never understood why UM/MSU is a rivalry. He never understood that it wasn't enough to be "somewhat" competitive with the elite teams rather than being a member of that fraternity. He never understood that a football game has two halves.
If you think Smith is smarting from his wrist slap and canning you're wrong. MSU will buy out the remaining two years on his contract. Smith's annual salary was $1.35 million. However, Smith's buyout clause is $1.5 million. So John L. leaves not only with the program's dignity in his back pocket, but with a $1.5 million smile on his face as he goes in search of new work.
And don't kid yourself, he'll coach somewhere else. Maybe not at a $1 million dollar paycheck, but at a salary high enough to keep gas in the Hummer. His 132-83 record in 18 seasons as a college head coach tells me someone will offer him a job again. It won't be a major or mid-major program. Most likely it will be a small time school trying to better itself with a man who can recruit, and outcoach other bad coaches. Remember, going from 1-11 to 5-7 is an improvement for some schools.
Despite his job prospects, Smith was a disaster at Michigan State. Despite going to the Alamo Bowl in his first year, MSU finished 5-6 and 5-7 the next two years. This year is already spiraling out of control as Zook and the Illini beat the Spartans in East Lansing and the Hoosiers scored 46, FORTY-SIX, unanswered points against State in one of the season's more lopsided-didn't-see-that-one-coming ass whippings. With the talent on Michigan State's sidelines, what Smith and his coaching staff have given the Spartan faithful borders on criminal.
Goodbye John L. Security will see you out.