Sources: Robb Smith leaving for Minnesota

By: Clay Henry
Published: Monday, January 9, 2017
Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith, foreground, walks the sideline as head coach Bret Bielema, background, watches during a game against Missouri on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Columbia, Mo.
Photo by Jason Ivester
Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith, foreground, walks the sideline as head coach Bret Bielema, background, watches during a game against Missouri on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Columbia, Mo.

— Arkansas is in the market for a new defensive coordinator.

Robb Smith is leaving the Razorbacks after three seasons for the same position at Minnesota, according to sources. There Smith will be reunited with P.J. Fleck, the Golden Gophers' new head coach who worked with Smith in 2010-11 at Rutgers.

ESPN first reported the move and Minnesota has yet to announce the hiring. An Arkansas spokesperson could not confirm whether Smith had resigned.

Smith has ties to the Big Ten. He was a graduate assistant coach at Iowa from 1999-2001 and met his wife while working for the Hawkeyes.

It was there that Smith also met Bret Bielema, who was an assistant coach on the staff. Bielema hired Smith as the Razorbacks' defensive coordinator in 2014 after former coordinator Chris Ash left for a similar position at Ohio State.

Arkansas' defense saw drastic improvement in Smith's first year, but regressed the past two seasons. The Razorbacks were ranked 10th nationally in total defense in 2014, 58th in 2015 and 76th this season.

Arkansas allowed 31.1 points per game and 426.6 yards per game this season, and allowed a school-record 39 rushing touchdowns - 14 more than last season when the defense gave up a then-record 25.

The Razorbacks allowed at least 30 points in eight games in 2016 and gave up an SEC-record 543 rushing yards in a 56-3 loss to Auburn in October.

The defensive struggles led Bielema to say he would look at implementing a 3-4 defensive scheme prior to the 2017 season. Smith's defensive packages were mostly out of a 4-3 scheme.

Minnesota wasn't the only job Smith explored since the Razorbacks' loss to Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. He also interviewed for the vacant defensive coordinator job at Wake Forest last week, according to sources.

Per terms of his contract, Smith would owe Arkansas $250,000 to break his contract, which runs through the 2018 season.

Smith was in line to receive a $50,000 pay raise this month that would increase his annual compensation to $850,000.

Matt Jones contributed

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