Reports: Hogs' defensive coordinator to Gophers

Smith moves on after 3-year stay

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
NWA Democrat-Gazette/JASON IVESTER
Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith watches during Razorbacks practice on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, at Charlotte Latin High School. The Razorbacks will play Virginia Tech on Thursday for the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Photo by Jason Ivester
NWA Democrat-Gazette/JASON IVESTER Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith watches during Razorbacks practice on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, at Charlotte Latin High School. The Razorbacks will play Virginia Tech on Thursday for the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith is leaving the Razorbacks to reunite with a former colleague.

Smith has agreed to take the defensive coordinator's job on the staff of new Minnesota Coach P.J. Fleck, according to multiple reports, in a move that was first reported by ESPN.com.

Smith, 41, completed his third season at Arkansas, which ranked No. 76 in the FBS in total defense and allowed a school-record 39 rushing touchdowns, the most in the FBS this season. The Razorbacks were ranked No. 10 in both total defense and scoring defense in Smith's first season of 2014, but they slipped statistically each of the past two years.

ESPN.com reported that Fleck was hoping to complete his staff by Thursday. Neither Arkansas nor Minnesota confirmed the move on Monday.

Smith had also been in the running to replace defensive coordinator Mike Elko at Wake Forest.

Smith and Fleck were on the same staff at Rutgers under Coach Greg Schiano for two seasons in 2010-2011, with Fleck serving as wide receivers coach and Smith handling cornerbacks in 2010 and linebackers in 2011. Smith coordinated special teams both seasons.

Smith was promoted to defensive coordinator by Schiano in 2012 and was part of the Scarlet Knights' 35-26 victory over Arkansas on Sept. 22 that season. He followed Schiano to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as linebackers coach in 2013 before the staff was let go.

Smith has ties to the Big Ten, having worked as a graduate assistant coach at Iowa from 1999-2001, where he met current Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema, an Iowa graduate who was then a Hawkeyes assistant coach.

Smith would owe Arkansas $250,000 to break his contract per the terms of the agreement he signed in early 2015. The contract, which called for a $50,000 increase in pay to $850,000 this season, runs through 2018.

Bielema will be making his third hire at defensive coordinator in his fifth season at Arkansas. Chris Ash resigned after one season to become co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State for its national championship run in 2014, then Ash took over as head coach at Rutgers in 2016.

Sports on 01/10/2017

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