Last week, Petrino began reaching out to his former players and to Smith.
"It was a good conversation," said Smith. "It was basically about our football team at Arkansas, of which he's always concerned that, and of course what he's going to do from here on out with his life, things he'd like to get done."
The firing left the program in turmoil. Long then turned to former Petrino assistant John L. Smith to lead the program. However, Smith signed only a ten-month contract. That does not mean he is shy about wanting the position after the season.
"Well certainly, do I look stupid," said Smith when asked he wants the job permanently. "Hopefully we're going to, knock on wood, and make things happen to where we give him no choice but to say, yeah, you're going to be back here next year."
Smith's past in Fayetteville won over the players. Smith captained the special teams for three seasons under Petrino. He earned their respect.
"John L. Smith brings a different style of coaching, but I think it's good for us," said junior running-back Knile Davis. "He's been here before and we still have the same coaching staff that we have had."
Smith inherits a veteran team with expectations of nothing short than a national title. He admits he will have to count on them. Then again, the players admit they are counting on his unique coaching style.
"He has a swag about himself, which is really funny and enthusiastic," said Arkansas senior linebacker Tenarius Wright. "He wants to make sure your personal life is in place. No worries off the field so you can go out and focus on the field."
Arkansas returns several starters on both defense and offense from last season's 11-2 team. Expectations follow them too. Wright returns as one of the SEC's top pass rusher. Davis and senior quarterback Tyler Wilson return as early Heisman Trophy favorites.
"I think we handle them (expectations) like we've always handled them, that;s embrace the expectations and embrace the hype a little bit," said Wilson. "It's not what kind of conversation you're in now. It's what kind of conversation you're in there at the end."
Then again, that's all Smith wants, a chance at the end of the season.
Arkansas opens the season September first against Jacksonville State in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks open SEC play September 15th against Alabama in Fayetteville.