The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors approved a new five-year contract for University of Louisiana at Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth at its April meeting on Tuesday.
“Our goal when coach Hudspeth and I sat down was to put together a contract that would keep him here for a long time, and I believe that this contract gets that done,” ULL Athletic Director Scott Farmer said in a university release. ”This agreement shows that both sides were interested in doing what was best for the Ragin’ Cajuns football program, and I am excited to work with coach Hudspeth to take the program to even bigger accomplishments.”
After inheriting a team that went 3-9 in 2010, Hudspeth guided the Cajuns to a 9-4 mark in 2011, including a victory in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in the school’s first bowl appearance since 1970. The nine victories tied the school record for wins in a season, and ULL set a school record with six Sun Belt victories.
The Ragin’ Cajuns went 5-0 at home last season, setting Sun Belt and Cajun Field records for average attendance (29,171) while the total attendance of 145,854 for five games was a Sun Belt record and the most at ULL since 1977. The Cajuns also led the nation with an increased attendance of 11,788.
“I am very grateful to (ULL President) Dr. (Joseph) Savoie, Scott Farmer and the members of the Louisiana Board of Supervisors for the commitment that they have made to the Ragin’ Cajuns program,” Hudspeth said. “This shows the great trust that they have for the coaching staff and the belief that the program is headed in the right direction.”
Hudspeth had four years remaining on the contract he signed when he was hired in December of 2010. That deal paid Hudspeth $350,000 a year, including a base salary of $175,000.
The base salary remains the same in the new contract, but the annual value of the contract improves to $750,000 a year. Hudspeth can also earn as much as $105,000 a year in incentive bonuses, based on the team’s performance, both on the field and in the classroom, and for attendance at UL games.
“One of the important parts of the new contract is that no new money from the university will be used with the increased value of the contract coming from private donations,” Farmer said.
SMITH INTRODUCED AS NEW COACH: In Fayetteville, Ark., John L. Smith knows Arkansas, knows the expectations for a powerful program rocked by a scandal that cost Bobby Petrino his job.
Smith pulled no punches Tuesday in declaring his intent to keep the Razorbacks in the thick in the Southeastern Conference and national championship races.
“Our expectations here are the same,” Smith said at his introductory news conference. “Nothing is going to slow down. In fact, we’re going to speed up. We’re going to fight and we’re going to battle. We’re going to fight for a national title.”
The 63-year-old Smith, who was an assistant for Arkansas the last three seasons under Petrino, is back after leaving the school in December to become the head coach at Weber State. He returns to a program that finished No. 5 last season and has even higher goals in the fall.
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long surprised virtually everyone by announcing Monday that Smith would be back for the 2012 season under a 10-month, $875,000 deal. He replaces Petrino, who was fired April 10 for not disclosing his affair with a woman he hired as his assistant.
Smith has a 132-86 record in 18 seasons as a head coach, including stops at Michigan State, Louisville, Idaho and Utah State. His hiring will allow Long to take his time in finding a long-term solution for a head coach.
“This was the best decision for this team for the 2012 season,” Long said.
Of course, Smith might want to stick around. He didn’t rule out the possibility.
Smith leaves his alma mater, Weber State, without coaching a game for the FCS school. It was a move Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee called “problematic” and one Smith said wasn’t made lightly.
“This is one of the toughest decisions in my life that I’ve ever had to make,” Smith said.
Smith was once thought of as an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks after leading Louisville to a 41-21 record in five seasons, including five straight bowl appearances. His star never shined brighter than in 2003 when he was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for leading Michigan State to an 8-5 record in his first season. The win total was most by a first-year coach in the Spartans’ history, but things went quickly downhill.
Michigan State was 14-21 in Smith’s next three seasons, leaving him with a 22-26 overall record, and he was fired following the 2006 season.
LONGTIME A.D. DALE DIES: In Jackson, Miss., former Southern Miss Athletic Director and former Southeastern Louisiana University football coach Roland Dale died Sunday. He was 84.
Dale played college football at Ole Miss and was an assistant football coach at the school under John Vaught for more than a decade during the 1960s and 1970s. He coached at Southeastern in 1972 and 1973, going 7-14. He was an assistant at Southern Miss during the 1950s and returned in 1974 to lead the athletic department, spearheading the renovation of Roberts Stadium and helping the Golden Eagles transition to membership in the Metro Conference.
Dale was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1995. He’s also been inducted into the hall of fame at both Ole Miss and Southern Miss.
Services are pending.