FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema considered adding Robb Smith to his staff several times since the two first worked together as up-and-coming assistants.
The timing finally worked out this time around.
Smith, the former Rutgers defensive coordinator who spent last season with Tampa Bay in the NFL, was hired by Bielema and the Razorbacks over the weekend. The 38-year-old was introduced on Monday, vowing to bring an "aggressive philosophy" to a defense that allowed more than 30 points per game last season.
"We want to swarm to the football," Smith said. "We want to be physical at all levels of our defense ... That's just an attitude. That's the first thing we're going to bring."
Smith replaces former Chris Ash, who left for Ohio State last month, and he'll make $500,000 annually through June 30, 2016. Ash made $550,000 per year with the Razorbacks.
Smith takes over a unit that was 12th in the Southeastern Conference in points allowed last year, a season in which the Razorbacks lost their final nine games on the way to a 3-9 finish in Bielema's first season.
Bielema said he had talked about hiring Smith, who he worked with while an assistant coach at Iowa, several times over the years after taking over at Wisconsin. That included when he eventually hired Ash while with the Badgers, and last year — when he was uncertain whether Ash would join him at Arkansas.
Smith eventually chose to follow former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano to Tampa Bay, where he coached the linebackers last season. However, once Ash left for the Buckeyes last month — following Schiano's firing by the Buccaneers after the season — Bielema quickly reached out to Smith again.
This time, the timing was right.
During the weeks leading up to last week's national signing day, Bielema said he was in no hurry to name Ash's replacement. Once the recruiting season slowed down, though, he concentrated on filling the vacant position and finalized Smith's contract on Saturday.