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Wilson watched Smith’s eyes fill with tears earlier this week when discussing the likely end to his tenure at Arkansas, and the quarterback admitted the last six months “have been tough” following Petrino’s firing. Wilson praised Smith for helping to keep the team together.

“He’s always got a smile,” Wilson said. “Whether he’s feeling it deep down in there or not, it’s the way he expresses himself. And, you know, it touches everybody.”

Long’s next step becomes finding a new head coach to build on the recent success at the school. Long said all assistant coaches have the option to remain a part of the football staff pending the hiring of a new coach.

Whoever takes over will inherit a program that earned its first BCS berth two years ago in the Sugar Bowl. Arkansas also won the Cotton Bowl last season and finished ranked No. 5.

“Our new coach will be an individual who shares the passion for success our fans do, and who is willing to work relentlessly to achieve our goals,” Long said.