OGDEN -- Weber State athletics director Jerry Bovee spent the better part of a month on a full-scale coaching search in November before hiring John L. Smith.
Now, he expects to replace Smith within days, not weeks, likely from within the current staff left behind by Smith.
That could be on an interim basis to get through the upcoming season, though Bovee is keeping his options open.
"I'm on a timeline so the clock is ticking," Bovee said; the timeline is a matter of days -- "It's not going to be constructive for us to go into weeks."
Whether or not the job is offered on an interim basis is too early to say, Bovee said. He met with Weber State's remaining football staff individually on Tuesday and has over two dozen phone calls to return.
Smith kept Bovee in the dark about his pursuit of the Arkansas job until late Sunday night, leaving him messages that Bovee returned after arriving in Indianapolis for NCAA meetings.
Smith was announced as the Razorbacks' new coach Monday and introduced at a news conference Tuesday in Fayetteville, Ark., replacing former Utah State and Weber State assistant Bobby Petrino, who was fired April 10 after admitting an affair with an employee.
"I didn't try to beg (Smith) to stay," Bovee said. "It wasn't going to be productive for me to lecture him on his choices. I got beyond that and we had a conversation about what I thought I needed to know beyond that point."
Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long told Bovee that Smith's new school will pay Weber State the $25,000 penalty owed for voluntarily terminating his contract within the first year of employment. Smith also violated a provision requiring him to give 30 days written notice prior.
Long said at the news conference that bringing Smith back to the school where he had been the special teams and linebackers coach for the past three seasons didn't cross his mind until assistant A.D. Jon Fagg told him Smith had contacted the school to show interest.
Smith, the 63-year-old former head coach at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State, called leaving WSU "one of the toughest decisions of my life," but said he had been talked into one more shot at a high profile job by his wife Diane. Smith signed a 10-month, $850,000-contract, essentially giving him a one-season tryout while Long evaluates him and other candidates.
Now back in Ogden, Bovee is in the same situation Arkansas was, looking for a coach late in the game after the coaching carousel has usually come to a full stop. The effort and expense of Weber State's full-scale search in November is up in smoke.
"I haven't allowed myself to sit around and worry about that," Bovee said. "I don't know how that is productive. Just like in any business or any proposition, you make some decisions based on good faith and sometimes our decisions in life come back to cost us in time, money and effort.
"I kind of refuse in my own mind sit back and think about what could have been, what should have been, what may have been. It's what is and what's going to be that I'm much more interested in."
"This is a different situation than we were dealing with in November, no question."
Bovee said he has spoken with former WSU coach Ron McBride, whose retirement led to Smith's hiring, but McBride did not express interest in returning.
Reached Tuesday afternoon, Weber State offensive coordinator Matt Hammer said he would be interested in becoming the Wildcats' head coach. Other assistants have also expressed interest.
"I'd be crazy if I wasn't jumping up and down for that opportunity," he said, "but I'll support whatever needs to be done to help this program."
Hammer was retained by Smith from McBride's staff and has been at WSU for six full seasons, the past three as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
"The thing that probably hurts me a little bit is how fast it's happened for me," the 29-year-old said. "Or is that a good thing? Why did coach Smith and coach Mac give me so much responsibility in such a short amount of time?"
As for Smith's sudden departure 41/2 months after his hiring, Smith "definitely could have communicated (his interest in Arkansas) better with Jerry Bovee. That would have been a better thing to do, but at the same time ... If it was another school, say the University of Alabama, there's something wrong with that, but with him already being (at Arkansas recently), I don't think it's as big a deal as everyone's making it out to be."
Smith also owed a better explanation to the fans at Weber State, Hammer said. Smith refused to speak to reporters at his office at Stewart Stadium and evaded them on the way out the door to the airport to take the job at Arkansas.
"The bad thing is it leaves a sour taste in everyone's mouth," Hammer said.
However, having worked for Smith since December, Hammer said he had nothing but good things to say about him.
"If you watched his press conference like I did, I could tell he was really eaten up at the sad decision he had to make, but it really came down to the previous relationships he had with the kids at Arkansas.
"There's no way he could have looked in a crystal ball and seen that coach Petrino was going to get fired in five months."