FAYETTEVILLE — John L. Smith is no stranger to adventures. The coach, after all, ran with the bulls in Pamplona and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

FAYETTEVILLE — John L. Smith is no stranger to adventures. The coach, after all, ran with the bulls in Pamplona and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

So when former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was fired on April 10, the 63-year-old Smith saw another challenge he simply couldn’t ignore: helping Arkansas work through a tumultuous time.

“If there is a door open, walk through it,” Smith said. “If there’s a window open, jump out of it. I guess I’ve always been a little that way.

“My wife said this is just another one of your adventures.”

Arkansas introduced the energetic and eccentric Smith as its next football coach Tuesday, welcoming him back to a program he left last winter after spending three years as an assistant on Petrino’s staff.

He resigned as Weber State’s head coach after just five months — a decision that has been met with plenty of criticism from outside the program — to sign to a 10-month agreement that will pay him $850,000.

The terms of the agreement offer no guarantees for the future. Smith doesn’t expect it, saying the season will dictate what happens.

He said his only concern, and only reason for leaving his alma mater, was trying to help guide Arkansas to a championship now.

“Our expectations are the same,” Smith said. “Nothing’s going to slow down. In fact, we’re going to speed up. Our expectations are that we’re going to go ahead and we’re going to battle and fight for a national title. It was that way when I walked in the door three years ago and it’s going to continue to be that way. I know this, not only the fans, but this football team and the coaches are going to embrace that challenge and say, ‘Let’s go.’ Let’s make it a special year.”

Smith brings 18 years of head coaching experience to Arkansas, going 132-86 at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State. His last stop as a head coach came with the Spartans, where he was named the Big Ten’s coach of the year after his first season in 2003 and was fired in 2006.

While part of his desire to return was to help the program, Smith also admitted he wants redemption after being ousted at Michigan State.

“Yes,” Smith said. “The answer is: Yes.”

So he is back with an Arkansas program that has been searching for stability since athletic director Jeff Long fired Petrino on April 10.

Smith is familiar with players on campus after working as special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach from 2009-11. Running back Knile Davis and quarterback Tyler Wilson were among the veterans in attendance for Smith’s press conference Tuesday.

“Guys love him,” Wilson said. “Guys are going to want to play for him. Guys are going to want to take the field, proving to everybody that we made a great decision, great hire as head football coach.”

Smith also has worked with eight of Arkansas’ nine remaining assistant coaches, including coordinators Paul Petrino and Paul Haynes. Running backs coach Tim Horton and defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell were on hand, while the rest of the staff was on the road recruiting.

“When it first broke, I probably talked to them and gotten texts that I would be welcomed back,” Smith said. “They said, ‘Coach get your tail back here to help with the battle,’ more or less, would be the conversation. I feel touched to have them think that.”

The appointment gives athletic director Jeff Long with more time to evaluate the head coaching position to find a full-time leader.

He didn’t rule Smith out of the long-term equation when asked Tuesday, but said his search for the program’s leader after the season would continue. Long did admit Smith originally wasn’t in consideration until the coach expressed his interest with a phone call to the school.

“Certainly, the timing and specific circumstances of this process carry some real challenges for us,” Long said. “Every search is unique, but this one was especially so. … There’s no question in my mind that this is the best decision for this team for the 2012 season.”

Smith arrived in Fayetteville late Monday night and will begin working immediately. Horton said the plan was to call recruits Tuesday night.

Head coaches are not allowed to go out on the road during the spring evaluation period, but Smith said he has plenty of work to do as he begins his new adventure as Arkansas’ head coach.

“We have to make it a special season,” Smith said. “We have to embrace the adversity and say we’re going to be better because of it.”