Weber State University reacted quickly Thursday to John L. Smith's departure as head football coach, naming new defensive coordinator Jody Sears as its interim coach for the 2012 season.

The Big Sky Conference university appointed the 44-year-old Sears to Smith's staff on April 2. But on Monday, Smith left Weber State without ever coaching a game to become the interim head coach at the University of Arkansas.

Three days later, Sears was handed the reins to the program.

He will continue to be the Wildcats' defensive coordinator.

"I'm extremely honored by the opportunity to be in a position to be named interim head coach at Weber State," Sears said. "We have some great things in place here at Weber State and I look forward to working with our team this season."

"We are excited to welcome Jody as our interim head coach and are looking forward to the 2012 season under his leadership," Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee said. "Since Jody has been here he has stepped in and has been a great leader for our program. I'm confident that with his experience we will continue the stability of our program."

Sears, a native of Pullman, Wash., has nearly 20 years of coaching experience. He has spent the past three seasons at Washington State, his alma mater, as the co-defensive coordinator.

He has experience in the Big Sky as the defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington for five seasons from 2003-07.

Weber State is coming off a 5-6 campaign under Ron McBride, who retired following his seventh season with the Wildcats.

Weber State will begin the 2012 season on Sept. 1 at Fresno State.