The SEC right now is not only the place that possesses the top college football talent in the nation, but the coaching as well. Coaches such as Alabama‘s Nick Saban, LSU‘s Les Miles, Georgia‘s Mark Richt, and South Carolina‘s Steve Spurrier are practically household names.
This past offseason, former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema decided he wanted to try and join this fraternity of coaches in the south. By accepting the coaching gig at the University of Arkansas, Bielema made that leap and will try to turn around a program that hasn’t exactly seen its share of good days lately.
However, even should he turn the Razorbacks around, will he ever truly be accepted among the SEC’s elite head men?
To begin with, Bielema enters the SEC being seen as a bit of a hypocrite. While still coaching the Badgers in the Big Ten Conference, the coach had some harsh, sarcastic remarks about the power conference in the south and how they handle their business. Mainly taking shots at their recruiting tactics when Urban Meyer first took over the Ohio State Buckeyes, the southern contingent got a good chuckle out of the comments.
Now, Bielema has entered right into the belly of the beast.
Just looking at the division in which he now finds himself in the SEC West, his addition to that fraternity is an intriguing situation.
On one hand, there’s Alabama’s Nick Saban. The current holder of three national championships in the last four seasons, whether you like him or not, there’s not many people in the country that don’t respect him. He resurrected one of the most storied programs in the history of college football–a feat no one ever thought could be accomplished. Nick Saban is the kind of coach that you’d like to lock yourself in a film room with and just soak in every bit of information that comes out of his mouth.
And on the other hand, there’s Les Miles. The owner of one national championship in Baton Rouge, as well as having taken another trip to a BCS Title Game, it’s just hard not to love the ‘Riverboat Gambler’ and his coaching style. Whatever his personality though, his teams are tough, fast, and smart–the traits that make the SEC the dominant force that it is. Contrary to Saban, Les is the kind of coach you want to talk football with after a couple doses of bourbon.
Saban and Miles, while creating one of the most captivating yearly rivalries in college football, have earned the respect of the rest of the conference–along with the nation as well.
Bielema will have a long way to go if he wants to reach the level of his cohorts. Some people saw the addition of Bielema to the SEC West as maybe completing somewhat of a “holy trinity” of college coaching. Regardless of his attitude, it’s hard to ignore the coaches consistency and accomplishments during his tenure at Wisconsin.
There’s certainly a good chance that Bret Bielema will turn the Razorbacks into a contender once again. They were headed in that direction before former head coach Bobby Petrino decided it’d be neat to take a woman, other than his wife, for a joyride on his bike.
What will be most interesting to see, however, is how potential success from Bielema will be received. Well, outside of people that scream “Woo Pig Sooie” when they wake up every morning, that is.