One thing can be said about Arkansas Razorbacks new head coach Bret Bielema: he stays on message at all times. While this has been productive for him in the past and likely will be in the distant future, it’s not helping him right now.
Bielema has complained about the up-tempo offenses in the SEC and in all of college football, saying that these systems provide an unfair advantage to the offense and increase the likelihood of injuries to the defense. Bielema has been consistent in his statements and his opposition, staying on message the entire time.
The problem for Bielema arises this fall, when his undermanned team must face some teams that won’t mind running up the score on him if they have a chance. The primary example of that is South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier. Spurrier has never been one to call off the dogs, even when his teams have a big lead. His theory is that the defense has the opportunity to stop the offense, thus preventing further points on the board. And while Spurrier’s current offense isn’t really up-tempo, he might just run the score up on Bielema because he can.
Kevin Sumlin and his Texas A&M Aggies may also have a shot at putting up a lot of points against the Arkansas defense. With defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel under center, the Aggies’ offense should be one of the nation’s best.
Two other coaches on the Arkansas schedule would also like to stick it to Bielema. The first one, of course, is Auburn Tigers new head coach Gus Malzahn. It was Malzahn and Bielema who had a sparring match via the media at SEC Media Days last month. If Malzahn has the chance, he’ll continue to pile on the points against the Razorbacks.
And Ole Miss Rebels coach Hugh Freeze will likely do the same. While Bielema’s comments were not directly made about Freeze, his up-tempo offense does fit the bill of what Bielema was talking about, so the chance to pile on a little bit would not bother Freeze at all.
Give Bielema credit for standing up for what he believes in, especially as he begins his career at a new school. But look for a few opponents to run the score up on him this fall if they have a chance.