Arkansas Razorbacks: Bret Bielema Already Wearing on Hogs Fans

Beth Hall, USA TODAY SPORTS

Beth Hall, USA TODAY SPORTS

When the Arkansas Razorbacks announced that they had hired Bret Bielema away from the Wisconsin Badgers, nearly everyone in Fayetteville celebrated the hire and looked forward to a bright future. Athletic Director Jeff Long had just signed a coach that had taken his team to three straight Rose Bowls, which gave Razorback fans cause to call the Hogs.

However, year one of the Bielema Era proved to be a disaster. After winning three straight games to open the season, Arkansas lost its last nine, including all eight Southeastern Conference games. The team was competitive at times, but the wins didn’t come, which led to a frustrating feeling at the end of a 3-9 season.

There were bright spots during the largely dismal season. Running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams combined to rush for nearly 2,000 yards. The season ended with a seven-point overtime loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs and a 31-27 loss to the LSU Tigers, so the Hogs were certainly competitive in those games.

As Bielema continues to build the program, there was a sense of optimism about the upcoming 2014 season. But the offseason has not been good to Bielema so far.

Arkansas signed the nation’s 29th-best recruiting class in February, which sounds really great, until looking further into the numbers. The Razorbacks’ class was just the 11th-best in the SEC, and only the sixth-best in the Western Division (ahead of Mississippi State). Bielema’s class included only three players who were rated as four-star prospects by Rivals.com. Not exactly the type of recruiting haul that Arkansas needed.

Then, more bad news came. Bielema, along with Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, both publically pledged their support for an NCAA rule that would slow down the high-speed, no-huddle offenses that have become the norm in college football. Both Bielema and Saban claimed that player safety was the issue because tired defensive players were more likely to get injured than fresh players, according to the coaches.

But Bielema took it a step further. When asked what proof he had of these injury claims, he said “death certificates”, referring to Teddy Agu, a player for the California Golden Bears who died last season.

This comment did not sit well with nearly anyone, and Bielema later apologized. However, the comment showed that Bielema will say anything at any time, which he has proven time and again.

He took shots at Saban’s Big Ten Conference record last season (Saban was 23-16-1 as head coach of the Michigan State Spartans from 1995-99, while Bielema was 37-19 with Wisconsin). He also accused the Auburn Tigers of manipulating game film. And then, with his offseason comments, he once again alienated a group of people.

Bielema’s act is already starting to wear thin in Fayetteville, along with the rest of the SEC. The one thing he can do to quiet his critics is win, but that appears to be a tall task for this team at this time. Otherwise, Bielema should work on keeping his comments in check, which doesn’t seem likely at this point. But if one of those two things, or both, don’t happen soon, Bielema’s stay in the South could be a short one.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

Related:

Arkansas’ Bret Bielema Doesn’t Need Wins To Make Headlines Anymore

Arkansas Razorbacks Continue to Have Issues

Arkansas Razorbacks Hope to Put Disappointing 2013 Behind Them

Around the Web

  • Justin

    Not many people use Rivals anymore…247 is the better recruiting service

    He will get until at least 2015. Our 2015 class right now is ranked in the top 10 and has potential to be our best since we joined the SEC. People like to hate on him after his first year but Petrino went 5-7 his first year…and no one says Sonny Dykes sucks all of a sudden since he went 3-9. Bielema inherited a team with almost zero talent. He is stockpiling OL and RBs and our OL should be nasty in the next few years…his system takes longer to implement than a pass first, spread type coach

    • bsa32

      AMEN!!!

  • Razorba

    Go Hogs He is doing fine…..The reporter needs to get a real job!!!

    • smartytude

      Agree, but who would hire this Letch?

  • Justin Fowler

    The media hated Bobby Petrino

  • bsa32

    It’s ridiculous that the only thing everybody keeps talking and/or writing about is the win loss record without doing any kind of research on why Bielema had such a rough year in his first season at Arkansas. Well, I can tell you why, he didn’t have the players to compete in any conference, much less the sec. I’m not talking about recruiting rankings either, I’m talking about how more than half of the junior and senior classes aren’t there anymore and the other half has never panned out on the field. Bilema DID NOT recruit those classes so I don’t see how any of that is his fault. This is what he had to work with, a first year redshirt sophomore at qb who couldn’t even complete a pass the year before Bielema got here and who was injured, two true freshmen offensive linemen, a true freshman tight end, a redshirt freshman tight end, a walk-on tight end, a true freshman running back, a true sophomore running back, two senior wide receivers who had been back ups until 2013, a true sophomore wide receiver with no experience and a defense that has been terrible for the past five years. So, before passing judgement on coach Bielema how about doing a little bit of research to find out why he had such a bad season.

  • smartytude

    Semi-literate ‘articles’ on something called “Rant Sports” are definitely wearing on hog fans. Especially when they posit assertions without noting any sources, etc.