New Arkansas coach Bret Bielema took a shot at the SEC while he was coaching at Wisconsin about 14 months ago. He took a shot at the SEC’s overall strength again this weekend. He also managed to compare himself — favorably — to Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Now, his words about Saban don’t particularly read like a joke, but if he says he was kidding around, we’ll buy it.
But in trying to defuse his Saban joke yesterday via Twitter, he also chose to remind the world of his predecessor’s downfall. Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcycle and his career a year ago yesterday. And here’s Bielema’s tweet from late yesterday afternoon:
What a card.
Here’s guessing Petrino, his family, Jessica Dorrell, her family, her fiance, and his family appreciate Arkansas’ coach bringing that up again.
But what’s Bielema care? He’s a cocksure coach who won big at Wisconsin (though plenty of Badger fans reminded him he didn’t win as many Rose Bowls as Barry Alvarez had). Bielema also landed the job at Arkansas in part because he sent a letter to Razorback AD Jeff Long congratulating him for his firing of Petrino after his crash and for Long’s comments afterward. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that Bielema had no problem re-opening Petrino’s old wound.
Nowhere in the SEC rule book does it say a coach has to be a nice guy. Steve Spurrier’s been lippy over the years. Lane Kiffin flapped his gums for a year. Dan Mullen’s taken a helluva lot of shots at Ole Miss during his tenure.
But if Bielema’s going to joke about Saban’s record, kid about the SEC’s strength, and jest about a winning coach’s off-field downfall, he’d better win plenty of football games. His track record suggests he will. But he’s talking like a man who already has.