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Is Arkansas’ Bielema A Fish Out Of Water?

fish-out-of-waterWhen the out-of-nowhere news of Bret Bielema’s move from Wisconsin to Arkansas first leaked out a year ago, there were gasps from the Dells to the Ozarks.  How in the world did Razorback AD Jeff Long pull off such a coup?

Of the four SEC jobs open, Arkansas scored the man with the best track record as a head coach.  Easily.

Bielema was no up-and-comer.  He was a seven-year vet.  He hadn’t won at a small school, he’d won at one of the top programs in the country.  The 43-year-old had earned three Rose Bowl berths in a row at Wisconsin.  he’d put together a 12-win season, two 11-win seasons, and one 10-win campaign.

Put simply, Bielema was a home run hire.

But to date, he’s looked like a home run hitter in Triple A ball, not the majors.  And that’s not just a knock on his record to date.

You know the situation in Fayetteville this year.  The Hogs entered the season with a roster built to play Bobby Petrino’s spread passing game.  Their defense had never been a strong point under their ex-coach (or under interim coach John L. Smith last season).  A new quarterback would have to be broken in to boot.

So it’s way too early to doubt Bielema’s ability to coach.  Even if his first Arkansas team is 3-7 on the year, 0-6 in the SEC (for the first time ever), and riding a seven-game losing streak.  Such a skid matches the worst runs in school history.

In its last seven games UA has lost by four to Rutgers, by 12 to Texas A&M, by 20 to Florida, by 45 to South Carolina, by 52 to Alabama, by 18 to Auburn, and by 10 to Ole Miss over the weekend.  The Razorbacks are last in the SEC in scoring offense and 13th in scoring defense.

Yes, they’re bad.  Injuries haven’t helped.  But Bielema knows how to coach.  We just wonder if he’s ready to coach in the SEC.

Dragging behind Bielema like a Dickensian chain is his famous February of 2012 comment:

 

“I can tell you this, we at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC — in any way, shape or form.”

 

Bielema was hot and bothered by newly-arrived Ohio State coach Urban Meyer daring to break a gentleman’s agreement that Big Ten coaches would not recruit kids already committed to other Big Ten teams.  But the “in any way, shape or form” part of the quote suggests Bielema wasn’t a fan of Mike Slive’s conference in many, many areas… not just its recruiting tactics.

Since arriving down South, Bielema has blown his cool at SEC Media Days when he overreacted to a quote from Gus Malzahn that was taken out of context.  He’s broken an SEC rule by talking about an alleged Auburn rule violation regarding the exchange of game tape.  The guy clearly has issues with Gus Malzahn.  Last week he said he wasn’t thrilled with the hotel situation in Oxford, Mississippi as his team would have to bus an hour-plus from Memphis for the game.  Specifically he noted “the location of some of these universities and the towns around them.”

“Small things, one and all,” will say the folks in the plastic Hog hats.  But we’re not so sure.  In fact, we’re starting to think a do-over is in order from our June view that Bielema would be the new SEC hire most likely to have long-term success.  Oh, he could still be that guy.  He did win all those games at Wisconsin.  But he just doesn’t seem to fit the Southeastern Conference.  At least not yet.  Which seems obvious in hindsight when tied to his statement that he wanted nothing to do with the league just 20+ months ago.

From that comment to the thin skin displayed at Media Days to his disapproval of some SEC schools’ locations in small towns, Arkansas’ new coach seems like he’s got a bigger learning curve than one would have thought at first blush.  Toss in the fact that Bielema’s current class of commitments is ranked #36 nationally by Rivals.com (13th best in the SEC and 10 spots behind Wisconsin) and there’s added reason for concern.

Bielema was never a top o’ the line recruiter in Madison.  With his style of play — smashmouth on offense, solid on defense — he’ll have to lure more talent to Arkansas in the SEC than he ever did to Wisconsin in the slower Big Ten.

Hey, we’re not calling Bielema a bad hire at this juncture.  It’s way, way, way too early for that.

But we do believe he may have been a fish-out-of-water hire.  Because of that, it appears his adjustment to life in the Southeastern Conference will take a bit longer than we expected.  And certainly longer than Razorback fans anticipated.

 


37 comments
GrimFees
GrimFees

LOL.  Wisconsin won in spite of fat boy, not because of him.  Terrible hire for Wisconsin, and an even worse hire for Arkansas who won't be able to work around a terrible coach and recruiter as well as Wisconsin did.   This fat clown will be kicked to the curb after a few 3 or  4 win seasons at Arkansas.   Meanwhile WI will be winning 10+ games each of those seasons.

dwp007
dwp007

I think Bielema will get the job done at Arkansas, though he inherited quite a project with the Petrino debacle followed by John L. Smith.  It all starts with recruiting and the results will have to be considerably better than his past performances in Wisconsin. He has some very capable recruiters on staff, however. In the SEC the quarterback position seems to be key. The Rafe Peavey kid out of Missouri should provide a good place to really begin a new era at Arkansas.

Enjoyed the article.

clutchiness
clutchiness

I think you're making a few assumptions  that don't really hold any water. The reason BB and Arkansas are struggling is not because they aren't in the Big Ten, or because every SEC team is "tough" (heck, tell that to the teams whipping Arkansas every week). 

Arkansas lacks depth and is very young; almost everyone on the team was recruited to play in a different system. BB has only ever really won games one way, has only coached at one school and building a program is quite a challenge. There was a mass exodus of assistants that alarmed him greatly; both because he depended on them to do the gameplanning, recruiting, etc and because it showed a lack of respect/loyalty that may have surprised him.

I would agree that his insecurity issues (which probably motivated his sudden departure) are concerning and won't go away, but that is the kind of stuff that fans don't want to hear when the team is losing. He also seems to talk about succeeding in the classroom, and...hey maybe you're right, he's not really an SEC guy?

To be more succinct, not sure he's a good fit anywhere as he left his goodwill at Wisconsin and has never been well-regarded by peers. I admire that he went all-in, but don't see how it would work -- Arkansas' situation requires a very good program builder & coach, and Bielema has never convinced many that he fits either of those notions.

Southern Gentleman
Southern Gentleman

Franktucker, you really have no clue about football. Gus is NOT coming to Arkansas! EVER! Change the decal on the rear window of your pick up truck to Auburn. We are living with BB whether you like him or not.

franktucker
franktucker

Let's just tell it like it really is. BB is completely out of his league. Arkansas requires a coach who understands we will not be able to run a Bama style playbook.

Arkansas will not be able to out recruit states that produce a ton of D1 talent. We do not have the population. Arkansas made a huge mistake not going after Gus Malzahn.

His offense allows a team to compete with anyone.

Southern Gentleman
Southern Gentleman

It has been a very long year at Arkansas to be sure. And, it looks like we will lose every SEC game this year. Coach BB may not have realized just how brutal the SEC actually is compared to the B1G. Now, he knows. Let us see how he responds with recruiting and performance over the next 2 years. We will probably be at the bottom again next year, I expect it. 2015 is the year we should see significant improvement. If not, he won't make it to 2016.

BoroMarkH
BoroMarkH

Seems a lot like Lane Kiffin at UT.  That guy just never got "it".  Southern culture and football are a totally different animal than the rest of the country.  Not always better, just different. 

lodger16x
lodger16x

After last season, a lot of writers, and not just ones in the South, were saying they could already tell Missouri would never compete in the SEC and the whole idea was a giant mistake. Less than a year later, MO is in the Top 10, so these seers turn their sites toward Bielema.  It took SC and ARK about 15 years to get really good in the SEC, and it might take ARK at least 2-3 yrs. to rebuild.

5LittlePiggies
5LittlePiggies

I haven't given up on him, yet.  He jumped into a shallow talent pool when he got here.  I bet he would admit that things were much worse than he thought when he got here.  I'm reminded of Dana Altman jumping ship less than 24 hours after being name men's basketball coach several years back after he saw just how far south that program had gotten.  However, his players have NOT given up.  In fact, I saw more fight out of them this Saturday than we saw all last year put together after the ULM debacle.  We know that he is trying to build that Stanford/Alabama type of football team, but time will tell if he can get the players he needs and develop them.  If he's playing his freshmen (his first recruiting class), then you can see him planning for the future, not just for next week.  I do agree that he needs to tighten the lips a little and quit ruffling so many feathers this early on.  It is not helping.  

the_voice
the_voice

Arkansas is deplete of talent. Petrino was an offensive guru but an abysmal recruiter. The offensive (two freshman starters) and defensive lines are adequate after a heavy dose of weightlifting and solid coaching over the last few months, but they are thin. Quarterback, linebacker, defensive back, and wide receiver are staffed by Sun Belt level talent. Tight end is OK due to a freshman standout. Running back is the only position of strength, with half the RB duo being a freshman. 

The fans believed that the team would rebound to something closer to the top 10 finishes of 2010 and 2011. The thought was that 4-8 in 2012 was all about coaching. Fans often don't have a clear picture of reality (after all, the word "fanatic" doesn't describe an analytical person).

The coaching staff is excellent, both at recruiting and development, but making a silk purse out of a sow's ear is not in their skill set. They've been reduced to putting lipstick on a pig this year.

MikeGilmer
MikeGilmer

Time will tell on Bielema.  He inherited a damaged program.  Smith was a disaster.  Petrino was an offensive genius but only a mediocre recruiter.  Even Saban only went 7-5 his first year at Bama and he inherited a fair amount of talent (Shula led Bama to a 10 win season just two years before Saban arrived).  I think Bielema needs to keep his mouth shut, double down on recruiting and coaching, and see what he can do over the next 2-3 years.

the_voice
the_voice

@clutchiness I agree Bielema didn't have to build at Wisconsin, taking over a team that had finished 3rd in the then Big 11 the last two years under Alvarez. Still, first 3 times and second once in 7 seasons is pretty strong for a place without a long history of football excellence or much local talent to recruit. He did this as those assistants you mentioned moved to head coaching jobs (a good thing) and much higher paying assistant positions (a bad thing). Wisconsin greatly benefits financially from the Big 10's network, but chose not to put the money back into the coaching staff's salaries. That may have been a laudable stand to take as an institution of higher learning, but not for one wanting to be competitive nationally in football.

Is he insecure? Maybe, Clearly, though, he wanted a bigger stage than the Big 10 provides today. That doesn't sound insecure. Does he delegate to his assistants? Most good managers do, so he probably does. 

You are right about Arkansas needing a staff of strong recruiters and player developers, but the history of the program and the conference it is in places his current position being much stronger than what he had in Madison. For sure he won't lose valued assistants due to not being able to pay them competitively. We'll see in a couple of years how the hire plays out.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@clutchiness 

And I think you posted your comment without really reading the above post.  No one claimed he's losing because he's not in the Big Ten.  This had nothing to do with his wins and losses.  We state that he's obviously a good a coach and it's way too early to judge him at Arkansas. 

This piece simply stated that judging by his comments, he doesn't seem to be taking to the SEC right away.  And, with his style of play, he'll have to recruit well to win.  So far he's not got a great class lined up for 2014.  

Your entire first paragraph looks like you're taking some other arguments made by some other people and inserting them into our piece.  It also looks to me like you're a bitter Wisconsin fan who wanted to come down take a few knocks at the SEC... even if you had to rebut arguments that I didn't make.

But thanks for reading the site.  And tell the voices in your head I said hello.

John


franktucker
franktucker

@Southern Gentleman  I doubt he would myself. We had our chance and blew it. As far as experience goes I played 13 yr's total including college. How bout you. I suspect you might be a band guy, 

the_voice
the_voice

@BoroMarkH Kiffin is one of those folks who interviewed well and had a great family name, so he kept getting the job. Problem was, Kiffin wasn't a head coach. He failed with the Raiders and the Vols, but stayed one step of the sheriff until USC. Saban, Meyer, and Miles (6 of the last 7 national championships) aren't from the South, but they can coach anywhere. Given his record of success, I'm inclined to believe Bielema is more like them than Kiffin.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@lodger16x 

If we had said that Missouri would never compete in the SEC or if we turned "our sites toward Bielema" there would be a reason for your comment.  But we didn't.  We simply said it looks his acclimation to the SEC might take longer than we had initially suspected. 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

clutchiness
clutchiness

@the_voice @clutchiness What probably didn't get much play outside of Madison was Alvarez sharing that it's up to the head coach to share the coaching staff's bonus pool...UW was I think 6th out of 12 in staff pay, which is not great but hardly the reason that almost everyone left Bret to go into a shaky situation at Pitt with Paul Chryst. Where there is smoke, there's fire. Since Alvarez also stated that he'd never heard BB complain about asst pay before, I am prone to believe this was an excuse after the fact made by BB to try and justify leaving. At that point, you've already left so trying to trash the school to prove a point or whatever is what rankled Badger fans. Just go already.

I agree that he/Jen felt that they needed a bigger stage where he would not be in anyone's shadow. Rumors also that Jen didn't like bumping into so many of Bret's old "friends" in Madison. Heh.

romashkowi
romashkowi

@John at MrSEC @clutchiness John at MrSEC, good post, but your comment about @clutchiness being a "bitter Wisconsin fan" demonstrates that although you may know the SEC, you know next-to-jack about Wisconsin. The great majority of Wisconsin fans wanted to see a coaching change, given BB's longstanding and worrisome pattern of poor clock management, bad play calling, running up scores on opponents during blowouts (displaying poor sportsmanship AND putting starters at unnecessary risk of injury), and a general lack of creativity. The big turning point for many was the 2011 Rose Bowl against TCU, in which Bielema was utterly outcoached by Gary Anderson and lost the game with poor clock management. The following year in the Rose Bowl, on the last play of the game and going for the tie, BB called for a snap from center and Russell Wilson spike, with only 2 seconds remaining. Obviously, the offense could not set up in time AND snap/spike in such a short period of time, and the game was over with a wasted chance to tie. It was a shockingly terrible call... one of those plays that you can't believe is actually happening while you're watching it. Regardless, the only bitterness up here is that a head coach would actually leave his team before the biggest game of HIS PLAYERS' careers.

From a character standpoint, BB came off to many as being very arrogant. He was also well-known In Madison for regularly throwing back beers and chasing college tail when he was an assistant to Alvarez.

Finally, nobody up here in Sconnie has enough enmity for the SEC to actually take "knocks" at it. The SEC is a powerful effing conference, and we have enough to worry about up here with remaining successful in the Big 10 (or 12, 14, 17, or whatever the hell we are now...). Not only that, many of us truly wish Arkansas well... we also have experience with our program being at rock bottom, for many many years, and frankly I'd love to see an underdog whip LSU's ass.

Anyway, John, tell the voices in your head that next year will be better.

Southern Gentleman
Southern Gentleman

@franktucker @Southern Gentleman 

I could not play an instrument if my life depended on it. I did play jr. high, high school, and 2 years of college football. And I repeat, Gus is NEVER coming to Arkansas. He has as much chance of being introduced as Arkansas's head coach as Jon Gruden does.

the_voice
the_voice

@GrimFees @the_voice @clutchiness Grim, we do agree on a few things. Arkansas is unremarkable outside of it's conference most years. My point is that over the last ten years, the same can be said for 12 of the 14 BIG schools; the exceptions being OSU and Wis (during the Bielema era when OSU was weak). 

It would be great if Anderson has much success. With the BIG's new divisional alignment, somebody has to win the west (how long will Neb keep Pelini?). I would also be great if someone in the BIG challenged Meyer as the best coach in the league (by a mile at this point). I've never been a fan of prohibitive favorites like OSU, and Meyer is so two faced.

Bielema's strength at Wisconsin was getting average talent to perform above average (J.J. Watt as exhibit #1). This was a constant as assistants came and went, moving on to more lucrative venues than Wisconsin. I don't know if he is a recruiter, because I don't know how easy it is to get four and five star out of state kids exited about playing in Madison. (Madison is a nice town, but my son-in-law passed on a job there that would have paid him 50% more so he could stay in Atlanta. Too cold and snowy for that southern boy. That may be part of the BIG problem.) For whatever reason, he didn't get those kids, which is the difference between his tenure and what Meyer is accomplishing in Columbus. He appears to be at least an adequate recruiter. He has hired a coaching staff that certainly can recruit, and Fayetteville is a nice town, too. Moderate four season weather will appeal to the recruits, as well the new football center. (http://www.arkansasrazorbacks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=208478061) Bielema will have the tools for success, but the collection of manure he is coaching currently would have difficulty in the MAC or Sun Belt. They'll suck next year while facing ten 2013 bowl teams (there's a schedule you won't see any of the BIG, ACC, Pac 12, or Big 12 members playing).

AD Jeff Long recently passed on an opportunity to move to Texas, providing stability to the athletic program. He hired Bielema and will give him a long leash.  2015, 2016, and probably 2017 will become the measuring sticks for Bielema at Arkansas.

GrimFees
GrimFees

@the_voice @GrimFees @clutchiness To address two of the points you raised, specifically.  My point exactly is that Bielema is NOT a premiere coach, by any stretch.  This is evidenced by too many terrible coaching gaffs on a national stage and by his willingness to take an obvious coaching  gig downgrade (even if the conference itself was an upgrade).  I can understand why an Arkansas fan might want to ignore the evidence and put his fingers in his ears and say "la la la, I can't hear you..." though.

Also, as I already pointed out, you only need to go back 13 years before Nebraska has more success than Arkansas in the last 4, less that for Illinois, Penn State, and Michigan, and barely more than 4 years for Wisconsin or Iowa to upstage Arkansas.  

You continue to make my main point in spite of yourself...which is that Arkansas is a mediocre football program on the level of an Illinois or Iowa.  A non-entity and completely unremarkable outside it's own conference.

GrimFees
GrimFees

@the_voice @GrimFees @clutchiness   At the end of the day I doubt we disagree on that much really.  I would only say that Wisconsin is towards the top of BIG (top 25%) based on their last 20 years of work.  Arkansas?  Well, maybe just barely outside the top half of the SEC, looking in. 

It remains to be seen if two years in the Top 10 4 years ago has any lasting significance.  If Ark starts getting 8+ win seasons in 2-3 years and maintain that for a decade, then maybe you are right and Bielema is a decent coach and recruiter (he will never be great in my mind based on too many coaching gaffs in big games). 

Maybe that extra million per year spent by a low to middling SEC team really is significant.   I think my instincts are more likely to come pass, though, i.e., 

1. That Bielema will put together 3 or 4 losing, bowl-less seasons before he is shown the door, 

2. That Anderson is a step up and will have have even more success than Bielema, 

3. That Michigan, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are all better coaching gigs than Arkansas based on everything except 2010 and 2011 and based on the next 5 years (I predict).   

Let's see where Wisc, Neb, Mich, and Ark all are in 5 years.  I don't mind eating crow if I am wrong on some counts.  

the_voice
the_voice

@GrimFees @the_voice @clutchiness You're recruiting 16 to 18 year old kids. They have no memory of anything over 10 years ago. They like shiny new facilities with fancy locker rooms and training rooms. The best ones all think they will be stars in the NFL in 5 years. They will make your program great or terrible in the future.

Without premier coaches and facilities you won't get the best players. You will be what Arkansas was between 1970 and 2000. You will be what Nebraska and Tennessee have been for the last 10 years, which is mediocre. You will have your fans wanting to create a coaching carousel.

I'm not sure why, but I get you don't like Bielema. Alvarez' hand picked successor had high coach turnover due to low salaries and wasn't recruiting to a Mecca of college football. Three Rose Bowls in 7 years didn't impress you. That's fine. If, after he clears the decay left by Petrino, he doesn't win at Arkansas in two to three years your evaluation of his skills will be justified. Given your perception of the Arkansas football program, if he does win consistently in two to three years I'm certain you'll be calling for him to be named national coach of the year. Either way time tells.

Arkansas and Wisconsin are peers of sorts. Both are middle of the pack programs that have occasionally risen up. Wisconsin's all time winning percentage is 57.4% while Arkansas' is 59.2% The difference, of course, is that rising up in the BIG is substantially easier than it is in the SEC. For  becoming nationally relevant, there is no comparison. It's like Sinatra singing about New York. "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere". As bad as they have been the last two years, Arkansas has been in the top 10 regular seasons final rankings twice in the last four years. How many years back in history would we have to go to say the same thing about Iowa . . . or Illinois . . . or Michigan . . . or Penn State  . . . or Nebraska? For Wisconsin we only go back 4 years as Bielema was the coach.

GrimFees
GrimFees

@the_voice @GrimFees @clutchiness I graduated from Nebraska in 96.  I am first and foremost a B8/B12 fan.  Although, I guess now that my Alma Mater is BIG I have some sympathies in that direction.  Not much, though. Arkansas is mediocrity incarnate whether you look at the entire BCS run from it's inception or the last 30 years.  They *dectract* from any arguments that the SEC is best, rather than add to them.  

Arkansas may throw more money at their football program than any Big Ten team except for OSU but it hasn't gotten them much.  Let's see how much it gets them over the next few years. I would be willing to bet a paycheck that Arkansas has losing records (both overall and SEC) for the next 3 seasons and that Bielema will be gone.  He is a bad coach who lucked into a sweet set of circumstances at Wisc.     

Wisc, Mich, Nebraska, Penn State, Illinois, and Iowa have all done more than Arkansas since the BCS started (and with less money according to your own arguments).  All but Iowa and Illinois are coaching upgrades (and even they would be a lateral move rather than a downgrade).  Only someone who is buried deep within SEC country would claim otherwise.   Arkansas is at the lower and of the middle of the SEC...on par with an Illnois or Iowa.   .

the_voice
the_voice

@GrimFees @the_voice @clutchiness Sorry, but I grew up a Nebraska fan when they were in the Big 8. Nebraska (or Michigan, or Michigan State, or Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania State) has slipped into mediocrity. All are great brands whose quality has diminished over time. (So how do I say MSU is faded glory when they are 11-1, a division champion, and #10 in the latest BCS poll? Fair question. It comes down to a coach and his staff overachieving with the limited resources they are provided. I feel the same about Bielema at Wisconsin. When a league is weak, there will be some teams who have records that are boosted artificially by the weakness of their league brethren. After all, someone has to win the game. That doesn't make them football powerhouses, though. I think it is fair to say that Nebraska wouldn't have been 8-4 in the SEC this year, as an example.)

I have very little memory of Arkansas before they moved to the SEC. I don't believe Arkansas is a football powerhouse. It's just a mid level SEC team. I don't diminish the Rose Bowl; I just wish the BIG would make that game competitive with the Pac 12 (or, if that isn't possible, could we get a competitive game on TV opposite the RB?).

As far as history, several Big 10 teams have great ones. So does Army. So what? Tennessee fans like to believe they are a program waiting to be revived. Maybe they are, but they haven't been relevant during the time their recruits can remember. The same can be said for a number of BIG programs. All kidding aside, the BIG could turn this around in a few years. The resources are available, just not the commitment to use them. At this point, it's the one BIG and the 11 (13) not so BIGs.

There is one BIG institution with the facilities and financial commitment to the coaching staff that is better than Arkansas. OSU. That didn't use to be the case several years ago. That inconvenient truth is overlooked by BIG fans who like to arrogantly look down upon the mid tier SEC schools. Looking down your nose at their academics is fair, but if I'm a football coach looking to play on the big stage, the BIG isn't where I would want to be. If you're a BIG institution graduate, use the analytical skills they taught you in school and deal with today's reality instead of reliving the ancient history (to a recruit) when your league was in its' glory. (By the way, as you look down your nose at SEC institution's academics, so too does the Ivy's graduates look down on the BIG academically. Just sayin'.)

GrimFees
GrimFees

@the_voice @GrimFees @clutchinessIf you can remember seeing the great Arkansas football teams in the SWC from the sixties, seventies, and early eighties I could maybe give a pass for imagining that Arkansas is a football powerhouse.  You have to wax nostalgic and ignore that last 30 years though.  

Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State all have many more BCS bowl appearances (even lowly Penn State, Illinois, and Iowa have more).  Even if you don't want to count the Rose Bowl (BIG haters never do), Wisconsin, Michigan, OSU, and Nebraska all have much better records if you go back to the beginnings of the BCS and don't just cherry pick the last 10 years.  If you count the the last 30 years Arkansas is blown away by nearly half the schools in the Big Ten.  There is simply no way to spin the numbers and not have Wisc, OSU, Michigan, and Nebraska not be significant coaching upgrades from Arkansas.  Many would even consider Penn State an upgrade, a few might even say Iowa is an upgrade...I didn't include those two because I didn't want to seem too homerish (a wasted effort.) and because of Penn St. recent troubles...but honestly, even Iowa has two Orange Bowl appearances and 2 top 10 BCS finishes in the last 11 years .  Nobody is claiming that BIG is better than the SEC (especially in the last 20 years), but unless you go back 30+ years (when Arkansas wasn't even in the SEC), Arkansas is just a distraction from any discussions about the strength of the SEC or good football programs in general.



the_voice
the_voice

@GrimFees @the_voice @clutchiness I know it feels that way to a BIG fan, but here are the BIG's season ending BCS top 10 finishers over the last 10 years: OSU - 7 times, Wis - 3 times, MSU 2 times (includes this year, although they will drop out if they lose to OSU Sat.), PSU 2 times, and MIch 1 time; total of 15 times with half being OSU and 5/12 teams represented at least once. Contrast that with the SEC: Ala - 5x, Aub - 5x, Fla - 4x, Ga - 4x, LSU - 4x, SC - 3x, Ark - 2x; with TAM and MO both having one over the last two years for a total of 29 (dominated by no one) with either 9/14 represented at least once or 7/12 represented at least twice.

Only 2 BIG schools have more top ten finishes than Arkansas, OSU and Wis (Bielema coached two of those three top 10 teams). PSU matched their total and MSU may this year. Michigan and Nebraska haven't. There are two ways to be a top ten team today; either dominate your conference or be competitive in the SEC. There is that much difference. Having a full 100,000 seat stadium doesn't do it (ask Tennessee). Having an awesome brand name and proud tradition doesn't do it (ask Nebraska). The BIG has half the equation (fabulous income) but you have to reinvest that income to achieve results. To date, OSU is the only BIG school doing that, and it shows on the field. The BIG resembles the ACC when it comes to football. Maryland and Rutgers should feel very comfortable in their new surroundings.

GrimFees
GrimFees

@the_voice @clutchiness Michigan, OSU, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are all upgrades from Arkansas.  At one time, Penn State would have been also.

the_voice
the_voice

@clutchiness @the_voice Before this year started, Sam Pittman, whom Bielema had hired as his offensive line coach, was approached by Nick Saban for the same position at Alabama. Arkansas ponied up $500k/year to keep Pittman, considered by many as at least one of the best O line coaches in college. That made Arkansas' assistants' salary pool $3,225,000 for 2013. Wisconsin's salary pool for assistants is $2,495,000, fourth highest in the BIG and up from $1.973 million in 2012, which was the seventh-highest mark in the conference. Good for Alvarez for adjusting the salaries upward this year, but they're still at only about 77% of what the Razorbacks are committing to that area.

Bielema was quoted while at Wisconsin that staff turnover was a good thing. He also was quoted when hired to the Arkansas job that he was there to win now. Nobody really believes that heavy staff turnover is good, and no one who knows anything about coaching football would have possibly thought Arkansas' talent could have a winning record against their schedule in 2013. People do try to put the best face upon a bad situation, much like Alvarez saying he had no idea that assistant pay was a problem for his head football coach.

I still have no idea whether Bielema and the Arkansas job are a match. I am convinced that Alvarez hired an excellent head coach when he first became AD, as proved over seven successful years in Madison. And I am convinced that fans in smaller markets don't deal well with those that choose to leave to better themselves. Arkansas football isn't USC, Texas, Alabama, or Notre Dame; but it is a substantial upgrade over any BIG destination not in the state of Ohio. (By the way, I'm not a fanatic of any team, but Nebraska is my favorite team. Sometimes the truth hurts, clutchiness.)

the_voice
the_voice

@romashkowi @John at MrSEC @clutchiness Bielema is blunt/arrogant/combative and would benefit from toning those characteristics down some. When it comes to game coaching, few coaches walk on water (two fine coaches, Saban and Malzahn, both tried to give away their game last Sat. night - with Saban finally succeeding at it). Running up the score? What coach doesn't? (What team in 2013 had wins of 45-0, 48-0, 41-10, 35-6, and 51-3? Why Wisconsin. Of course none of these scores were run up.)

I believe Gary Anderson will prove to be a fine coach for Wisconsin. For all I know he may abstain from alcohol and sex too. That seems to be important in the beer, brat, and cheese belt. (Or is Wisconsin now in the Bible belt? Better daaa-ble check that.)

franktucker
franktucker

@Southern Gentleman @franktucker  Unfortunately I think your right about BB tenure. I could give many reasons but wont on such a open forum. Ill just say what everyone can see. There is no signs of improvement  with our present personal and we are last in the SEC in recruiting at this point. There are definitely other problems he has but that's a private matter at this point. May the tides turn and we never loose another game. 

Southern Gentleman
Southern Gentleman

@franktucker @Southern Gentleman 

I have no idea why you have such a desire for joining the Gus bus. His team at Auburn is comprised of players he recruited 2 years ago but will still lose to Bama by 20+. I agree he is a good coach, but he is not OUR coach. Therefore, I am behind Bielima 100%. I wish that you would show support for the coach Arkansas has and not the one that we do not have. BB is going NO WHERE for at least 4 years.

franktucker
franktucker

@Southern Gentleman @franktucker   Never say never. Arkansas is home and he and his wife still have family here. With that being said I think we would need to get a new AD maybe someone that has ties to Gus. We could maybe kill two birds with one stone ].

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