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Arkansas’ Bielema Reached Out To MSU’s Mullen After Tragic Player Death

writing-centerIt was a little more than three years ago when Mississippi State defensive end Nick Bell passed away from brain cancer.  The 20-year-old declined quickly after being diagnosed with the disease in September.  At the time, MSU’s Dan Mullen had this to say:

 

“Nick was a son and he was a brother to everyone in this football family.  I know he’s looking down on us right now and I’m sure he’s already been picked for a team up in heaven to play football again — the game that he loved.”

 

Mullen’s team lost its next two games to Alabama and Arkansas (by seven), but rebounded to beat Ole Miss and then routed Michigan in the Gator Bowl.

Mullen — whose team faces Arkansas on Saturday — remembers that new Razorback coach Bret Bielema reached out to him after Bell’s death.  At the time, Bielema was at Wisconsin and the two men had never met.

 

“You are surprised because you get a lot of calls and you have things that go on.  You get a call from Nick (Saban) and Les (Miles), but they’re in the conference wishing you the best.  To take time out and write a full letter out and send another thing with it, was a really neat deal… He probably doesn’t remember writing the letter but it did have an impact on me and that just shows the character he has as a coach and how all of us try to live our lives.”

 

Bielema does remember the letter he wrote.  Asked about it this week he said:

 

“I think as a coach you just always look for people that you admire the way they do things.  I remember watching (the Bell story on Television) and I’m like, ‘Man, that’s pretty impressive,’ and I just reached out to him.”

 

It’s good to hear these kinds of stories about SEC coaches, no?

 


2 comments
pdaddyslammy
pdaddyslammy

It certainly influences my opinion of Bret Bielema.  Honestly, I didn't know he had that in him - and shows how sound bites and my own biases based on being a Mizzou and Wisconsin fan (wife went to Madison) skewed my judgement.  Good for Bielema, it's good to maintain some humanity and caring even in the heat of intense competition that is NCAA football.

5LittlePiggies
5LittlePiggies

It is great to hear a story like that.  With as passionate as SEC fans are about their teams, it's a good reminder that these guys ARE people.  They have families, emotions, bills, bosses, and deal with life and death just like the rest of us.  The anonymous nature of message boards, twitter, radio shows, and other social media has led to vicious attacks on coaches and players, and in my opinion, it needs to stop.   Imagine if any one of us were doing our daily job (selling, teaching, writing, going to school, etc.), and someone walked off the street and started ranting at us about how terribly we do our job, and that they hope we got hit by a truck and died.  In my opinion, it's ok to talk about how things are going in your program and how one might make it better, and to be critical of obvious shortcomings, but calling for people to be fired, maimed, killed, or otherwise is going too far.  These guys have bosses, and if they don't win and put butts in the seats, they will get fired.  They don't need us sending them tweets telling them how terrible they are. I know it's a free country, but people have forgotten what respect and integrity means.  *exit soap box

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