Yeah, that was a goof by Bielema. You also touched on my pet peeve about Saban. I grew up in B'ham in the late 60s. As a young kid I watched Bear's Sunday show breaking down the game from the day before. I can't tell you how many times, after a loss, the Bear would say variations of this: "I just didn't do a good job getting the boys ready to play this week." (And he had plenty of opportunities to say it in '69 and '70.) Never mind that he just didn't have the horses in his some years. He had a quote that summed it up: "If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you." I miss that.
After his team’s loss to Auburn, Alabama coach Nick Saban was taken to task by a few people who felt he didn’t take enough responsibility for the last-second kick return that cost his team the game. Some thought he threw his players under the bus by saying they didn’t do what they’d been taught to do on that final play.
Over the years South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier — both in Columbia and in Gainesville — has been known to push some blame toward his assistant coaches after losses. He did so after this year’s Georgia game, saying he’d have to start helping out his defensive staff. Famously, he once called an assistant into a postgame press room so the guy could explain his thinking of an in-game decision that had backfired.
Well, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has now taken the blame game to a celestial level. In an interview with the Associated Press, Bielema laid his team’s 2013 woes at the feet of the Almighty. Now that’s a new one. Asked about his team’s 3-9 season, the first-year coach said:
“It is what it is. I don’t have a reaction one way or the other. Obviously (I) didn’t want to go 3-9, but it was the reality of what it was. For whatever reason, the good Lord decided us to be that way. There’s a certain amount of teaching that can come from a win, but I do think you learn more from losses than you do from wins.”
Huh, wait, what? ”The good Lord decided us to be that way?”
Props to Bielema for being a religious man, but his religion is more than a little bit different from my own. I — and yes, this will make a few of you mad — am not a big believer in destiny. If I’m just a chess piece that the Lord above wants to move around at his own whims, I don’t see the point in worship. I’d be nothing more than a pawn. Whether I worshipped or not, he’d have already made that call. In fact, with that kind of God all of my decisions would have already been made long ago as part of some grand plan. Free will would be out the window (or off the cloud, or whatever).
Personally, I have a hard time believing that our Maker created us for the purpose of playing out some predetermined script. That kind of thinking would mean the good Lord made an Adolf Hitler so he could exterminate millions of people. And then He decided which children would be gassed to death by the madman he’d created.
Not sure about you, but that doesn’t sound like any kind of God I’d want to worship. In fact, that doesn’t sound very God-like at all. It sounds mean. Its sounds simplistic. Why if that’s the way the Lord works then he’s basically just a kid in the back yard pulling the antennae off insects. And we’re the insects.
So obviously Bielema and I clearly have different views of humanity’s role in the universe. He sees destiny. I see free will. And there are millions who would back each side. So be it.
I do find the idea that God was worried about the final record of the 2013 Arkansas football team insulting (when it was clear he was really watching over Auburn this season). To say the Lord wanted the Razorbacks to finish 3-9 is a cosmic copout. Doesn’t the Creator have better things to do than cause the Hogs to give up a 90+ yard drive in the final minutes at LSU? Was the Almighty responsible for all the injuries that befell the Razorbacks this year? If so, I think that would make him one pretty cruel Dude. And if He’s the one who made sure LSU’s Anthony Jennings found Travin Dural for that 49-yard game-winning touchdown pass, well, that’d literally be adding insult to injury.
No, I’m the guy who wonders what God had against the other boxer whenever a fighter says, “I want to thank the Lord for his victory.” I’m the fella who wonders what God had against the other team whenever some kicker points to the sky and says, “God was with us today.” Didn’t the Man Upstairs also create the other boxer and the folks on the other team?
And what message does that send to grieving parents who lost their child to cancer? Saving the life of a child isn’t as important as making sure Arkansas falls to Mississippi State in overtime? I find that to be as ridiculous as it is cold. That’s just not the God that I know.
Typically, we steer clear of religion (and politics) at this site. But Bielema’s comments — at least in my view — were so goofy that I felt they deserved to be discussed. I felt I had to point out the absolute silliness of a coach blaming the Almighty for his 3-9 season, as if there were nothing Bielema, his staff or his players could have done differently to improve that record.
Hmmm. Wait a second. I felt I had to write this.
Maybe I was destined to do so.