Bret Bielema of Arkansas just brought the curtain down on Day Three from Hoover, Alabama. The big points from the Arkansas coach:
* Another coach with a lengthy opening monologue, Bielema touched on the Razorbacks' 3-9 2013 campaign ("Take a minute, that's all we need"), before zipping through the positions on his team and the new coaches on his staff. That's as good a place to start as any. The coach didn't pull any punches when he stated plainly that the transition UA experienced on its staff "allowed me to improve our coaching staff in general." Don't let the door hit ya, fellas.
* Bielema feels his cornerback play will be the one of the most improved areas of his 2014 squad. He said that if he'd been able to see opponents' game plans last season they would have likely said "expose our corners whenever possible."
* Though winless in the SEC a year ago, Bielema feels his team is close to turning a corner. "If you asked my AD, I think he'd tell you that in every aspect other than wins, you can't do anything but be happy with what we've done." He believes the wins will come if his program continues to improve in every other category.
* Bielema: "Teams lose a game before you win it. And if you don't understand that it's because you're not a coach. There's a lot of times that you do things that prevent you from winning. Moreso than the team that executes (well)... As coaches we need to look at what we were asking our kids to do. If we can't do it, don't call it. Understand what our players can execute." Apparently there were three coaches on the defensive side of the ball who didn't do enough of that last season (at least in Bielema's eyes).
* If Texas A&M agrees to it, expect to see their game with Arkansas continue to be played in Arlington at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones is one of the "hugest" Razorback boosters going and he wants the game in his building. Bielema recruits the state hard in an effort to find "Tex-Hogs" for his team. In his words, being the only SEC school aside from A&M to be able to tell Texas kids they can play in their home state every year is a "huge recruiting advantage." For that reason, A&M might not be so keen to sign another deal placing the game in Arlington. Of course, if Jones pulls out his checkbook...
* As for Arkansas' new rivalry with Missouri which kicks off this year, Bielema is embracing it. "We've been told that we get to play Missouri as our permanent crossover. This year it's on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That's awesome."
* Bielema also said it's "awesome" that his team will face what's being called the #1 toughest schedule in America this fall. "Last year we were #5, so we wanted to move up," he joked.
* After a good, but long explanation of how he goes about finding and hiring new assistants, the questions everyone had anticipated came rolling in...
* Asked about his relationship and communication history with Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Bielema smiled. "I get what you guys try to do, that we don't necessarily see eye to eye on certain things... Gus runs an offensive system that I completely disagree with, but who can argue with the results? That makes me respect him even more." The Hogs' coach said he and Malzahn have spoken by phone a couple of times though never about player-safety issues. "I can't say we're breaking bread together, but I'm not throwing bread at him, or rocks or anything else." He handled that one well.
* Asked about his biggest culture shock in moving from the Big Ten to the SEC, the coach bluntly stated, "Winning and losing." After winning three Big Ten titles in a row, he won three games in one season in the SEC. "I didn't come here to lose... My heart knows Year Two will be better."
* Then came a question about Missouri's Gary Pinkel, who said earlier today that he believed the "player safety" part of the up-tempo offense discussion is fiction. Reminiscent of his "I'm not a comedian" remark at last year's Media Days event, Bielema said, "I'm more of a reality movie guy than fiction... Have I softened my view on player safety? No." He also made it pretty clear that the chatter about a 10-second substitution rule is not going to go away. He then added: "I know good fiction when I see it. I had to give you guys one to run."
* Still on the topic of the up-tempo attacks, Bielema said he really enjoyed coaching against that style. Why? "There's nothing better than to see a no-huddle team sitting on the sideline frustrated." The second-year coach then acknowledged that Arkansas will have to get better in all three phases of the game if he wants to shut down up-tempo attacks regularly.
* Bielema -- who was much more jovial than a year ago and who didn't lose his cool at any point -- gave an interesting answer when asked what he'd learned from a 3-9 season. "Be true to who you are... Change the little things, but don't change your core beliefs... Stick to your principles and do it better."
* Not a bad way to close out the day. Maybe Year Two is already off to a better start for Bielema.