Bret Bielema brought hope to the Arkansas Razorbacks football program after the unexpected-though-it-probably-shouldn’t-have-been fall of former Head Coach Bobby Petrino.
From what Arkansas fans knew of him, he was a nice, friendly, teddy bear of a guy with a love for his players and a will to win.
Hog Callers weren’t fooling themselves when Athletic Director Jeff Long announced him as a replacement. They knew that he was entering one of the toughest conferences in college football with only a decent resume from the University of Wisconsin (68 wins, 24 losses) to prepare him for the position.
Still, there was something exemplary about this man’s character and affability after the character-crashing fall of Petrino.
Most Razorback fans were cautiously optimistic going into his first season and were prepared to handle some bumps along the way.
And bumps are exactly what they did experience in that 2013 season.
Bret Bielema finished 3-9 overall with a 0-8 conference record. Then 2014 came and things got a little better.
The Hogs scrapped their way through a 13-game run, finishing 7-6 with a 31-7 win over former Southwestern Conference (SWC) rivals, the Texas Longhorns.
Symbolically, it was a moment of hope and momentum that had many predicting Arkansas to be the dark horse frontrunners of the SEC Western Division.
Following some preseason turmoil, however, in which the Razorbacks lost running back Jonathan Williams due to injury and saw tight end C.J. O’Grady arrested for DWI, there started to appear a few chinks in the armor.
The Hogs have yet to emerge with anything positive outside of a 24-20 win over the Tennessee Volunteers.
They lost to Toledo after Bret Bielema took a shot at Ohio State’s strength of schedule. They lost to Texas Tech after he dissed the spread offense and riled up Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury, who had this to say via SBNation.
“At the Texas high school coaches convention this summer, he said, ‘If you don’t play with a fullback, we’ll kick your a**. If you throw it 70 times a game, we’ll kick your a**.’ He just got his a** kicked twice in a row, and probably next week by A&M, as well. So, that did feel good.”
Kingsbury’s words, while not prophetic in the a**-kicking department, did successfully forecast a loss. A&M beat the Razorbacks 28-21 in overtime.
And then came Alabama. While the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide would not be able to successfully dispose of the Hogs until the fourth quarter, Bret Bielema did himself no favors with the now-infamous sideline flop heard ’round the world.
Deadspin pointed out that the initial personal foul penalty called on the Crimson Tide looked legit, an alternate angle revealed just how immature and frat boyish Bret Bielema could be.
— Anthony Jacks (@Coach_Jacks) October 12, 2015
Thus far, Bielema has not responded to the clear shenanigan that he pulled instigating Cam Robinson.
He probably should, but even if/when he does, it will not negate the fact that there is no excuse for this sort of thing coming from a head football coach.
And when you look at his 12-19 overall record as the Hogs head coach through two and a half seasons — especially that 3-16 conference black mark — it’s getting harder to justify keeping him around.
As a Razorbacks fan living in Arkansas, I’ve seen a disturbing amount of silence regarding his stupid behavior, so I’ll be the first that I know of to say it.
Bret Bielema, it’s time to go. You may not have crashed a motorcycle with a sex buddy on the back that you hired because you were intimate with her — see Petrino — but you’re adding nothing of value to the program, and what you did Saturday was inexcusable.
While the “flop” may not be a fireable offense, it doesn’t help in conjunction with everything else going on with your program.
As one commenter on Bleacher Report pointed out, “You’ll never see [Nick] Saban or [Urban] Meyer doing any of this bush league garbage. They don’t need this crap to try to compete.”
But what do you think, readers? Do you think Bret Bielema’s time is up? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image of Jen / Bret Bielema via Twitter]