HOG CALLS:

Bielema could be coach at Arkansas for long haul

By: Nate Allen
Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --12/05/2012-- Bret Bielema, the new University of Arkansas head football coach is introduced by athletics director Jeff Long during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by Michael Woods
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --12/05/2012-- Bret Bielema, the new University of Arkansas head football coach is introduced by athletics director Jeff Long during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

— By today’s college football coaching standards, Bret Bielema almost qualifies as a stay-at home recluse.

Nine years at one place defies the norm in a profession changing addresses like Lady Gaga changes wardrobes.

After nine great years, which Bielema had at Wisconsin with two as the defensive coordinator under Barry Alvarez and seven as Alvarez’s successor, America’s dairyland overflows with sour cries over spilled milk following Bielema’s departure to Arkansas last week.

The sour cries would emanate from the Natural State just as bitterly had Bielema been here first as long and as successfully and then moved on to Wisconsin.

Fans and coaches tend to view the word “loyalty” with divergent definitions.

Fans demand loyalty from their coaches so long as the coaches are winning and popular.

Fade at either and the coach suddenly overhears fans wishing he would swap his “loyalty” for a change of address.

Coaches always arrive professing undying loyalty but seldom turn down another offer too good to refuse, especially if they feel the heat of their popularity cooling.

Even when secure, as Bielema obviously was at Wisconsin after winning three Big Ten championships, sometimes it’s simply wanting to experience something new in a setting.

“I just felt it was time for me to try and spread my wings and fly a little bit further,” Bielema said.

With six consecutive national championships in its league trophy case and Alabama representing the league in next month’s BCS Championship Game, the SEC is the place to be for a coach aspiring to win the best of the best.

“The opportunity to be in the SEC is just something I really wanted to do,” Bielema said. “I’m excited to work with the caliber of athlete the SEC can bring.”

He noted others from Big Ten backgrounds, most notably former Michigan State Coach Nick Saban (one national championship at LSU and two at Alabama) and Michigan alum Les Miles (a national championship at LSU), have impacted the SEC.

Bielema seems to have his reasons for change, perhaps not so apparent with some other changing jobs.

Nationally, some of this increasing climate for coaching changes likely is agent driven. Restless coaches means multiple clients become active in the coaching change domino effect.

However, anger over a coach’s “disloyalty” for moving on before told to move on has existed as long as the profession itself.

In Arkansas, there are likely some longtime fans still rankled that Bowden Wyatt, given a Cadillac for his surprising Southwest Conference championship in 1954, promptly motored to Tennessee to become his alma mater’s head coach.

In December 1957, Missouri fans blistered Arkansas for taking its job-hopping coach after just one year coaching the Tigers.

Old Mizzou fans may still smart that Frank Broyles left them, but they don’t much call him a job-hopper anymore.

From December 1957 until January 2008, Broyles was either the Razorbacks’ head football coach, athletic director or both and still serves Arkansas as athletic director emeritus.

Apparently, he is at Arkansas for the long haul.

Sports, Pages 15 on 12/11/2012

Discussion

Submit