Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Arkansas to practice in pads Thursday
The top-paid state employee is Bret Bielema, head football coach at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. His salary is $3.2 million this fiscal year.
FAYETTEVILLE First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema will see his team in pads for the first time today.
The practice, which is closed to the public, will be the team's last before the university's spring break. Arkansas will resume practices March 26.
Bielema spoke to the Greater Tulsa Razorback Club on Wednesday and said he has been pleased with his team through the first two practices of the spring season.
"Our kids are very willing," Bielema told the Tulsa World. "They are open to coaching. They're hungry. They are obsessed with doing things that we're asking them to do, even if it is taxing or exhausting."
Three days after leading Wisconsin to its third consecutive Big Ten championship, Bielema was hired by Arkansas last December, taking over a Razorbacks program that struggled to a 4-8 season after Bobby Petrino was fired in the off-season for misconduct.
"The last thing is they have an unsatisfied disappointment in the season a year ago," Bielema told the Tulsa World. "It shows up in everything they do. I have over 20 seniors when they came to Arkansas they were not 4-8 (caliber players). They had come to Arkansas to have success. That's a big part of what we will feed off in the future."
Bielema will speak to the local media Friday for the first time since the spring season began last weekend. Arkansas will also hold its Pro Day on Friday at the Walker Indoor Pavilion.