In Little Rock speech, Bret Bielema talks mentor, backup QB

By: Jeremy Muck
Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema speaks to the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at the Embassy Suites hotel in Little Rock.
Photo by Thomas Metthe
Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema speaks to the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at the Embassy Suites hotel in Little Rock.

This is the time of year, Bret Bielema usually makes a phone call to his former coach at Iowa, Hayden Fry.

Bielema, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville head football coach, told Little Rock Touchdown Club members Monday that he calls Fry every August to talk about the upcoming season.

This year, he told a soldout Embassy suites luncheon crowd of 500 the phone call was different.

Bielema said he was on his way to Frank Broyles' home to visit on Aug. 12 in Fayetteville when he called Fry, 88, a quarterbacks and running backs coach for Broyles at Arkansas in 1961 before he became head coach at SMU (1962-1972) and North Texas (1973-1978).

The longtime Hawkeyes coach (1979-1998) resides at an assisted living home in Texas, but he had a message for Bielema to tell Broyles.

"[Fry] said, 'You make sure you tell him, the effect he had on our coaching profession is profound,' " Bielema said, recalling Fry's words. " 'Everything I taught you, everything that you learned during our regime and has been passed down to so many different coaches is widespread.' "

Broyles, the longtime Arkansas football coach and athletic director, died Aug. 14 at age 92 from complications related to Alzheimer's disease.

The coaching trees for Broyles and Fry include several successful current and former NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision leaders.

In addition to Fry, former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, former Tennessee coach Johnny Majors and former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson are all part of Broyles' coaching tree.

Fry's coaching tree includes Bielema, Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder, former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, current Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and former Nebraska and current Youngstown State Coach Bo Pelini.

Bielema, who played for Fry at Iowa in 1989-1992 and was an assistant in 1994-2001 at the school, is proud to be in Fry's company. But he said his coach's words put a different spin on his relationship with Broyles.

"I always thought I was part of Hayden Fry's tree," Bielema said. "But I realized, in fatherly terms, Coach Broyles is my great grandfather."

Before Monday's speech, Bielema discussed the Razorbacks' backup quarterback situation with reporters in a news conference.

Bielema said the battle between Ty Storey and Cole Kelley to be behind senior quarterback Austin Allen on the depth chart will be a week-to-week situation. The Razorbacks are scheduled to release their depth chart Friday morning in advance of their season opener against Florida A&M on Aug. 31 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

"It's going to be a week-to-week competition," Bielema said. "One week, someone may prepare better than the other. Or, [one player's] game may suit someone's defense better than the other.

"They're both playing as well as they've ever played. I think it's from a built-in competition that already exists."

Bielema also announced Monday that freshman safety Montaric Brown was academically cleared by the NCAA to practice. Brown, from Ashdown, arrived in Fayetteville on Saturday and was scheduled to practice Monday with the Razorbacks. Fall semester classes began Monday and the roster was able to expand from 105 to 120 players.

Arkansas held a mock game Friday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, which was closed to the media. During the game, Bielema had his team practice running through the "A" in the south end zone because of ongoing construction in the north end zone.

"It's still going to be the A, but it will go the other way," Bielema said. "We're ambidextrous at Arkansas."

Sports on 08/22/2017

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