Bret Bielema on being a new father

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Monday, July 10, 2017
NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Razorback football head coach Bret and Jen Bielema stand for a photo at the Razorback football kickoff luncheon Aug. 19 at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Razorback football head coach Bret and Jen Bielema stand for a photo at the Razorback football kickoff luncheon Aug. 19 at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.

— Arkansas coach Bret Bielema new dad status was a popular topic during the Razorbacks’ visit to SEC Media Days on Monday.

Bielema’s wife Jen gave birth to the couple’s first child, daughter Briella Nichole, at 4:44 a.m. Saturday. Bret Bielema announced the birth Saturday morning on Twitter in a tweet that has since received more than 1,000 retweets and 10,000 likes.

Bielema was showered with ‘congratulations’ and other well wishes throughout the day and also fielded questions about fatherhood while making the media day rounds.

Here is a sampling of some of what he had to say.

On accidentally FaceTiming SEC commissioner Greg Sankey shortly after his daughter’s birth:

“It was kind of funny, because I had received a lot of different phone calls, texts, during the course of the day from some of my SEC brothers and some my head coaches and different people from the SEC office, and I did get the text from the commissioner. I said, wow, that's kind of nice. I didn't respond to everybody. Don't take it personally if I hadn't responded to you yet. I had about 500 messages.

“I did text him. That's pretty cool, I was thinking to myself. My wife wanted a double veggie bowl from Chipotle -- trying to get an endorsement right there -- I was walking down, and I recognized the FaceTime, pulled it out and I see Greg Sankey's name. I said: This is pretty cool, the commissioner is FaceTiming me. That's pretty neat. He said, Why were you calling me? I said, I apologize, I must have butt-dialed you. That was a unique experience.”

Has your perspective on anything has changed now that you're a father?

“I’m 48 hours into this baby. I can't say I'm well versed. I think it changes your perspective. I knew it always would. If my girl ends up playing football, we probably got a lot of problems. I'll encourage her to do whatever, but playing football ain't one of them.”

Did you sleep on the plane coming over to media days?

“I did not blink an eye, I don’t think.”

A player said you did.

“Austin (Allen)?”

Kevin (Richardson).

K-Rich is delirious. I honestly didn’t. I remember cause those guys were getting rotated. We had the SEC Network on the plane with us and were rotating us through. So I know I was (awake).”

How much sleep have you gotten?

Not much. We went in early Friday morning and was hoping to deliver it on Friday because we thought it'd be cool, 7-7-17. And then midnight came and went and we still weren't there. It was till 4:44. She was in labor 26 hours. A long one.

You've called yourself an emotional guy. What was that moment like Saturday morning?

"There was a moment there I was worried about No. 1. For whatever reason, I was really freaked out about (Jen), her safety. I knew the baby was going to be OK, but I was really concerned about my wife. She came in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces. I think at 7 pounds, 10 (ounces), we weren't going to be able to do it. She'd been in it for so long and she didn't take any medications to relieve the pain, so it was really ... I got pretty emotional and had to walk away and I didn't want to let her see me. So it was a tough moment.

"Dr. Partridge was awesome when she was there at Washington Regional. The whole crew there was absolutely amazing and it kind of went through.

"Really, the most emotional I've been was when we were leaving Sunday. My wife, who's famous for driving across town to save 20 cents on broccoli, she is pretty tight with money. But she bought this car seat that looks like it's from Back to the Future. You put it in the backseat, she latches in and it checks you and tells you, yes, you're good to go. To see my child sitting the back seat rearview mirror on my right side and Jen was behind me on the left and I was in charge of them was really kind of surreal."

When you hold the baby for the first time, that's got to be cool.

It was pretty cool. She reacted pretty good. I don't know what I did or anything. I was trying to do it last night and I didn't have the same magic, so what I'm learning is daughters can be ever-changing within the hour. So it's just a neat process. Can't wait to get hope."

Is there a history to Briella Nichole?

No. We were just going Bret Bielema and Nichole is Jen's middle name. I liked the name Bella. Both of us have been one-syllable names our entire life. Bret and Jen is kind of plain, so we thought we'd give her some flair. But there's no naming rights or anything. We kind of came up with (it). I threw up Gabrielle, Gabriella and just kind of came to it."

Is this the calmest media days you've been to?

"It's very calm. I like going on the front end. Of course I've got to check with Jen, but I might have a baby every year if it's this easy."

Have you had to change diapers yet?

I changed one. Maybe half of one. I was starting and then the nurse said, 'Let me finish this out,' so I let her finish it out. I'll get more in that mode this week I'm sure."


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