Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has spent time this week at the sEC spring meetings setting the record straight on a number of hot-button issues he has not handled all that well this offseason. He has stuck to his stance on player safety and apologized for some of his previous comments. Now Bielema just wants to be able to focus on the development and rebuilding of Arkansas football. With wins will come respect and a chance for his voice to mean more to those willing to listen.
“I haven’t won a game, so it’s hard to say you know what you’re talking about,” Bielema said in a story by CBSSports.com. “I’m tired of Wisconsin statistics. I’d like to have some Arkansas statistics to brag about.”
Bielema actually is a good coach, and in time he will have Arkansas playing better football. He inherited a mess of a program decimated by the turmoil left behind by Bobby Petrino’s shallow recruiting efforts and John L. Smith doing everything he could to try and keep the S.S. Razorback from sinking. This is far from the position Bielem walked into at Wisconsin when he replaced Barry Alvarez as head coach. Bielema led the Badgers to three straight Big Ten titles, including two victories in the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State and Nebraska, and he took Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowls as a result, but lost all three to TCU, Oregon and Stanford. At Arkansas, Bielema knows he needs some time to put his plans into motion, but he remains focused on a bigger prize down the line.
“I made this move for a lot of different reasons — obviously assistant coaches salaries and all that jazz, but I just wanted to reboot the battery,” Bielema said. “I’d been at one place for 9 years. I thoroughly enjoyed it, loved every minute of it, I have great memories, great friends and great players. I just needed something to shake up my personal inventory a little bit to get where I needed to be.”
Bielema was also on record of suggesting one of the reasons he left Wisocnsin for Arkansas is because the SEC will be more likely than the Big Ten to field two teams in the College Football Playoff. Will either of those two teams ever be coached by Bielema?
If so, it will be a good day to be a Razorback.
In Nick Saban‘s official response to quarterback Blake Barnett‘s abrupt departure from Alabama, the head coach described the program as “disappointed” in the impending transfer.
Unofficially? The Nicktator appears to be somewhat agitated by not only the move itself but the overall transfer climate in the sport.
Shortly after releasing the statement on Barnett, Saban appeared on his weekly radio show. While the quarterback’s name wasn’t specifically mentioned, it wasn’t hard to crack the code Saban was using in dropping pearls of wisdom from the lessons his West Virginia-born father had taught him.
From al.com‘s transcription of the interview:
It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said. “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think if I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.
“My dad used to always say ‘The grass is always greener on top of the septic tank,'” Saban said. “So it always looks better someplace else. So you think, instead of facing your fears and really overcoming adversity and making yourself better through the competition, you go someplace else thinking it will be better there. But until you face your fears, you’re always going to have some of those issues or problems.
Exactly what Saban’s father would’ve thought of his son leaving the Miami Dolphins after just two years and his first losing season as a head coach to make the move to Alabama is unknown.
An off-field incident involving one of his Alabama football players has drawn a public response from Nick Saban.
Very early Thursday morning, Tim Williams was arrested university police officers and charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. Williams and another unidentified male were sitting in the linebackers’ vehicle in a Publix parking lot when an officer who approached the vehicle smelled marijuana. A search revealed said marijuana, which the other man, who was seated in the driver’s seat, claimed; a gun was also found, which Williams claimed.
However, Williams could not produce a permit, leading to the misdemeanor charge.
In a statement, Saban said that “[t]his kind of behavior is not condoned in our program.” That said, the head coach was not ready to say one way or the other what if any punitive measures the senior may face.
“This kind of behavior is not condoned in our program,” the coach’s statement began. “We are currently in the process of reviewing all of the information. Once we have a complete understanding of the situation, we will determine what we need to do in terms of the appropriate discipline.”
Entering the 2016 season, Williams was viewed by many as a potential, or even likely, first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He has just 1.5 sacks in four games this season after totaling 10.5 in 15 games in 2015.
Derwin James is still at least a couple of weeks or so away from returning from his injury, but Florida State will likely get a talented defensive player back on the field this weekend anyway.
When asked Thursday if defensive end Josh Sweat will be available for the North Carolina game this weekend, Jimbo Fisher responded, “oh yeah.” Sweat sustained a meniscus injury in practice leading up to the Louisville game in Week 3 and, after it limited him in that contest, underwent surgery to repair the damage shortly thereafter.
At the time, the prognosis for a return was 1-2 weeks. Sweat missed the win over USF last weekend, but could see the field this weekend as he’s practiced the past couple of days.
“Healing really well, looks great” Fisher said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’ll see [Friday] morning, but [the knee] looks great.”
Sweat started nine of 13 games as a true freshman last season, and started the first two games in 2016 before the knee issue surfaced.
Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.
Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.
In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.
On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.
The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.
While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well. In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.