Bret Bielema

Bret Bielema takes stance against players using marijuana


Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has made no secret about his openness to adding transfer players if it means helping his team’s chances to win. Looking back on his time at Wisconsin it was Bielema who added transfer quarterbacks not once, but twice in hopes of giving the Badgers a shot at winning a Big Ten title. One time it worked beautifully with N.C. State transfer Russell Wilson. The other time it did not quite play out as perhaps expected, with Danny O’Brien of Maryland. Bielema likes to go after players with good character, and that stance may not be something that changes anytime at Arkansas.

“Everybody adds players to the program,” Bielema said in a recent radio interview on SportsTalk with Bo Mattingly, as transcribed by 247 Sports. “Especially at Arkansas, when we go after a transfer, we’re going after the highest quality of people. I’m not trying to get a rebound off any law enforcement or drug issues or anything else. We look for high quality.”

The timing of Bielema’s recent comments is worth noting as well. Former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, dismissed by the university this offseason, was officially added to Oklahoma’s roster as a transfer player on Thursday, the same day Bielema appeared on the radio program. DGB’s problems were drug related according to previous reports, and that is something Bielema takes seriously at Arkansas. At a time when the debate on whether or not marijuana should be legalized continues to evolve, Bielema is standing pat on his stance, as he generally does,

“I’ll be honest, just a couple weeks ago, there was a Baylor wide receiver that got into a little trouble [Bielema is referring to Robbie Rhodes, who is no longer with the Baylor program]. The thing he had gone through, we could be his greatest asset, with a strict no use of marijuana, no use of drugs. That’s something I really enforced when I got here, something I firmly believe in.”

“Across the nation, there’s a whole new process about legalizing marijuana,” Bielema said. “If I allow it to happen here, I’m allowing bad behavior to continue that will cost them their career. We’re pretty adherent to that policy.”

Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.