Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema is one game under .500 overall and just 10-22 in SEC play since arriving in Fayetteville. Add in a disappointing ending to the 2016 season and many Razorbacks fans have been clamoring to put the fifth-year coach on the hot seat as a result of the team’s struggles.
No so fast, says the school’s athletic director and former College Football Playoff Selection Committee chairman Jeff Long.
“Bret is the leader of our program,” Long told SEC Country at the league’s spring meetings. “The leader is more than just winning games — and I know some fans don’t wanna hear that. Trust me, it doesn’t mean we aren’t competing with every fiber of our being to win in the toughest conference and the toughest division of that conference. But when you look at what Bret’s doing, we’re building a program that’s built on an outstanding foundation.”
While that’s not exactly a bang-on-the-table-type of claim that Bielema will be in charge in 2018 and beyond, it’s a pretty strong statement as far as AD-speak goes. The program was certainly a mess following the tenures of Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith and the former Wisconsin coach has righted the ship quite a bit since then.
Of course, all coaches are judged by wins and losses and Bielema hasn’t quite hit the high level many in the fan base want at this stage — especially when it comes to conference play. Given what a meat-grinder the SEC West is on an annual basis, it’s going to be difficult to find the kind of success that many want but at least for Bielema it appears he has the backing of his AD for the foreseeable future.