With Kansas hiring former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long to the same position this week, one can’t help but wonder if former Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema may have an in at a potential power conference program in need of a coach soon.
It all seems to make too much sense to ignore the possibility that Long would potentially reach out to his former head coaching hire at Arkansas in the event he needs to make a coaching change at Kansas. David Beaty may actually be in a solid position right now despite the last couple of woeful years of Kansas football, but one more poor showing on the field by the Jayhawks could lead to a coaching change faster than may be for the greater good at Kansas. And if Long ends up deciding to move in a different direction, it would not be shocking to learn Bielema might be on the shortlist.
Long hired Bielema away from Wisconsin to come to be the head coach of the Razorbacks after the 2012 season. In five years at Arkansas, Bielema coached the program to a disappointing 29-34 record with a declining win total in each of his final two seasons on the job. Although Arkansas struggled under Bielema, the general consensus appears to suggest Bielema is still a solid head coaching candidate in the right situation. At a program like Kansas, where there is likely nowhere to go but up, why not see what Bielema can do in the Big 12?
The biggest unknown is the motivation Bielema has to jump back into coaching just for the sake of coaching again. Arkansas owes Bielema $320,000 per month until the end of December 2020, with those monthly installments in the $11.9 million buyout kicking off last November. That’s a solid paycheck for not having to recruit and coach. So Bielema can do absolutely nothing until the end of 2020 if he wants. Of course, he has been keeping busy working with the New England Patriots in the offseason at events like the NFL Scouting Combine and representing the AFC champions at pro day events like at Alabama. So he is certainly staying connected and in tune with the game to some degree.
Bielema was coaching from 1994 through 2017. He has won three Big Ten championships with Wisconsin. He may very well be a head coach once again in due time, perhaps even before his buyout expires with Arkansas. Is Kansas the perfect landing spot? Despite the connection with Long, it may not be for Bielema. A return to the Big Ten may be better suited for Bielema with some potential openings coming up in the next coaching carousel cycle.
It’s also worth noting Bielema is enjoying life as a father of a young daughter, and that may not be an experience he wants to get away from so quickly. Only he would know for sure, of course. The point is Bielema has time to weigh his options. Rushing to get him to Kansas is probably a waste of time at the moment, especially if Beaty has anything to say about it.
Once again, the Indiana Hoosiers football coaching staff is whole.
Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers announced the additions of two assistant coaches for Tom Allen. Jason Jones will serve as safeties coach, while Kevin Wright will coach tight ends.
Allen and Jones have a prior working relationship, having served on the same coaching staff at Ole Miss.
“I have so much respect for Jason,” the Indiana Hoosiers football head coach said in a statement. “I was fortunate to work with him for two seasons at Ole Miss. He has worked in the SEC and the Big 12, and he was a part of one of the top defenses in the country last year. Jason’s a great football coach and is the kind of husband, father and man I want in this program.”
Last year, Jones was the cornerbacks coach at Florida Atlantic.
“I am so thankful to Coach Allen for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great staff,” Jones said. “IU impressed me so much last season, and I can’t wait to contribute to even more success. I am excited and ready to get to work.”
Wright is a 20-year coaching veteran, with 13 of those years in the state of Indiana and the last five at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“I’ve known Kevin for many, many years” Allen said. “He’s been one of the most successful high school coaches in the country and has done a tremendous job working with some of the top talent in the country at IMG. Kevin allows us to expand our recruiting base and continue our success in the state of Florida. He’s a great fit for our program in so many ways, and we are excited to welcome Kevin and his family to IU.”
These hirings came a month after a new seven-year deal for Allen was announced.
The North Carolina football program is the latest to dip into the FCS ranks for some talent. Placekicker talent, but still.
Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina football program announced that Grayson Atkins is transferring to the Tar Heels. Atkins spent the past three seasons at Furman.
According to UNC, Atkins will graduate from the FCS school in the spring. He’ll then join the North Carolina football program in the summer.
As a graduate transfer, Atkins will have one season of eligibility remaining.
Below are Atkins’ particulars, as relayed by UNC’s release:
An Inman, S.C. native, Atkins converted on 33-of-41 field goal attempts and 132-of-138 PAT attempts during his three seasons at Furman. He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and second-team honors as a sophomore. Atkins was also named All-Southern Conference twice. His 231 career points rank 10th on Furman’s career scoring list and fifth on the kick scoring list. Combining the end of his junior season and the beginning of his senior season, Atkins made 18 consecutive field goals, which is a Furman and Southern Conference record.
As a junior in 2019, Atkins earned first-team AFCA FCS Coaches’ All-America honors to go along with All-America honors form the Associated Press and STATS FCS. He converted on 13-of-15 field goal attempts and 48-of-50 PATs. Atkins made all six field-goal attempts under 40 yards and went 7-of-9 on attempts from 40 or more yards including a 55-yarder. In addition to his first-team All-SoCon honors as a placekicker, Atkins earned second-team accolades as a punter after averaging 43.5 yards per punt.
This past season, sophomore Noah Ruggles made all 45 of his extra-point attempts for the Tar Heels. He also hit on just 19 of his 27 field-goal attempts.
This development involving a now-former Florida Gators football player flew under our radar last week, so we’ll rectify that with an early-morning post to start this work week.
Chris Bleich started eight of the first nine games at right guard for Florida this past season, with the lone start he missed being due to blisters on his foot. However, the redshirt freshman had begun to lose playing time due to performance even as he maintained the starting job in name.
With his grip on the position loosening, though, Bleich decided to take his leave of the Gators in early November. Florida Gators football head coach Dan Mullen subsequently confirmed the departure. Mullen also confirmed that unspecified family issues at home triggered the decision.
In the latest Bleich development, Syracuse announced late this past week that the lineman has been added to the Orange’s roster. In its release, the football program stated that “Bleich must sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer regulations unless granted immediate eligibility.”
It’s expected that Bleich will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this coming season.
Bleich was a three-star member of Florida’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania. The 6-6, 330-pound lineman played in just four games as a true freshman, and was able to preserve a year of eligibility by taking a redshirt that season.
If Bleich is granted a waiver, he’ll have three seasons to play three years. If not, he’ll sit out 2020 and then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.
A personnel loss for Florida State will apparently be a gain for the Oregon State football program.
Last month, Tre'Shaun Harrison placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. This past week, it was reported that Harrison has been added to the OSU student directory.
According to Oregon Live, “Harrison and his mom took a visit to Corvallis from January 3-5 and the trip left him encouraged about a future with the Beavers.”
As of yet, the Oregon State football program has not addressed any roster development involving Harrison. Barring the unexpected, the receiver will have to sit out the 2020 season. That would then leave him with two years of eligibility starting in 2021.
A four-star 2018 signee, Harrison was rated as the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Washington. Harrison was originally committed to Oregon before flipping and following Willie Taggart to FSU.
In 2019, Harrison caught 27 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. He was third on the Seminoles in both catches and yards.
Harrison is the second Power Five wide receiver transfer added by the Oregon State football program this month. After opting to leave Washington, Trey Lowe ultimately moved on and transferred to OSU. Like Harrison, Lowe will have to sit out the upcoming season.