Bret Bielema

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When will Bret Bielema coach again?

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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.

Rich Rodriguez and Bret Bielema were also at Alabama’s pro day

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Alabama’s pro day tends to draw a big crowd, which is nothing new. In addition to likely future Alabama staffer Butch Jones being on the scene today along with the likes of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, others caught on camera at the pro day event were former Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez and former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema.

Bielema’s presence at the Alabama pro day could likely be explained by Bielema’s recent connection with the Patriots. During last week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, it was reported Bielema was working as a representative of the Patriots. There has been no announcement on whether or not Bielema will be joining the Patriots staff this offseason, but Belichick has been known to bring former college coaches with him to events like these. Belichick previously took Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano after Schiano had been fired by the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014, according to NESN.

Rodriguez is a bit of a new one though. He previously had no documented connection to any NFL team following his removal as head coach at Arizona, which continues to be a legal issue being taken care of off the field. Perhaps Saban was throwing Rodriguez a bone as coaches tend to do in allowing Rodriguez an opportunity to mingle with other coaches and scouts with the intent of finding his next job. These pro days can be good opportunities for disgraced coaches as well.

It is also worth a reminder that Rodriguez previously turned down an opportunity to be the head coach at Alabama. Alabama ended up hiring Saban instead, and Rodriguez eventually landed at Michigan. Safe to say these two coaches have taken contrasting career paths.

Arkansas dismisses Bret Bielema as head coach

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Well, that didn’t take very long at all. Or, for some Arkansas fans, maybe it took too long.

Arkansas has officially parted ways with Bret Bielema as head coach of the Razorbacks. The official announcement was made minutes after Arkansas ended their regular season with a home loss to Missouri, with a press conference scheduled for Friday evening.

“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Razorback Football program,” interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples said in a statement. “During the course of the past five seasons, we have not been able to sustain the success on the field that is expected and required at the University of Arkansas.

“There is no question that Coach Bielema has been a valued and respected member of our department and has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes, including supporting them in their pursuit of graduation. We are grateful for his contributions to our program and most importantly his investment in the lives of our student-athletes. We wish him the very best both personally and professionally.

“Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally. I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nation’s best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”

Bielema came to Arkansas with as solid reputation as you could find at the time at the end of the 2012 season. After guiding Wisconsin to a third-straight Rose Bowl appearance (Bielema left Wisconsin prior to coaching the third Rose Bowl in that run), Bielema was expected to be able to bring a model of consistent winning to the Arkansas program. Bielema claimed he made the decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas because he would have a better chance to compete for a national championship with the Razorbacks, but the wins never piled up the way he and Arkansas leaders and fans envisioned.

In five years at Arkansas, Bielema was 29-24 with an even more lopsided result in SEC play over the years. In 2017, Arkansas finished the year with a second losing season under Bielema, and late in the season the school also fired the man who originally hired Bielema, former athletics director Jeff Long.

Arkansas joins Florida, Tennessee, and Ole Miss among SEC schools now looking for a new head coach.

Arkansas backup QB arrested for reckless driving and driving while intoxicated

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As if the weekend was not already sour enough for Arkansas. A day after getting blown away by rival LSU on the road, backup quarterback Cole Kelley was arrested early Sunday morning for reckless driving and driving while intoxicated.

A report from KATV in Little Rock says Kelley has a hearing scheduled for November 13 and December 15. The 20-year old was booked at 8:47 AM in Fayetteville. Bond was set at $935. His status with the program, for now, has not been changed.

“I was informed early this morning of an incident involving Cole Kelley,” a statement from Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said. “We are gathering all information from the proper authorities and will make a determination upon review of that information.”

Kelley played in Arkansas’ 33-10 loss at LSU on Saturday, completing three of 10 pass attempts for 36 yards with an interception in relief of Austin Allen. Kelley had started three games for the Razorbacks this season prior to the LSU game, filling in for an injured Allen.

Texas A&M tops Arkansas in high-scoring overtime thriller

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There is one guarantee you can make every college football season. That is that Texas A&M and Arkansas are going to give you your money’s worth when they face off against each other in Arlington. The Razorbacks and Aggies played an overtime game for the third-straight year, and the result once again went in favor of Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0 SEC) in the highest-scoring game between the two schools in series history. The Aggies handed Arkansas (1-2, 0-1 SEC) a 50-43 loss, extended Texas A&M’s winning streak in the series to six.

The game may have been decided in overtime, but Arkansas pretty much deserved to lose the moment they allowed a kickoff to land in the hands of Christian Kirk with a little more than five minutes to play immediately after taking a 36-33 lead on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Jonathan Nance.

After Mond completed a touchdown pass to Kirk in the first possession of overtime, Armani Watts sealed the game for the Aggies with an interception in the end zone on a 3rd-and-8 play from the Texas A&M 12-yard line. Since joining the SEC, Texas A&M has not lost to Arkansas.

This was a win that was needed for Kevin Sumlin to some degree after a couple of not-so-inspiring victories following a collapse against UCLA. The Aggies are now 3-1 though and will have to find a way to build off this win moving forward. Meanwhile, Bret Bielema at Arkansas will start to hear some more rumblings from disgruntled fans after another loss to the Aggies.

Arkansas took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter before the Aggies started to chip away. Texas A&M managed to cut the Razorback lead to 21-17 prior to halftime, and they probably should have had the lead if not for a blown call by the sideline judge calling the play dead 10 yards shy of the end zone when the play should have continued. The Aggies ended up settling for a field goal a few plays later, but replays showed Kellen Mond clearly stayed in bounds on his run. The play was not reviewable by the instant replay officials because the play had been blown dead by the on-field official.

Mond passed for 216 yards and two scores and led all players with 109 rushing yards. Keith Ford added another 10-2 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies. Allen passed for 229 yards and two scores, while Cole Kelley stepped on the field for a short touchdown pass as well for Arkansas.

Arkansas will be home next week for a game against New Mexico State. The Razorbacks will play SEC opponents the rest of the season, including Alabama (Oct. 14) and Auburn (Oct. 21) in back-to-back weeks.

Texas A&M will also be home next week to continue SEC play. The Aggies host the South Carolina Gamecocks before preparing for a showdown with No. 1 Alabama on October 7.