FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The recent transfer of a former Arkansas player to Texas Tech gave Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema a chance to crack some jokes about his relationship with Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury on Wednesday.
Bielema confirmed last month defensive back Willie Sykes had decided to transfer from the program. On Tuesday, several reports stated Sykes had enrolled at Texas Tech where the sophomore will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules.
“I didn’t talk to Kliff, as you can imagine, but (defensive coordinator) David Gibbs and I are very close,” Bielema said. “I brought Willie in, and he gave me Texas Tech, Baylor, another Big 12 school, a Big Ten school and a Pac-12 school and I called all of them and spoke on his behalf.
“I throw my phone number at mom and dad and coach, go back and call the same people we recruited and say, ‘Let’s find a good spot for him.’ For Christ’s sake. Look at Texas Tech. That’s probably the one guy that I don’t, you know, break bread with on an annual basis and I was more than happy to call Gibby. I kind of joked with Gibby that I wanted a formal apology from Kliff, but I was just joking. And I’m sure he understands where I’m coming from.”
The beginning of the jabs between the two coaches goes back to last season when Kingsbury said Bielema “got his ass kicked twice in a row” after the Red Raiders’ 35-24 victory on Sept. 19 over the Razorbacks. Arkansas had lost the previous week to Toledo.
Kingsbury was irked by Bielema’s criticism of the spread offense when he reportedly said “if you don’t play with a fullback, we’ll kick your ass” in July of 2015 at a Texas high school coaches clinic.
Bielema responded two days after the loss to Texas Tech last season.
“I’m happy he got to vent and hopefully he feels a lot better. As a coach who has been in it for 10 years, I know better than to worry about somebody that’s been around for a couple and they’re .500. So we’ll just go forward.”
He also added “if that was an ass-kicking, I’d love to see what last year was” in reference to Arkansas’ 49-28 win over win over Texas Tech in 2014.