Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas sports mailbag with reporter Eric W. Bolin. In this edition, we discuss the future of Bret Bielema, who might be coming next, why Arkansas football recruiting is treading water, and the truth that Arkansas is, in fact, a baseball school.
What coach is the magic cure-all? Is there one?
Is there a coach in existence that would appease the fanbase and win if the wheels fall off in your opinion ? – Zach Mitchell
Sure. And yet, at the time, absolutely not.
It took me leaving Arklahoma and losing my Razorbacks fandom for this to really occur me to, but when it did, it hit me hard and has stuck with me ever since. And that is, there is no place like Arkansas.
I mean that in the best and worst ways. It’s a beautiful place to which I have returned to raise my family. It’s full of passionate people who, when it comes to sports, have a very single-minded purpose. They’re friendly to strangers and have hardened lives, for various reasons. Salt of the earth.
They also are worn, tired and saddled with the burden that the team they root for probably will never return its glory days of the 1960s.
The next coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team will be beloved, almost universally and almost immediately. People will use the word “our” to describe him. “That’s our guy. Our coach.” This will last for two years, minimum, no matter the record — unless, of course, extramarital affairs crop up like they have for coaches in the past.
If by Year 3 progress has not been made, things will sour. If the next coach has an attitude that does not correlate with the direct values of the fan base, things will sour faster. This will continue to happen until said coach, any one of them, reaches 10 wins. At that point, the clock will either reset or, at least, be reversed by two years.
This is the way it has been at Arkansas my entire lifetime. It isn’t going to change. No coach on the planet — save maybe the one currently in Tuscaloosa, Ala. — would be enough to make it change.
As for whether the wheels fall off this season and Arkansas is, in fact, looking for a new coach soon, figure on a similar season. About .500, give or take a game. Because, frankly, that’s what Arkansas is now.
Did the fight shake up Arkansas’ running back rotation?
Was Chase Hayden’s lack of carries against TCU due to being in the doghouse? And if so would Thursday’s incident make David williams starter? – David Green
First question, no. Definitely not. Chase Hayden has done nothing public or even rumored to be in anyone’s doghouse. By all accounts, he is a first-rate guy. Besides, I don’t think his father, Aaron, would put up with bad attitude stuff. Aaron made it to the NFL. He knows what it takes and has taught Chase that stuff doesn’t fly.
Now, the second question is only barely related. It’s related because they’re all running backs. But I have to figure what you mean by “incident” is the fight Devwah Whaley got into with a teammate. I don’t think that happened Thursday, by the way. I think it just became widely available public knowledge on Thursday.
Anyway, I seriously doubt Whaley will get dinged for it. Bret Bielema and Arkansas need a win Saturday against Texas A&M. Whaley is the team’s best running back. Doesn’t appear Whaley was in the wrong during the scuffle, either — if it was a significant, punishment-worthy scuffle in the first place.
If the coaches think Whaley is the best running back on the team, he will see the bulk of the carries. They need him Saturday.
Would Bret Bielema go to Nebraska?
If Nebraska fires Mike Riley, do you think Bielema would consider leaving the Hogs to go back to the Big 10? – Jared Bridgman
Heck yes, he would. Nebraska is a prime gig. It’s better than Arkansas, as far as glory of jobs go. That said, Nebraska had made plenty of mind-boggling decisions coaching-wise the last 20 years, and the Cornhuskers are not the program our fathers grew up with.
Just because I wrote “heck yes” does not mean I think Bielema is champing at the bit to get out of Dodge. Or Fayetteville, as it were. I just mean heck yes he would consider it. A lot of coaches would consider that job.
Ultimately, it depends on who is hired as the athletic director there. Gotta have a boss you can work with.
What is the over/under on (SEC) head coach firings? 3.5? – bbeck41
Perfect. Not sure which I’d take, either, the over or under. Means it’s right on the money to me.