Bret Bielema was not particularly well-liked by Arkansas fans to start the season. And that was before the team took on TCU at home.
The Razorbacks offense looked inept against the Horned Frogs. Coupled with some missed chip-shot field goals, Arkansas put just 7 points on the board in a 28-7 loss at home. A season ago, the Razorbacks scored 41 points against TCU.
Arkansas also is overhauling a defense that struggled last year. After defensive coordinator Robb Smith left in the offseason, Bielema promoted secondary coach Paul Rhoads. Rhoads has experience calling a defense and was Iowa State’s coach from 2009-15. If Rhoads can turn around the defense, Arkansas has a chance to bounce back from the poor start.
Bielema teams have had a tendency to finish seasons strong, and that traditionally comes after a poor start.
The 2016 season, however, was different. The Razorbacks started 5-2 but lost four of their final six games to finish 7-6. Worse, they held double-digit halftime leads in the final two games — against Missouri and Virginia Tech — but were shut out in the second half and lost both games.
The Razorbacks put together another top 30 recruiting class in 2017, landing four 4-star recruits. The Razorbacks have 12 commitments in their 2018 class, but only Missouri and Ole Miss have worse classes per the 247Sports composite rankings.
Bielema needs a strong season, considering his 68.8-percent approval rating in SEC Country’s approval poll in August. That left him 13th among SEC coaches.
Bielema earned $4.1 million in 2016. In his four years at Arkansas, Bielema has a 26-27 overall record but is 10-22 in the SEC. The Razorbacks are off this week before taking on Texas A&M on Sept. 23.
Vote on Bret Bielema’s approval rating
The SEC Country approval rating poll is designed to give an indication of fan happiness over a period of time.
Our formula is based on the percentage of respondents who select each answer. We multiply that percentage by the following factors: 1 (strongly approve), 0.67 (approve), 0.33 (disapprove) and 0.0 (strongly disapprove). In other words, if 50 percent of respondents select “strongly approve” and 50 percent select “approve,” the formula would be (50 x 1) + (50 x 0.67) = 83.5% approval rating.