SANDESTIN, Fla. — Bret Bielema wants football to take a page out of the basketball rule book in the near future.
The Arkansas coach is especially interested in allowing players to return to college after declaring for the NFL draft, similar to how the NCAA now allows basketball players to change their minds after exploring the NBA waters without an agent.
“One of things that jumped out to me was recruiting was so different for such a comparable sport,” Bielema said Tuesday at the SEC’s spring meetings. “The two things I think basketball has figured out is that right there.”
Bielema specifically pointed to two of Arkansas’ top players who declared early for the 2016 NFL Draft — running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams.
“If they had that information, they wouldn’t have made the decision they made,” he said.
Bielema believes an underclassman NFL combine could be a “great” step forward. He admitted moving the proposal forward is “way above my pay grade but I’ll speak out on it any time.”
Bielema is also gathering support for his stance. He even reached out to a perceived rival in Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
“It’s the first thing Gus and I agreed upon since being here,” Bielema said.
Williams had an insurance policy protecting him against injury. Bielema believed the running back would have been drafted in the second, but he fell to the fifth and received none of the insurance money after being sidelined with a foot injury all of last season.