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Andy Hodges

What Bielema can’t or won’t say at press conference



Monday it’s time for Bret Bielema to face the media again.

This time, however, he will have the advantage of being able to see Arkansas’ latest meltdown and analyze the film.

And the odds are good we’ll hear how close this team is to something that hasn’t really been clearly defined yet.

Here’s exactly where this time is right now:

• Winless in the SEC (0-4)

• Winless against Power 5 opponents through seven games. Yes, over halfway through the season this team does not have a win over a Power 5 opponent.

• Mounting injuries (running back Chase Hayden is likely done for the year).

• Questions continuing to mount about Bielema’s ability to actually get this program out of the miserable quagmire it has been stuck in for nearly a year now.

• Facing four SEC opponents in it’s final five games and needing to win four of those final five just to get into ANY sort of bowl game.

Yes, that’s the depths to which Arkansas football has sank.

Nobody is going to say it’s an impossible situation, but that word is on the tip of every Razorback fans’ tongue.

“This is unchartered waters for me,” he said Saturday night after Auburn dismantled the Hogs for the second year in a row, 52-20.

Bielema has continued to look completely lost and bewildered as the losses continue to mount. It’s almost like he has no idea what to say, do or expect.

In a way you can understand that. He never had to deal with this at Wisconsin.

For four years he kept telling anyone that would listen that he basically was shooting for the fifth year.

“It’s time to raise the bar,” he said before the season started.

So he knows what the expectations were. He knew the implications of what he was facing. Instead of stepping up and saying early on this was going to be a team where a lot of things had to fall exactly right just to match the previous seasons, he continues to think a miracle is going to come along.

Luck, which is what he’s been counting on, hasn’t kicked in. Bielema used up more luck than most coaches get in a career in the 2015 season.

Now he’s going back to where he kept rolling sevens in that 2015 season. From the Henry Heave to Austin Allen getting a 2-point conversion to block Ole Miss from going to Atlanta and the SEC Championship game to getting about 12 different breaks against Tennessee, Arkansas managed to make it to the Liberty Bowl.

And everybody was excited, which may have been the most alarming aspect of the whole thing.

How far has the Hog Nation fallen when getting to the Liberty Bowl is considered a major accomplishment?

Bielema came in guns blazing in December 2012 and all he’s done with that is shoot himself in the foot repeatedly while hitting the occasional bullseye and selling fans on things are getting better.

Quite frankly it’s started to sound like loser’s talk. It’s gotten worse lately.

I’m sure we’ll hear today about how this one play, that one play against Auburn could have made a difference. How this one player just made a mistake and if he’s been six inches farther along it would have been different.

When you deduct the coachspeak from everything Bielema says you’re left with a coach that’s trying to make the reasons this team is so bad sound like close misses.

He can’t tell the truth at this point.

That truth is he can’t recruit the type players necessary to win the SEC. There’s no one else to blame for the talent level after five recruiting cycles.

He can’t say that he lost every good assistant coach he had. There are no answers why folks like Jim Chaney and Sam Pittman left, only to wind up at Georgia, who is now the hottest team in the league outside of Tuscaloosa.

No, he can’t point the finger at athletics director Jeff Long about not having the budget to have even a moderate-size support staff (where there is no limit and Alabama has something like 48 people on the support staff that are never near practice).

That’s the modern-day requirement to win games in the SEC. Guys who do nothing but analyze every minute detail, including scouting potential recruits four and five years away from them being eligible to sign.

Bielema won’t mention any of that. Not that he’s likely more aware of it than anyone else.

If you didn’t know better, you’d swear he acts like a guy that knows what day he’s going to hit the Lottery jackpot.

Which, at the present pace, may be soon after Thanksgiving.


2021 Hogs Football

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