Cal’s AD fires back at Bret Bielema, calls his comments ill-advised and beyond insensitive


Bret Bielema has been making headlines the last few days.

The second-year Arkansas coach cited a Cal player’s offseason death to support his stand on the 10-second defensive substitution proposal. Ted Agu collapsed and died at a local hospital earlier this month, in a tragic situation resulting from an offseason conditioning drill.

Related: Gus Malzahn wants to sideline the proposal until next year

Bielema spoke with Sports Illustrated on Friday morning, and he thought his comments about Agu were taken out of context.

“The reason I brought up the Cal player is this: We all have sickle cell players,” Bielema told “To me, it’s the most scary individual thing we face. There are no signs. There are no indicators. You test every one of your players when they come in. And there are players who come in that have no idea they have it.”

Related: Which direction is the Arkansas program heading?

His comments were met with fierce criticism, but none were sharper than Cal AD Sandy Barbour.

Bielema issued a statement Friday night, saying his comments were “unintentionally hurtful”.

“It was brought to my attention that remarks I made yesterday evening while discussing a proposed rule change were unintentionally hurtful,” Bielema said in his statement. “I am very passionate, as we all are, about the serious nature of protecting the well-being of student-athletes. Earlier today I was interviewed by Andy Staples to explain my stance on the proposed rule. In my press conference last night, I referenced information about the tragic loss of a life of a student-athlete. My comments were intended to bring awareness to player safety and instead they have caused unintended hurt. As a head coach who works with young individuals every day, the passing of Ted Agu is a reminder to us all how short and precious life is.

“I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the Agu family, Coach Sonny Dykes and to the University of California family.”

Bielema said this week he believes the 10-second rule will pass on March 6.

Photo Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports



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