Bielema lands shot at division rivals: Don't have to ask me about suspensions
Coming off a strong season of league play — the Hogs finished 5-3 in SEC play, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has to feel good about the direction of his Razorback program after only winning two league games in his first two seasons in Fayetteville.
“I look at the three losses and realize we lost in overtime to A&M, lost a heartbreaker on a game-winning field goal against Mississippi State and led Alabama at half and couldn’t close it out,” Bielema said during his opening remarks. “I realized we’re getting really close to where we want to be.”
But winning on the field isn’t the only thing that concerns Bielema, as he pointed out during his media session Wednesday, it’s the health of the overall program and the people it consists of that seem to bring the Arkansas coach so much pride.
“You don’t have to ask me if we’re going to suspend anybody for the first game,” Bielema said. “That doesn’t come up in our program.”
Without a doubt, those shots by Bielema are directed toward Tuscaloosa and Starkville. The Razorback coach credits his legendary college head coach Hayden Fry of Iowa as teaching him a valuable lesson before ever taking over a program of his own.
“I learned a very valuable lesson from Coach Frye (at Iowa), and he always said you recruit your own problems,” Bielema said.
The Razorback coach noted that during his tenure, very few players have been arrested or in trouble with the law. Bielema noted that during an 18-month stretch, no off the field issues were arose from his roster.
Bielema makes some good points regarding the level of character he aspires to bring into the program and now that he’s entering year four in Fayetteville, the roster has been completely worked over and filled with “his” guys after taking over from Bobby Petrino and the ill-fated one-year John L. Smith fiasco.
While the Razorbacks don’t typically land the level of elite blue chip talent as many of his division rivals, Bielema seemed very confident the depth on his roster is capable of replacing the many productive offensive players that left this offseason and will be playing in the NFL.
“Even though you don’t know who they are right now, I can tell you who they are,” Bielema said in regards to replacing some outstanding offensive players from last year’s roster. “There’s going to be some guys. Everybody wants to concentrate on (quarterback) Austin Allen. You have (true freshmen) running back(s) come in by the name of Devwah Whaley and T.J. Hammonds who I think are going to have a huge impact on this season… Frank Ragnow who is coming into his own, was a good offensive lineman a year ago, I think he’ll be a dominant offensive lineman defensively.”
While many may be unfamiliar with those names now, according to Bielema, that won’t be the case for much longer.