Bielema snipes at Pinkel over 'fiction' comments
HOOVER, Ala. — If you’re ever cornered in an alley with a hoard of machete-wielding bandits bearing down on you, better hope you have Arkansas coach Bret Bielema on speed dial.
Bielema sniped at yet another coach Wednesday who dared to slander his view on up-tempo college football offenses as it relates to player safety.
Since before the rules committee shoved the 10-second pace of play rule into the carbon freezing chamber, Bielema, its most vocal supporter, has faced a slew of haymakers, both direct and indirect.
Either Bielema is the kind of fellow who refuses to admit he’s wrong, like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, or he genuinely believes uptempo offenses are deadly. No matter how much pushback he’s gotten, he hasn’t budged.
“Have I softened my view of fast-paced offenses? The only thing I’m going to say to that, if you ask me in that tense, you’re asking me have I softened my view on player safety,” Bielema said. “The answer would be no. If I recruit somebody, bring them into my family, I’m going to do everything in my power to make … player safety a premium in our program.”
Last year, Bielema got into a chippy philosophical disagreement with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn that spilled over to the season. Wednesday’s media day featured Bielema vs. Gary Pinkel.
Earlier in the day, Pinkel called the notion of fast-paced offenses presenting additional safety concerns for players “fiction.” In so many words, he said it’s ludicrous to suggest that the in-vogue offense is dangerous to players.
A reporter made sure to inform Bielema of the comments.
“Not to carry from last year, but I’m probably more of a reality-based movie guy more than fiction, I guess,” Bielema said. “I think I deal more in what I know, what I see, what I believe.”
First, anyone wondering about Bielema’s assimilation into the culture of the Southeastern Conference can rest easy. The lip-service caveat is as Southern as it gets. (For those of you who live in the area, how often have you heard the tagline “bless his heart” attached to the end of a sentence, as if it somehow mitigates whatever ad hominem preceded it?)
Bigger picture, Missouri and Arkansas now are cross-divisional
buddies enemies in addition to sharing a border. It’s not Missouri-Kansas, but — at least we can hope — it could set the tone for a few more pokes and prods in the near future.
Also, for a team that finished 3-9 last year, Bielema somehow manages to shift the conversation away from the performance of his team a good amount of the time. That will change fast if the Razorbacks don’t improve this season, but Bielema has carved out an identity if nothing else.
Don’t expect any white flags out of Fayetteville, Ark., this season.