For the first time publicly, Bielema discusses cancelled Michigan series
When Michigan announced the renewal of its annual series with Notre Dame starting in 2018, the team unfortunately forced to drop a game for its future non-conference schedule was Arkansas. The Razorbacks had planned to travel to Ann Arbor in 2018.
During his main media session with reporters Wednesday at SEC Media Days , Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema was asked to address his thoughts on the Wolverines canceling the much-anticipated game. According to the Razorback coach, he initially found out from his wife Jen, who found it online during their European vacation.
“I was excited about playing them,” Bielema said. “I know there’s discussion about them renewing the Notre Dame game. Jeff didn’t give me a deadline. I was in Europe with my wife. We were on a train headed to Paris. It’s ironic for me to say that in every words. My wife said, Hey, there’s something about — on the Internet about a Big Ten team canceling with an SEC team. I said, I don’t know anything about it. She said, Really? Your picture’s right here. She’s real quick.”
Bielema also referenced the cancelled game would have represented a SEC-Big Ten showdown he talked about wishing to see during this year’s SEC Spring Meetings.
“The Michigan-Notre Dame thing sounds sexy to everybody else, but I think Michigan and Arkansas sounds sexy,” Bielema said. “I was very excited about Big Ten versus SEC. I made a comment in the spring I’d love to see an SEC challenge at the front end. My commish gave me a josh back, said that’s called a bowl game.”
While clearly disappointed to no longer be scheduled for the game, Bielema did not take the opportunity to speak ill of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. In fact, the Razorback coach did the exact opposite and praised arguably the most polarizing coach in college football.
“I got tremendous respect for Jim. I know there’s a lot of people like to throw darts at Michigan, all that’s going on right now,” Bielema said. ‘I love a guy that speaks his mind, as you can tell from knowing me. I love the way he coaches the game. I know several people that know him. I know his father and his brother are halfway decent. I understand they have to do what they have to do, but it was one of those — it was tough to go away.”