Winning the SEC Title; it was a simple dream.
It took five years for the Board of Directors at the University of Arkansas to make changes in the football program. First, they let Jeff Long go. Second, just minutes after the game between Arkansas and Missouri was over came the announcement that Bret Bielema had been fired.
Arkansas versus Missouri
Distractions were abundant in the week of preparation for the last game of the season. First was Quarterback Cole Kelly, who was arrested by the Fayetteville Police Department for suspicion of driving under the influence. Kelley’s behavior forced Bret Bielema to suspend the redshirt freshman for a game. Kelley was ready and available to play against Missouri, but Bielema chose to stick with Senior starter Austin Allen for the entirety of the final game.
Second, Jeff Long was let go, putting Bielema’s future in greater limbo, reaching beyond the boardroom to affect an entire program. To coach in Arkansas is difficult because expectations are high and you annually face powerhouse programs like LSU, Alabama, and Auburn. The rest of the teams in the division are not as difficult, but Arkansas should not have a problem winning those games with some regularity, a harsh reality in a lackluster year. Missouri is the perfect example, now the newest member of the SEC and an annual rival that has taken home the Battle Line Rivalry trophy the last two seasons.
The game against Missouri was a must win for a program in dispair, but as has been the case under Bielema the last two seasons, the Razorbacks could not hold a 14 point lead. Missouri came out strong in the second quarter and the half time changes were enough. With the help of a few blown calls, including their final touchdown that was blatant offensive pass interference, the Tigers win 45-42.
Bret Bielema, you are FIRED.
Minutos después que se terminara el partido, y durante la espera de los medios de prensa para la conferencia, Kevin Trainor informo a los medio de la conferencia de prensa que se daría a las 7:30pm. La pregunta era, si Bret Bielema saldría a dar su última conferencia de prensa después de que se había anunciado su despido, y como todo un caballero salio a hablar con los medios
Minutes after the game was over, Kevin Trainor, a member of the University of Arkansas Athletic Department, came in to the press conference room and shared a press reléase that was about to be sent to all media outlets, and he also announced that a second press conference was going to take place inside Barn Hill Arena at 7:30pm. The press release announced that Bret Bielema had been fired. The question on everyones mind immediatly was if Bret Bielema would come and meet with members of the press. As class he displayed during his tenure, Bret Bielema came in and answered all the media’s questions.
La Semana del Sur asked the following: Any regrets coming to Arkansas?
“I get it. I totally get it. Without a doubt, unequivocally, no. When I made the decision to go there were a lot of factors that went into it. But one of the biggest factors was to try to do something that I really wanted to do. A chance to move to a new town with a new bride, and one of the greatest things that’s come out of this is I have a beautiful daughter, who, forever will be born in Fayetteville. You know, so I am better today than I was five years ago. I know that.” Concluded Bret Bielema.
We don’t know who will lead the football program for the University of Arkansas in the 2018 season. But there are a lot of rumors that Guz Malzahn is the first one contacted to take the job. Those hopes are somewhat diminished with the Auburn win over alabama. Mike Norvell at Memphis and Mike Leach at Washington State are names that have also been mentioned. Expect numerous names to become associated with the coaching vacancy, with the early signing period only weeks away. For now, defensive coordinator Paul Rhoades will serve as interim coach.