CFN Reaction: Bret Bielema To Arkansas

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 4, 2012


Bret Bielema To Arkansas. Is this a good or bad move for the Hogs ... and for Bielema?

E-mail Pete Fiutak
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Arkansas has to ask itself one very basic, very simple question.

Is Bret Bielema going to win us a national championship?

Arkansas and Bielema, do you know who you are? Do you know what you do?

Arkansas, you have to be able to punch your weight with Alabama and LSU, not to mention the rest of the SEC, and what did you do? You hired a system coach. You hired a guy who has been able to get to three straight Rose Bowls, basically, because Michigan is in a transitional period and Ohio State went through a bad 2011 and couldn’t go this year.

You got a guy who isn’t known as a top-shelf recruiter, always getting players to fit a type and then using the system and style to occasionally get a big win, but for the most part, paving the road to Pasadena by bullying and burying the weak and the sad.

The big problem is that what worked in Madison probably won’t fly in Fayetteville, but that doesn’t mean that Bielema can’t change. Remember, Nick Saban was just a guy at Michigan State before he took over the LSU gig and grew into a legend. Bielema is young enough and talented enough to be able to tweak and adapt to life in the SEC, but there’s one big question mark and one big difference between Saban’s era as a Spartan and Bielema’s reign as a Badger; Saban could recruit.

Can Bielema go into a living room and get a kid to turn down Saban, Les Miles and Will Muschamp? Maybe, but he has yet to prove he can beat the powerhouse salesmen.

Maybe he’s exactly the type of bull in a china shop that Arkansas needs. He and his teams have been bullies – and that’s meant as a positive. There won’t be any intimidation factor against the big boys in the SEC, and the expectations will be there from Day One that his Hogs are supposed line up and blast away on everyone in their path. But can brute force be enough to get by?

Wisconsin’s best non-bowl, non-conference victory under his watch was against Arizona State – who finished 6-6 – in 2010. To be fair, it’s not like there were a slew of huge games outside of the Big Ten for him to win, but when last year’s blasting of Northern Illinois is No. 2 on the list, there’s still a prove-it factor.

The 2011 Rose Bowl loss to TCU was absolutely inexcusable – he and his staff were the only people in the building who failed to realize that sticking with the running game against a smaller defense might have been a good idea, and they didn’t figure it out until it was too late.

The 2006 team he took to a 12-1 record and a Capital One Bowl win over Arkansas beat nobody. It lost to the one great team on the slate – Michigan – and got by nine teams that finished with losing records.

The 2009 team came up with a terrific win over a chilly Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, but his 2008 team looked like it was running in mud against Florida State in the 2008 Champs Sports and the 2007 team lost a tight Outback Bowl to Tennessee giving him a 2-4 bowl record with the date against Stanford coming up.

Yes, he did a wonderful overall job at Wisconsin with a great win over a Sugar Bowl-bound Ohio State team in 2010, and getting to three straight Rose Bowls is an accomplishment no matter how it happened, but again, is he really a coach who can take Arkansas to another level, or is it possible that Bielema realized that the timing was right to get out while the getting was good?

With Urban Meyer starting to put together a monster at Ohio State, and with Brady Hoke hanging stride-for-stride on the recruiting trail, it’s possible that this is the ultimate sell high job change. At just 42, Bielema’s coaching career is in its infancy, and remember, when he was first brought on by Barry Alvarez as the heir apparent, he was considered to be the next Meyer, at least in terms of the potential to be a superstar college head coach.

And now the pressure is truly on for both Bielema and the Hogs. Arkansas is making a big, bold move to get over the hump to become a lasting superpower, but first, Bielema has to make a big, bold move by showing he can win a Rose Bowl.