Jim Harris: We Love You Bret Bielema and Your Sense of Humor


Hell may have no fury like a woman scored, but a bitter, scorned athletic director is awfully close.

In case readers missed Monday’s feature by Hot Springs native Dan Wolken in USA Today on Wisconsin football, Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez wants the college football world to know that Wisconsin doesn’t miss Bret Bielema and Alvarez insists his words aren’t flavored with sour grapes. This in spite of nearly every Alvarez quote seemingly a broadside at the former Badgers coach who shocked everyone by taking the Arkansas job last December.

There was this gem, supposedly to praise new Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, who is all of 30-31 as a college coach, to close the USA Today feature:

He’s a legitimate guy. What you see is what you get. He’s not going to go up there and try to be a comedian. You ask him a question, and he’s going to give you an answer. He’s got a good plan for everything, how he’s going to go about things. He’s a good team player.

Bret Bielema, while not necessarily channeling Jerry Seinfeld, or even Lou Holtz, has displayed a keen sense of humor since his sudden arrival in Fayetteville. His 65 stops throughout the state in 2013 — whether addressing Razorback Clubs or serving as the lead-off speaker at a sold-out Little Rock Touchdown Club meeting Wednesday — have been constantly entertaining.

“I’ve used up all of my jokes,” he told the filled-to-capacity Marriott Hotel ballroom.

He brought a few new ones Wednesday.

Arkansas fans like a coach with a sense of humor who can entertain at the dais. They loved Holtz, even if his jokes included telling the rest of the nation that Fayetteville might not be the end of the world but one could see it from there.

They have gravitated quickly to Bielema, which, after last year’s season and John L. Smith’s attempts to make it all one big joke, is understandable.

Bielema was funnier than a lead-in skit of sorts Wednesday that had local Sheriff “Doc” Holliday letting the new coach off for some contrived violation. It may have had something to do with bitter Barry Alvarez supposedly telling the now-ousted Ohio State president Gordon Gee that Bielema “was a thug” and Gee saying that Bielema “was one-step ahead of the sheriff” in getting out of Wisconsin.

Holliday’s pardoning of the coach was part of a 22-minute pre-ramble led by club founder David Bazzel, who was shilling everything from National Football Foundation memberships to admission to the Sports Hall of Fame. Bielema and Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long should have had him hawk tickets to the Sept. 7 Samford game here as well.

“You think I speak fast? Thank god you do or we would’ve already been here an hour,” Bielema deadpanned with a nod to his host, Bazzel.

Yes, we love you, Bret Bielema.

we love you bret bielema at lr touchdown club

Anthracite uniforms (or charcoal gray, if you will) are out this year, the coach said. The Hogs will be in their traditional look of red helmets and jerseys andwhite pants (with black shoes and socks) for home games. For the road, though, get used to all white — helmet, jerseys and pants. At least the Razorback on the helmet is red and normal-sized this year. The fewer reminders of last season, the better.

Again, we love you Bret Bielema.

“I understand you don’t like gray around here,” he cracked. “It looks good on a Jeep though.” Bielema has a new gray Jeep, instead of the Corvette convertible he had in Madison, Wis. — “I don’t think this is a Corvette convertible town,” he said he told his wife about Fayetteville. He drove several oversized members of the defensive line in the Jeep to a team gathering at a movie theater Tuesday night, in lieu of a two-hour team meeting to talk football.

A bag of popcorn, a slushy and a movie go a long way to building team bonds, he indicated. Ten more days still remain to have everything in place for the season opener with Louisiana-Lafayette.

This coach smiled broadly and seemed as happy as he was the day he was announced as the new head Hog, just days removed from leading Wisconsin to a 70-31 wipeout of Nebraska for the Badgers’ third-straight Big Ten title.

I admired his demeanor in that he managed all this good humor while having just learned more bad news: yet another key Hog would miss the next six to eight weeks of the season. Sophomore receiver D’Arthur Cowan, who was an Alabama target out of Olive Branch, Miss., and had shown up big in August camp, had to have a screw implanted to repair a bone break in his foot. That makes four Razorbacks, and two top receivers, sidelined with major injuries in the past few days.

Meanwhile, as Arkansas loves Bret Bielema, nobody in Wisconsin has told Barry Alvarez they miss their previous coach, the Badgers AD made sure to emphasize to national media this week.

Bielema said he took the Arkansas job because the Wisconsin position was limited, both in the opportunity to win a national championship or to attract strong assistants with good salaries. Arkansas and the SEC offered that.

But his unstated reason for leaving seems more obvious by the day, and by Alvarez’s words as well. Of course, it should have been apparent as soon as Alvarez announced he’d step in as the head coach for the Badgers in last January’s Rose Bowl, while paying himself $100,000 to handle the job. Sounds like the retired-coach-turned-AD’s dream job to us.

Bielema doesn’t have to worry about his current AD meddling in coaching matters.

If he can go 68-24 in seven years at Arkansas, it’s hard to imagine anyone needing to. And yes, if he suddenly took another job after a third straight league title, the fan base would miss him.

But even Bielema knows the truth about the coaching professional: He will be never be more loved by the fans than he is now, as he puts a close to the whirlwind tour of the Natural State. There may be down moments, and times of exhilaration, but the honeymoon is coming to an end and the love will only be earned by the results on the field.

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14 Responses to “Jim Harris: We Love You Bret Bielema and Your Sense of Humor”

  1. A-State Fan Rules
    August 21, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    The best part about this article is that it ends with an A-State banner ad!

    • Drew F.
      August 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      What ASU banner ad?

    • Hawg Fan
      August 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      A-State who?

      • A-State Fan Rules
        August 22, 2013 at 9:39 am #

        Oooooooooooooooh

  2. nchogg
    August 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Good article Jim. I enjoy the positives which is what this teams needs right now. Coach BB does a good job of communicating with the players and showing them he cares about them while letting them know what is expected. It’s not about one player but about the team. Go Hogs!

  3. Drew F.
    August 21, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    It’s becoming more and more clear why taking the Arkansas job was an easy choice for CBB.

    • Barry
      August 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

      They love BB until he starts losing, then he’s a bum! Ga redwolf

      • OmahaHog
        August 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

        Barry, what’s with all the smack towards Arkansas. Almost every one of us Hog fans wish A-State the best and watch whatever games we can get on TV, but I’m seeing a lot of negative nelly posts from too many A-State fans lately and its beginning to look pretty childish.

      • Drew F.
        August 22, 2013 at 11:30 am #

        You jealousy is unbecoming.

  4. Jefferson Davis Bear Bryant Crenshaw
    August 22, 2013 at 7:09 am #

    So its this here guy is supposed to be able to whop Bama?

    Arkansas is done gettin desprate when it gos off an hire a big 10 coach to tryin restore its former glorys. Wait? what former glorys? the only champion ship that the razorbaks ever won was really won by Bear Damn Bryant. Arkansas jist thanks they won em a champion ship that year.

    Yall does get some decent players sometimes. Maybe yall shoud just become a two year school so that after two years you can send off your decent players to AlaDamnBama. Let a coach like Nick Saban use em to win some games.

    • HogSlop85
      August 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      Not sure if you’re just a troll, or if you are that dumb. Thanks for making Arkansas look more intelligent than Alabama, not that it’s that difficult.

    • David Hubbard
      August 24, 2013 at 6:21 am #

      This Bummer fan need a lesson in their head coach’s past. Coach Saban is a former B10 coach, and this troll has the audacity to speak ill-will of CBB. Guess the Bummer fan is actually ascared(is this how they say it in Bama?) Get a life JeffDavisBearazz

  5. RazorBear
    August 22, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Agree…c’mon, ASU, a little class never hurt anyone. I REALLY want to like ASU but comments and remarks that are often posted make it difficult.

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