Chris Bahn: Bret Bielema Looks Fully Committed

Bret Bielema Looks Fully Committed

Bret Bielema looks fully committed
now that the offseason is officially complete.

This isn’t shocking news, of course. Arkansas Razorback football players reported last week for preseason camp and the opening game kicks off in less than month.

But what really seemed to suggest that football was here were camp photos and videos of Bielema that caught a friend’s eye and prompted him to send the following text:

“Should I be worried Bielema has a beard and looks to wear the same clothes for the past 3 days?”

While my buddy was joking (I think) about Bielema’s appearance, his description of the coach was pretty accurate. Bielema did look unshaven, and while it’s possible he just has a lot of the same Nike gear or maybe some of the camp footage was recycled, it also seems entirely possible that he’s been sleeping in his office during the first few days of camp.

Because for all of the things we learned or had affirmed about Bielema this offseason — quick wit, engaging public speaker, lover of tiny dogs, serial tweeter — at the core of it all was a guy driven to succeed on the football field and a coach who understands how to deliver a message.

So if we found out that Bret Bielema really has been catching z’s on office furniture, rather than his $1.5 million home, would it be so hard to believe? From nearly everything we’ve seen or heard from him so far, this is a coach trying to get his players to find the right attitude and give off a certain vibe.

Even the tiny dog photos left the impression of a guy who was tough enough not to care that people might laugh at his pets. Owning the fact that you love your tiny dogs sends a message. It just does.

So does rocking the I’m-too-consumed-with-camp-to-bother-with-a-shave look. Bielema, through strength coach Ben Herbert, has been working hard to transform not just the bodies of players, but also their mindset.

Take a closer look at some of those before and after photos from the weight room that are circulating online. What you see in formerly baby-faced Brey Cook, for example, is a guy who transformed his body in the weight room, but also has the look of somebody you don’t want to battle. Cook’s transformation also included a mohawk and a full beard. (Check out Ben Herbert Is a Bad Ass Who Makes His Players Bad Asses, Too for before and after shots of Cook and Kiero Small.)

Travis Swanson showed up to camp with a mohawk.  He told reporters that more of his offensive line mates planned to follow suit.

This isn’t to suggest that crazy haircuts are going to help this offensive line block LSU’s defensive line any better. They do, however, help project a certain image and mindset that the team needs to compete in the SEC.

Some guys are projecting it through their look; others are delivering through their talk. Consider a recent report on Trey Flowers from Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau. Flowers has typically been content to stay in the background and not say a whole lot. But there he was earlier this week delivering a speech to his teammates after practice.

“It’s just about not letting anybody take food off our plate,” Flowers said. “Not letting heat take the food. Not letting being fatigued, being sore. It’s just a dog mentality. Stray dog out there that has to eat. That was pretty much the message. Embracing a winning attitude, having the will to win and refuse to lose.”

Arkansas didn’t have much fight last year. We can all agree on that right? It became clear early on in the season.

Will the Razorbacks have it this year in Bielema’s inaugural season? Hard to know until we see the finished product on the field, but until then, the photos and words provide some encouragement. And it becomes a little easier to forget about how weak the team seemed to be in 2012.

Tags: , , , , , , ,