Can Bielema Infuse The Hogs With Toughness That Petrino Only Talked About?

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“Don’t bring knife to a gun fight.” Despite this timeless bit of sound counsel, at times during the biggest games of the Petrino era it seemed that the Hogs showed up for Saturday duels armed with much less than a knife. More like a KFC spork or a pair of those rounded scissors they issue you in kindergarten to prevent you from trying to cut the kid next to you named Todd.

So while Bobby Petrino achieved heights the Razorbacks hadn’t seen in decades, the ability to break through and topple teams the likes of Alabama remains the central, and really only criticism of his tenure. That and the whole humping the assistant thing. During those annual contests with Bama and other elite SEC foes, it seemed the Hogs possessed the fragility of an M & M candy shell. A piñata of turnovers, false starts, arm tackles and mental mistakes, just waiting to spill forth its bounty after a few well placed shots.

Though we don’t know how Bret Bielema will fare as the Hogs head coach, Pork Shank Redemption is excited about the possibility that he will bring a much needed toughness—something Petrino talked about but his teams rarely possessed. But we base our optimism less on Bret Bielema’s record of smash mouth football at Wisconsin, and more on the image he projects. He just looks like a coach. And that’s comforting.

If you we’re casting a Lifetime movie about a courageous teenage quarterback who overcomes a speech impediment to call the signals in the JV championship, electrifying a town with his on the field exploits, you would most certainly put Bret Bielema in the role as Head Coach. Big guy, flat top haircut, dented facial features and a gravely voice. Action.

Even though he has never coached a down at Arkansas, we are willing to make the following assumptions based sheerly on his football-ish  appearance. None of these claims have been validated, but they give us comfort on cold nights, when other teams are well into bowl preparations.

  • No one ever has to tell Coach Bielema to “put on his big boy pants.”  Trust us. They are on. Because that’s all he owns. His skinny pants are 48s. Just sayin’. And that’s just they way we like it. Maybe his imposing physical stature will convince Nick Saban to hang less than 50 on us next year.
  • If the honor of your wife was besmirched by a belligerent opposing SEC fan at a moderately priced seafood establishment, Bielema would deftly rip a decorative boat oar off the wall and fashion it into a weapon to subdue the offending patron.
  • Bret Bielema would be much more comfortable in the front yard of a fraternity house, pounding Keystone and watching a couch burn, than he would attending a stage adaptation, of well, anything.
  • If you were distraught after being dumped by your girlfriend, Coach B would cheer you up by breaking stuff against his head.
  • This guy has made and fired a potato gun. With proficiency. Book it.
  • Five second rule my ass. That dude would chisel a day old Goober off a movie theater floor if he deemed there to be nutritional value there. It ain’t gross. That’s just being Bielema.

I am certain that he is susceptible to a stupid dare. Just like your most lovable guy friend from college, who you only referred to by his last name, if goaded, Bielema would streak, steal the Pope-mobile or ingest an entire vodka spiked melon—in other words, pretty much anything if posed in dare form.

Looking back on the string of recent U of A coaches, Bret Bielema’s tough but approachable, everyman persona seems refreshing. Bobby Petrino was a coaching genius but a social misfit who would probably just as soon hit you as look at you. Houston Nutt was an insecure egotist with the combativeness of a middle school cheerleader. And Danny Ford was tough, but primarily on the English language and Razorback fans’ patience. So, we welcome the change in Bielema. At least what we’ve seen in a little over a week on the job.

Let’s hope we feel this magnanimous about Coach B come this time next year.

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