Jack Crowe: Quick Turnaround or ‘Bielema on Way Out’


Earlier today, Paul Finebaum had the chance to visit with former Arkansas head football coach Jack Crowe, and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Bret Bielema and his Razorback  team’s performance through the first three weeks of the season. We’ll step back and let  you read the transcript for yourself. It’s a doozy.

PF: Jack, you were the head coach at Arkansas in the early ’90s. Things were rolling along well, then Frank Broyles made the decision to go to the SEC and made it extremely difficult. You ended up losing your job there. You know the culture of Arkansas because you worked there and you keep up with it. Bret Bielema — much was expected this year and it has been a disastrous start. Your assessment of him and that program.

JC: Well, they don’t have Frank Broyles, finally, so there’s at least maybe some things — Bret’s got the season. But I’m telling you, to have these last two games just says that his plan isn’t working emotionally because they have 500 yards and can’t go through the red zone because they turned it into a pass-only day? I think he’s on the way out, to be honest with you, if he doesn’t have some major successes. I mean, they could beat Texas A&M . . .

PF: Let me make sure I heard you correctly. You said you think he could be on the way out if he doesn’t turn this around quickly, is that right?

JC: Well, I would say that because if they don’t beat Texas A&M where do they go? This is a big week!

PF: I agree with you on that.

JC: The thing is, today they’ve got a lot of money invested. They move a lot slower.

PF: It’s interesting, Jack. I was in Fayetteville two and a half weeks ago having lunch with some friends who are big Arkansas people, and I said, “What’s the deal on Bret Bielema?” This was the day before the opener. My friends out there said he’s the most popular person in the state. Everyone loves Bret Bielema. That was two and a half weeks ago!

JC: He’s got that down-to-earth kinda swagger the Razorbacks love, and I may be wrong, but I don’t think they will accept mediocrity very much longer and they’ve been mediocre for a long time. Would you not say they’ve been mediocre for a while?

PF: Oh, no, no — listen, everyone would agree. Even though he had not won many games, those two SEC games he won last year, against Ole Miss and LSU, were just major beatdowns and you had to expect that was going to continue.

JC: Yup. Well, I have some connections, you may have better ones. If you tell me that . . .

PF: No, no. Remember Jack, what I saw was two weeks ago. You know and I know two and a half weeks is a lifetime in college football.

JC: I’ll tell you that in that state, that’s one school, one state. They pour everything they’ve got into that program. They’ll fill that thing up but I’ll tell you what — it’ll be just like we’ve seen in some other stadiums. When you start seeing empty spaces when they play at home, then there’s gonna be problems, and I think he’s gotta come out of there and beat Texas A&M. He’s gotta have some big wins going out or he’s not gonna be able to recruit. That’s the issue. If he doesn’t get to a bowl game and finish strong, what in the world? Arkansas is a very difficult program to recruit to. It doesn’t have the recruiting base in Texas that it was in the Southwest Conference. It doesn’t have Florida, it doesn’t have Louisiana and Mississippi and  Georgia and Alabama. It’s like Tennessee. And you’re about as good as your perception is when you leave the state. If he has mediocrity one more time, anybody who knows anything about football is gonna know he’s not gonna get any more players there. And that’s what they’re missing. They’re missing the four or five really explosive players that we associate whenever Arkansas is a strong program. They have some names that you know. I don’t see that on the field when I see them play. I think they’re a tough Arkansas team when they run it and they’re committed to running it and they play tough run defense, nobody wants to go play them. Nobody.

PF: Great to talk to you again Jack. Hope to see you soon.

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