Sully Says: One more game for Coach B
It no longer seems to be a matter of "if" for Bret Bielema. Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the three most logical guesses on when Arkansas will pull the plug on the Bret Bielema era.
I've said it before. Bret Bielema is a dangerous spokesman. He's a hope dealer. When Razorback fans think of the Bielema era the quote that will ring in their ears is "we're close."
Last season, Coach based his optimism on having senior leaders at every position group for the first time in his coaching career.
This year, a new defensive coordinator, a new 3-4 defense, and an offense that was rock solid up the middle. We also heard throughout the fall that Austin Allen was operating at a Tom Brady like efficiency, yet when the season opened on a Thursday night, none of that was evident. We've seen an anemic offense and an out-manned defense.
Back to back seasons of over-promising and under-delivering will cost him his job.
24-7 at Missouri and 24-0 against Virginia Tech: a reminder of the halftime leads the Hogs coughed up to end last season.
The Hogs ended the 2015 season by winning seven of their last nine games. They were competitive in every game they played that season.
I have no idea what went so wrong the past two seasons.
Coaching, recruiting or developing? Take your pick. They may have suffered in all three areas. Some might contend that Coach B lost his edge. He started enjoying "Being Bret Bielema" too much.
He never beat Alabama or Texas A&M. Those losses to the Aggies represent another troubling part of the Bielema era: finishing games.
There were some excellent moments.
His first two SEC wins.
How much fun was the back-to-back shutout wins over 17th- ranked LSU and 8th-rated Ole Miss? They finished the 2014 season with a 31-7 drubbing of those hated Horns in the Texas Bowl.
The best football of the Bielema era came in the 2015 season. A road win at Tennessee, a four-overtime thriller over Auburn, the "Henry heave" and the convincing bowl win over Kansas State. The hope was that season would be the launching point for bigger things.
One of Coach B's most satisfying wins came early last season, when they rallied late to win in overtime at TCU. I remember Coach was so happy that he was up for extending his post-game press conference.
Not enough happy press conferences.
I will remember one Bret Bielema suggestion, "to champion the moment."
I've had a chance to watch Coach in all kinds of settings, on and off the air, and he's the same guy. He does his best to stay engaged and make the best out of every situation.
In most situations, he was blue-collar Bret, a great fit for this state.
He just didn't win enough.