Arkansas ventured up north and nabbed Brett Bielema as its next football coach. Several high profile coaches such as Mike Gundy (OK State), Gus Malzahn (Arkansas St), and Chris Petersen (Boise State) were rumored to be early favorites for the job, but Bielema appeared to emerge from the shadows to land the gig.
Details of his contract have not been announced yet, but the coach was making $2.5 million at Wisconsin. Bielema should hit the jackpot at Arkansas but the expectations will be much greater. The Hogs finished with an 11-2 record at the end of last season. And if you recall, the Razorbacks started this season ranked in the top ten. Before the Bobby Petrino scandal broke, fans had their sights set on the national championship game. The team ended up going 4-8 this season.
Now while I believe Bielema is certainly capable of being a good coach at Arkansas, in my mind, he’s not a home-run hire. Sure, he went 68-24 during seven-seasons at Wisconsin and even led the Badgers to 3 straight Rose Bowl appearances but as a Razorbacks fan I wouldn’t take solace in that stat. He’s winless at Pasadena (0-2 in the Rose Bowl game) and has a losing record versus Top 25 teams (10-13). Versus the Top 10, Bielema is 2-6 all-time. He hasn’t won the big games but at Arkansas he’ll be expected to do just that every weekend.
The pressure will be on Bielema to consistently produce Razorback squads capable of competing against the likes of LSU and Alabama. He’ll get a pass next season, but I believe anything short of a bowl-berth for the Razorbacks in 2013 is unacceptable. It’s true that Money talks, so I don’t fault Bielema for abandoning his post at Wisconsin but he just doesn’t seem like the right fit for Arkansas. Even though Bielema hit the payday with this move,for some reason I feel as if he’ll eventually lose more by heading to Arkansas.