…year for Bret. He will have a competitive in the SEC West team or he will be encouraged to move on just like Robb Smith. Not fired, just asked to find somewhere else. He has his recruits, his staff, he has sufficient facilities, and he has had sufficient t!ime to build his program and to prove he has what it takes to take us to the next level or not.
It has not been a smooth process for Bret.
He has had just as hard of a time keeping assistants at Arkansas as he had at Wisconsin and he does not have the excuse any more that his athletic director won’t give him enough money to compete for them.
His signature powerful offensive line running game leading to devastating play action passing, after initially working, has gradually been getting weaker and weaker each year. We occasionally have run well, never have been powerful in short yardage situations, and have always struggled against the athletic, stunting, defensive linemen in the SEC.
One reason the defense has struggled is CBB’s recruiting on defense has failed to match Petrino’s. His offensive recruiting has exceeded Petrino’s. Go figure that. The lowlight of the recruiting struggles is the total failure last year to get any cornerbacks initially and only a reach JC late recruit kept them from being totally shut out at a very weak position that sorely needed help.
He has built a high character team that prides itself on mental and physical toughness, yet, they collapsed late in games and late in the season this past year producing three of the most embarrassing losses in a Razorback season, ever! Auburn, Missouri, and Virginia Tech games created the impression that this program has “risen to its level of incompetence and is now falling back into mediocrity.”
There is reason to hope for a resurgence of the program under CBB:
a. His offensive system is being used successfully by Stanford, Wisconsin, Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Cal has just dumped Sonny Dykes, a big spread advocate and hired an assistant from Wisconsin to implement the same type of system. There is no need to panic and rush out to hire a spread coach. His system will work. There is something else that has been missing that is holding the program back.
b. Even though the evidence has not emerged on the field, his recruiting has been strong and is gradually getting stronger, at least at most offensive positions. We are nationally recognized as being a great program for pro-style tight ends, qb’s, power running backs, and offensive linemen. He has recruited Florida and Louisiana far better than any Razorback coach in history. He has gradually improved the Texas recruiting but it still doesn’t match past Razorback success in the Lone Star state. This is where the focus needs to be to take the program to the next level. It is time for the extra investment in Texas recruiting to bear fruit, particularly on defense.
It is time for CBB and his program to become truly lean and mean and have a breakout season. (It wouldn’t hurt him or the program for him to fix the fact he looks like the one that is pregnant in his family.) If he ends up with seven wins next year, there won’t be another. JMVVVVVVHO.
What gives you that idea? He has not lost any assistants that he truly wanted to keep. Robb Smith being a prime example. Two years ago, when he was a hot commodity, Robb got a big raise to keep him. Now, after a horrible defensive year, he’s invited to slip out the side door. Everyone wants a new DC; well, they’re going to get one. What difference does it make whether he was fired or just invited to accept the next available opportunity? Jim Cheney, Sam Pittman, Chris Ash, more of the same.
One important facet of any head coach’s job is finding the right assistants and hanging onto them when competitor’s try to steal them. When you have a higher than normal turnover on your staff, the head coach is failing at one of those two chores. When power 5 programs are trying to steal your assistants, that confirms you have made some good hires. When he convinces those assistants to stay, the head coach has successfully protected his program. Keeping Dan Enos when several programs wanted him was a good thing. Matching Alabama’s offer to convince Pittman to stay was another good job by the head Hog. Trying desperately and failing to keep Sam Pittman from going to Georgia (including hauling the whole line to his house to try and get him to change his mind) was not. Some turnover is inevitable in this profession. Anderson may turn out to be a better coach than Pittman but there is no doubt that CBB wanted Pittman to stay and failed to keep him. Too much staff turnover is a serious problem that CBB validated when asked why he left Wisconsin. He and we can’t turn around and deny it is also a serious problem when it happens on The Hill. JMVVVVHO.
2. His signature powerful offensive line running game leading to devastating play action passing, after initially working, has gradually been getting weaker and weaker each year. We occasionally have run well, never have been powerful in short yardage situations, and have always struggled against the athletic, stunting, defensive linemen in the SEC.
I pretty much agree with everything you wrote except this. I would say it was pretty darn good last year with BA at QB. So it hasn’t gotten weaker and weaker each year. We would have won both of the last 2 games IF AA doesn’t throw 2 int’s in our endzone against Mizzo, and give WV a very short field several times with int’s, and Drew Morgan doesn’t fumble at the goal line. None of which BB could have prevented.
Enos’s offense has done well despite the running game, not because of it. He put 30 points on Bama and could not run at all. The offensive line last year was much weaker than the year before. The running game in the year before was not as good as the previous year. We have not been powerful in short yardage situations in three years. Not against Toledo, Louisiana Tech, nobody but the rent a wins. Bielema’s teams were known for powerful offensive lines until the last 2-3 years at Arkansas. He is struggling to get back to that point. BA’s offense did well despite the running game, not because of it.
I am not ready to throw the towel on coach B. I agree with just about all you outlined. There are a lot of good things in place. We have red-shirts and new recruits that will step up. Offense is going to be better and at SEC level. He needs to get a good defensive coach and rebuild the defense. The parts are there. They just need restructure and different scheme. I know we are all burned, embarrassed and angry. But coal heads should prevail, and do what is best for the program. We are almost there, we need to let him keep up his good recruiting. Good players cure all ills.
This is a rather large overstatement. The team had struggles in the red zone, but to say that the offense and the OC have thrived despite the running game the last few years just isn’t true. It was true in 2016 but not 2015 and 2014.
In 2014, they were 5th in the 14-team league in rushing (ahead of Bama) and were 11th in passing yards per game.
In 2015, they were 4th in the league in rushing yards per game (2 yards per game less than #3 Bama). They were 3rd in SEC in passing yards per game.
In 2016, they were 10th in the league in rush offense and 3rd in the league in pass offense.
The offensive line struggled in 2016. No doubt. But to act like they have had a steady decline and inability to run the ball, effectively, in 2014 and 2015 when they were in the top part of the league in rushing and had 2 1000 yard rushers and a very good OL is revisionist history.
Last year’s OL included 6 guys (Kirkland, Ragnow, Skipper, Tretola, Henry & Sprinkle) who eventually made some sort of All-SEC team and have either played or will play in the NFL. That doesn’t include Smothers, who started the last 26 games of his career and was solid.
Characterizing last year’s OL as weak(er) or uncharacteristic of a Bielema OL just isn’t accurate.