FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has developed a reputation for his willingness to engage with fans and critics alike through social media.
It also has helped Bielema become the fifth-most followed coach on Twitter, according to a list compiled by the Tulsa World last week.
Bielema — who had 58,383 followers as of Saturday afternoon — only trails LSU’s Les Miles, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, Tennessee’s Butch Jones and Georgia’s Mark Richt in Twitter followers. The rest of the top 10 included UCLA’s Jim Mora, Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Nebraska’s Bo Pelini as of last Wednesday.
Bielema told the Arkansas News Bureau earlier this year recruiting is the “only driving force” behind his Twitter activity because of the ability to communicate with prospects by sending them direct messages. Bielema added: “That is a way you can correlate with prospective student athletes on a daily basis, on an hourly basis.”
But Bielema’s interactions with others have captured plenty of attention since his decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas last December. One recent exchange:
“Hey Bart we’ll never forget you in Wisconsin!!”
“Hard to forget me, when you keep following me. #moronalert #WPS”
Bielema was asked about his some of the aggressive responses he has tweeted and said it’s simply part of his makeup. In his words: “I haven’t seen many passive people win a football game.” But Bielema also added one of the other reasons he’ll react is to set the record straight about anything inaccurate.
“The only thing I have there is if I want to draw attention to someone or something that’s completely opposite of reality,” Bielema said earlier this year. “The one thing we have in this world is when you pick up a newspaper or any type of periodical that you read, or on the Internet, once you read it you think it’s true. I can go out there and print the most boldfaced lie there is and write something and people are going to believe it to be true because I said it. Just as it is with any other person.
“That’s the main thing when I usually step in is to point out a blatantly incorrect statement or something that is completely untrue.”
Arkansas, Texas Tech discuss series
Arkansas and Texas Tech have had discussions about playing each other in a nonconference series that would begin in 2014.
RedRaiderSports.com first reported the possibility of the home-and-home series Monday, with the first game likely played in Lubbock, Texas, in 2014 with the second at Arkansas in 2015. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema confirmed the discussion during an appearance on “Sports Talk With Bo Mattingly” earlier in the week.
“I’ve been engaged with that talk,” Bielema said during the radio appearance. “There has been a lot of hesitation since I’ve been here because we haven’t gotten the 2014 SEC schedule. Until that kind of gets finalized and ’15 gets finalized, we can’t move forward. But there are a lot of interesting possibilities out there – some things that I know will excite our fan base in more than one way.”
Arkansas and Texas Tech haven’t met since 1991, which was the Razorbacks’ final year in the Southwest Conference.
The series would add an intriguing nonconference opponent to Arkansas’ 2014 schedule, which also is the first season for college football’s four-team playoff.
“When you’re projecting a couple of years out, you have to factor in what you believe (the opponent) can be,” Bielema said. “The best thing is to try to take care of what services Arkansas best. You take into account fan base, history and some things that would give flavor to your schedule you can’t find in the SEC.”
Razorbacks in the NFL
Four former Razorbacks were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. But several other members of the 2012 team will have opportunities to make NFL rosters.
Ten more Arkansas players have signed as free agents or agreed to tryouts with teams. The list includes: offensive guard Alvin Bailey and defensive tackle D.D. Jones (Seattle Seahawks), running backs Dennis Johnson (Houston Texans) and Ronnie Wingo Jr. (Atlanta Falcons), linebackers Alonzo Highsmith (Miami Dolphins) and Tenarius Wright (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), safety Ross Rasner (Denver Broncos), defensive tackle Alfred Davis (Chicago Bears), cornerback Darius Winston (Cincinnati Bengals) and punter Dylan Breeding (Washington Redskins).
Breeding was named to the 2013 NFF Hampshire Honor Society last week. Breeding is the third Razorback named to the society in its seven-year existence.
The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame manages the program, which is comprised of college football players from all divisions who maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college career. A total of 703 players from 259 schools qualified for membership in the society’s seventh year, marking the highest school participation in the history of the program.
Breeding graduated in December with a 3.80 GPA and a degree in marketing management while enrolled in the Walton College of Business Honor’s Program.