Bret Bielema was hired as Arkansas’ head coach on Tuesday, ending athletic director Jeff Long’s eight-month coaching search. Obviously, there was plenty of reaction to Bielema’s decision to move to the Razorbacks. Here’s a sampling, which includes Arkansas players and college football analysts.
“This is no charmer like Houston Nutt or mad scientist like Bobby Petrino. This is Joe Sixpack, with a booming baritone and a cocky edge. He’ll go right at Nick Saban and Les Miles, not to mention Kevin Sumlin. He may lack polish in certain areas as a head coach—late-game clock management has been an issue — but he won’t be intimidated. Bielema is confident to the core.” — Steve Greenberg, The Sporting News
“He’s definitely got the resume with the Rose Bowls and Big Ten championships. We’re excited about him. … He literally did come out of the blue, but that happens everywhere. From meeting with him and the things he had to say, and the direction he’s trying to take this program, we’re all looking forward to it.” — Arkansas QB Brandon Allen after the team met with Bielema on Wednesday.
“Bielema can succeed at Arkansas. If he can keep the future Darren McFaddens and Tyler Wilsons in state and then pluck the rest of his roster from Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida — bringing along current Wisconsin assistant Charlie Partridge would do wonders in the Sunshine State — the Razorbacks can be competitive in college football’s toughest division.” — Andy Staples, Sports Illustrated
“He’s great. You can see he has a lot of confidence. He really relieved a lot of tension in that team meeting about 30 seconds into speaking. I know there was a lot of tension for all of us not knowing who he is as a person, but as soon as he came in there he made every one feel comfortable. He told us what he believes in, what his philosophies are, who he is as a person.” — Arkansas center Travis Swanson
“… Bielema played this exactly right. He gave Wisconsin seven years, brought the program to its ceiling and left before bumping his head on it. Now he’s got a new challenge at a school with plenty of resources and a fan base that will unite behind him. It’s a fresh start, and a lucrative one at that. In a sport where a coach can get fired two years after winning a national title, that’s never a bad thing.” – Dan Wolken, college football writer for USA Today
“I joke and tell people it’s about time they talk about the defense around here. I think it’s great having a defensive-minded coach. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. I don’t think we can win a SEC championship without a great defense. I think that’s one thing we can do because that is what he has done in the past, have a great defense. — Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith
“Bielema’s philosophy figures to fit in well in the SEC. If he follows his Wisconsin ways, Arkansas can look forward to a crushing ground game to go along with a solid defense. Sounds a lot like a certain defending national champion. Makes sense. The last sitting Big Ten coach to leave for the SEC was Nick Saban in 2000.” — Dennis Dodd, college football writer for CBSSports.com