Bret Bielema: 'It's not alright to accept it'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday December 30, 2016


Perhaps it was a fitting end to an inconsistent season for Arkansas, leading Virginia Tech 24-0 at halftime and losing 35-24 in the Belk Bowl.

FBS teams with a halftime lead of at least 24 points were 102-0 this season. Arkansas suspended one player before the game for shoplifting during a shopping spree, and another player was ejected during the game for spitting at a Virginia Tech player. The loss ended the Hogs' season at 7-6 and leaves Bielema 25-26 in four years.

“I apologize to the people that made the trip, fans, family,” Bielema said. “We couldn’t close it out. I know it meant a lot to them. We had a couple guys speak up at the end of my talk, about guys moving on and coming back and what we need to do to move forward, because it’s not alright to accept it.”

Arkansas turned the ball over three times in a span of 11 snaps at one point and four times total in the second half. In the first half, quarterback Austin Allen was 11-for-13 for 2015 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. In the second, he was 7-for-18 for 63 yards with three interceptions and six sacks.

“Never seen the tide turn so quickly against us in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams,” Bielema said. “I wish I could put my finger on one thing that’s said or not said. I told our guys it was simple. In the first half, we played what we were coached, things we see, ask and do. They ran the same defensive shift in the first half. I believe we jumped maybe twice. The second half, we couldn’t get a snap off.”

It was an up and down season for the Hogs all season. They outscored opponents 257-170 in the first half, but were outscored 234-137. Ending the season like this summed up the season, and Bielema said it dated back a year. That's the message heading into 2017.

“In a microcosm, it’s a little bit of what I’ve seen every day,” he said. “I remember going back to January, February, March, the inconsistency of us being on time for a team workout, the inconsistency of guys we should count on to be accountable and do things right. For me as a head coach, I have to be more consistent in how I handle those things to make sure there’s really no other option than 100 percent all-in.

“Because when you’re in a place like Arkansas and you need to play at a higher level on gameday and in your preparation, you can’t settle for anything less than what is needed to make it happen.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.