Bret Bielema said some fairly outlandish things to some Arkansas fans, comments that people will probably criticize him for when they shouldn't, but we'll explain that part in a bit.
First, let's review Bielema's comments. They came at the Saline County Razorback Club annual fish fry, according to Hootens.com. Here's what the new Arkansas coach had to say:
"The reason the SEC is talked about all the time is one team, because of their dominance," Bielema said, according to Hootens.com. "But I didn't come here to play Alabama. I came here to beat Alabama.
"You can take Saban's record when he was at Michigan State and when he was a coach in the Big Ten and put it against mine, and he can't compare."
All right, get it out of your system. Yes, who does Bielema think he is to take shots at Alabama, insert your Big Ten joke, then a laugh about comparing his Big Ten record to Saban's Michigan State record which came before Saban made his mark as one of the greatest coaches in college history.
Now onto the important part: That was flipping awesome.
College football, and sports in general, needs more of this. We should celebrate this, but the opposite happens.
Coaches and players don't want to say anything interesting anymore because they get criticized for it. When someone does say anything remotely interesting (and please don't get us started on the media overreaction to "guaranteeing a win," which might be the stupidest thing in sports today) then they get hammered by every talking head who thinks they're arrogant and stepping out of line. People hate Jets coach Rex Ryan for doing this, even though he's the most interesting character among NFL coaches by a great deal and adds to the entertainment of the game. So watch: Bielema will get ripped for this, he will almost assuredly tone down his comments, and we all lose. What fun.
There is nothing wrong with what Bielema said. Why wouldn't he have the goal of beating Alabama? Everyone in the SEC should. And while his comments comparing Saban's Big Ten record to his are kind of funny, they are technically true.
Alabama fans will get fired up, and they should. That's good for the sport. It's great for the Oct. 19 game between Arkansas and Alabama (even though, unfortunately, good luck getting Bielema to repeat any of this in a regular media setting as the game gets closer). It adds some juice. And Arkansas fans, players and staff should be fired up too. Everyone should want a coach with a little swagger and personality. Wouldn't you want to play for a guy like that?
That isn't how this will play out. As the comments get more traction, there will be a lot of finger wagging and "how dare you be interesting!" admonishments. Bielema will keep it closer to the vest next time.
And it's hard to see how that is a more enjoyable outcome for anyone.
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