When Arkansas officially “chose not to renew the contract” of interim coach John L. Smith, athletic director Jeff Long said he planned to have a new coach in place by early December. More specifically, within 10-14 days.
Well, it’s Day 10 and the rumors of who might fill the vacancy in Fayetteville were firing all over the Twitterverse Tuesday afternoon. First, Baylor coach Art Briles appeared to be close to being the Razorbacks’ next coach, but Joe Schad of ESPN reports that Briles is now working on a new contract with BU.
Then, the attention shifted to Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, who like Briles, was hired and then not hired in a matter of minutes. Gundy was also connected to the Tennessee job and reportedly interviewed with the Vols.
It was all quite entertaining, really.
But the bombshell was dropped around 3 p.m. ET when Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported that Arkansas hired Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. The Associated Press and ESPN’s Mark Schlabach later confirmed the report and added that Bielema wants to coach his team in the Rose Bowl against Stanford. The Badgers are three days removed from a blowout win over Nebraska in the Big Ten championship game.
The school is expected to announce the hire later in the afternoon.
Last year, Bielema was quoted “We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC in any way, shape or form” when referencing Ohio State and former Florida head coach Urban Meyer‘s recruiting tactics.
Guess that’s changed.
“I was very surprised when Bret told me he was taking the offer from Arkansas. He did a great job for us during his seven years as head coach, both on the field and off. I want to thank him for his work and wish him the best at Arkansas.
“I have a responsibility to our student-athletes, our football family and our fans, one that I take very seriously. It is my responsibility to ensure that the football program continues at a high level, and I have already started the process of trying to find a new head coach.
“Along with finding a new coach, my other main objective is to make sure that our student-athletes, specifically our seniors playing in their final game as Badgers, have a tremendous experience in the Rose Bowl. We will do everything within our power to make that happen.”