SEC Football Head Coach Evaluation: Arkansas Razorbacks’ Bret Bielema

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Dec 29, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema celebrates the victory against the Texas Longhorns in the 2014 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Bret Bielema has a track-record predating Arkansas that includes 3 conference championships and a multitude of First-Team All-Americans and future NFL stars.  While he has not yet attained that level of success with the Razorbacks, fans can feel confident that Bielema knows how to reach the top.

As much turmoil as the Arkansas program endured before Bielema’s arrival, it is also comforting to know that he is doing an excellent job with young men off the field.  The Arkansas Razorbacks have posted the two highest cumulative Fall GPA’s in the history of the program in back-to-back years under Bielema.  This is a nice plus, but academics do not keep football coaches employed.

Bielema has always run a pro-style system and has implemented it at Arkansas as well.  While many other programs around the country are turning to hurry-up/spread offenses, Bielema is content to have his Razorbacks punish opposing defenses and chew clock.  While it may seem counter-intuitive, it also gives him the advantage of matchup problems.

While strong defensive units like LSU and Ole Miss have geared their defenses to stopping the spread, they struggled against Arkansas’ grueling rushing attack.  While the two defenses only combined to give up 47 points  according to, both offenses were shutout.  Their defenses struggled to get off the field and as a result, their offenses never found any sort of rhythm.

You may point to the Alabama game and say that not all teams are phased by Arkansas’s style of play compared to the other SEC teams.  But a 14-13 victory for Alabama against a team that finished 7-6 does not exactly support that theory.

Bielema’s pro-style program also attracts talent to the Razorbacks.  He has had 34 draft picks since 2009, which is better than any other coach with less than 10 years’ experience.

Bret Bielema’s program attracts talent, wins conference championships, causes matchup problems, wins games, and has caused his name to be mentioned on a few occasions when NFL teams begin combing the college ranks for future coaches.  So what could the problem be?  What might his faults be that could have fans wishing he would have stayed at Wisconsin?

Statistics, facts, and numbers taken from  unless otherwise noted.

Next: Bielema's Poorest Points