Bret Bielema spoke at a Razorback Club event in Searcy Wednesday night, and it was the first time he's spoken publicly since the announcement that a 10-second rule had been proposed to keep offenses from snapping the ball too quickly.
He was asked about that in Searcy, and the reaction to his comments has not been, uh, good. At all. It's basically a disaster.
The main backlash is due to Bielema's citing of the recent death of Cal football player Ted Agu
[Bielema] pointed to the recent death of California football player Ted Agu during a training run, saying the inability to substitute an injured player between plays could lead to injury or death.
"If one of those players is on the field for me, and I have no timeouts, I have no way to stop the game," Bielema said. "And he raises his hand to stop the game, and I can't do it. What am I supposed to do?
"What are we supposed to do when we have a player who tells us he's injured?"
He also offered a direct counter to the claim there's no hard evidence of increased risk of injury.
"Death certificates," Bielema said. "There's no more anything I need than that."
To be clear,Bielema's "death certificate" comment regarding Cal player was in reference to him reportedly testing pos. for sickle cell trait— Troy Schulte (@TroySchulteADG) February 21, 2014
If one of Bielema's players has that trait — he has "half a dozen" — he wants time to be able to get that player out of the game.— Troy Schulte (@TroySchulteADG) February 21, 2014
Of course, Agu's tragic death occurred during an off-season run, not on the field and hardly attributable to any particular style of offense. In fact, there has yet to be a player die from HUNH-related causes as far as we know.
And players who are hurt are certainly welcome to remain lying, kneeling, or sitting on the ground to indicate their inability to continue play, and referees are by rule supposed to stop the game to allow the player to be substituted.
Our friends at the Cal SB Nation site weren't pleased. They called the comment "Disgusting. Insensitive. Callous. Vile. Despicable. Abhorrent."
We will shortly get an apology from Bret Bielema that will begin, "Recently, I said something vile, dumb, insensitive and illogical…"— ESPN Pac-12 (@ESPN_Pac12blog) February 21, 2014
Well Bret Bielema did his cause - and himself - no favors tonight.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) February 21, 2014
So, Bret Bielema is making even more friends in the college football community. This is FAR more outrageous speech than Richard Sherman.— Matt Zemek (@MattZemek) February 21, 2014
I hope Auburn beats them by 90. RT @BarrettSallee: Underplayed angle of the up-tempo debate...Arkansas at Auburn on Week 1.— Spencer Hall (@edsbs) February 21, 2014
Those are some of the more tame ones. Do a twitter search for Bielema and it's not pretty.
But he also said he's excited about Clay Jennings! All in all seems like a solid night out with the fans.
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