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Excerpt: Bielema Can And Must Improve Upon Wisconsin Recruiting At Arkansas

Stephen Dunn

Here is an excerpt of my column published this morning at Sporting Life Arkansas. The basic premise is that I believe in order to win an SEC championship, Bielema will have to have higher-rated recruiting classes than he had at Wisconsin, and that I think he can do that at Arkansas.

After doing a bit of research, I found out he worked with one of the smallest recruiting budgets in all of BCS-level football at Wisconsin. As you can see in the column, Arkansas' recruiting budget is more than triple that of Wisconsin's, so it should be exciting to see the results Bielema can bring in from the added resources. You can read the whole thing here.

Traditionally, Arkansas normally doesn’t have classes listed among the elite, but it can happen. Bobby Petrino’s 2009 class was ranked 16th, and his 2008 class would have been ranked higher if Ryan Mallett’s transfer had been included. Those are the two classes that led to Arkansas run among the college football elite in 2010 and 2011. It’s not a coincidence. It’s hard to imagine Bielema being as successful in the SEC as everyone wants him to be if his recruiting classes are ranked the same as his Wisconsin classes.

The good news for Razorback fans is that he’ll have better resources to bring those recruits to Fayetteville than he had to bring them to Madison. Much has been made of Bielema’s comments about the low salaries for his assistants at Wisconsin, and the ability to pay and retain assistants was a big draw for him to come to Arkansas.

The less-publicized upgrade in resources will be the recruiting budget. At Wisconsin, Bielema’s recruiting budget was among the smallest of any BCS program. In 2011, it was the smallest of the ten Big 10 schools required to disclose their budgets at $204,181. If the difference in budgets continues, Bielema should enjoy a budget more than triple that of Wisconsin’s. Arkansas 2011 budget was $666,419. And it’s not as though there are so many great football players in Wisconsin that the coaching staff didn’t have to travel far to haul in great players. Florida, which does enjoy that luxury, had a 2011 budget of $602,929.

Again, this is posted Sporting Life Arkansas, a new site that we at Expats will be doing some work with and recommend you guys check out. Writers like Jim Harris, Rex Nelson, Evin Demirel, and many more are already on board and doing great work.