This is an excerpt from a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in its entirety here.
For decades, it was hard to imagine there would ever be a more celebrated joyride in this state than when the Bandit avoided Smokey through South Arkansas 35 years ago, but Bobby Petrino changed all that.
It’s been exactly one year since Petrino and Jessica Dorrell forever changed the meaning of April Fool’s Day for Razorback fans and completely altered the course of Razorback history. And not just altered the course like taking a strange exit off the interstate, but more like taking your compact car off the paved street and onto a rocky stretch of dirt, not knowing what awaits at the end but not sure your little car can even make it down the road anyway.
Fortunately, after Long drove us down that dirt road, flattened a couple of tires, and poked a hole in the gas tank, Bret Bielema was the destination. Bielema has excited everyone to the point of forgetting last season even existed.
Bielema appears to be the exact opposite of Petrino in almost every way. He comes off as personable, relaxed, honest, and fun. Nothing you’d associate with Petrino. Further, Petrino didn’t seem to care at all that people thought he was a jerk. He’d do things like curse at Les Miles on national television, admonish a reporter in the middle of a press conference for wearing another team’s hat, or ditch the Falcons with nothing but a note in the lockers without worry of consequence. Bielema, however, isn’t shy about taking on his critics on Twitter, regardless of the pettiness and insignificance of the offending attack from critical fans.
But one thing Razorback fans hope they do have in common is winning percentage.
Which leads to the obvious question: is Arkansas better off with Bielema going forward than if the Petrino fiasco had never happened?