It's certainly a testament to how much the Razorbacks mean to the state of Arkansas when the Little Rock Touchdown Club "shatters" its attendance record for the head Hog following a historically bad 3-9 campaign.
But there was Bret Bielema on Tuesday, opening the LRTD's 2014 lineup at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock, 15 miles or so east of its usual Embassy Suites venue in a space necessary to accommodate what ended up being an overflow crowd (they ran out of food) of more than 750.
And for those 750, Bielema appears to have burned very little "political capital." Fans understand he inherited a mess. Bielema posed for pictures with LRTD Fifty Yard Line members, whose $275 membership secured reserve seating and a pre-speech photo with the coach from the dias, and the line was long.
Bielema may have endured a personal and program nightmare in 2013, but he intimated again on Tuesday that he saw it coming. Actually, he did more than that. He admitted it outright.
"I realized when I got here that it was going to be a building process."
Still, 3-9? Winless in conference play? A program record 9-game losing streak? Razorback fans know by now that Bielema is not a quick-fix guy like a certain easy-ridin' coach from our recent past. (You know, our 'previous situation.')
He's a brick-and-mortar guy.
"We're not going to skip any steps in getting to where we need to be," he stressed. Indeed - no short cuts. That was a theme he pounded home all day, whether to a room full of reporters or to the faithful gathered over lunch: Hard work matters. "If you do it right the first time, it'll pay off in the long run."
Coach B (I'm realizing now what Doc and crew have known for 18 months - typing the name "Bielema" can get tiring real quick) saved practice details for the reporters before the event. And that was fine. For the fans, he mostly channeled Lou Holtz. Watch the entire program right here (the man is funny), plus check out the rest of the 2014 LRTD lineup that'll include a long overdue induction into the SWC Hall of Fame of a cadre of Hog greats on Nov. 10.
Coach Holtz once joked to Johnny Carson that Fayetteville wasn't the end of the earth, but you could see it from there. Hitting the street following Coach B's appearance at the LRTD, the collective sentiment seemed to be: We're not there yet, but we can see the end of this rebuilding project approaching fast..
"I'm a 3-9 coach. I get it," Bielema said. "But I can guarantee you there's not a staff more prepared to give everybody in this room, in the state of Arkansas, exactly what they want."
And that (as Coach now says correctly - remember when he used to say, 'Pig Soooie'? Bless his heart) warrants a Wooooo, Pig.