Bret and Jen were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedule, and on their 3-year anniversary no less, to come and speak to the Razorback faithful in attendance. The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of fame had some live music out in the lobby and Oklahoma Joe's BBQ, which Bret aptly described as "pretty good." I don't know if my wife would accept it for my anniversary, but Jen seemed to just roll with it.
I won't go into too much detail, but I though there were some good stories to share.
After we called the Hogs, Bret got up to speak and talked about when he and Jen first came for their introductory press conference, it was made very clear to them that they needed to get the Hog Call correct. Bret said they were of course very coachable and did some Googling just to make sure they got it right.
He briefly discussed last season and while 7-6 isn't where he wants the team to be ultimately (and is his 2nd worst record as a head coach), he sees it as a launching point.
When discussing the trip to Dallas last year, he remarked on how his team acted like a bunch of little schoolgirls when Jerry spoke to the team, and that Keon Hatcher "literally fainted" as he was such a Cowboys fan, but later rallied to get a picture.
As he continued to talk about Dallas, he remarked on the infamous tripping call, and asked the referee how many of those he's called, and the referee told him that tripping call was his first one...
He went on through the season including talking to Trey Flowers after the Mississippi State game. Trey was asking him "Why coach?" and sobbing. Bret just told him to keep the faith and reminded him that in the Arkansas football program, we earn our wins and our losses. He quickly moved on to how proud he was of the team's preparation going in to earning their 17-0 shutout over LSU and the 34-0 shutout over Ole Miss, and reminded us that back to back shutouts of Top 10 teams hasn't been done before. Ever.
As he moved on, he started to discuss Jonathan Williams' run against Texas that put Arkansas on the Texas 1-and-a-half yard line with the clock running down. He talked about the play call and how he wanted to sit on it 3 times because "they can't do a thing about it"
He then ran down the recruiting class, but spent a good deal of time talking about Hjalte Froholdt, and pronounced his name a few times for good measure. His recruiting process was very special to Bret, because he had this family that didn't really know the United States and the college football scene and had very little bias. Their choice ultimately was based on Hjalte waking up the next morning and asking his parents "when can I go back?" He also talked about when Hjalte comes to Arkansas, it's not like some of these kids where the parents are just a few hours drive away. Hjalte's parents are in Denmark. Hjalte's mother took a hold of Bret's face and told him that they're trusting Bret with their son. "This is heavy," Bret said.
When running down returning players, returning coaches, and new coaches, he talked about how installing the new offense felt like last season with the defense and simplifying things so players will be able to think faster. New running backs coach, Jemal Singleton told him in an interview that it's just football, it's not rocket science. Singleton took rocket science at the Air Force Academy, and it was really hard.
Then the questions began.
One fan asked Bielema to talk a little about Brandon Allen. Bret started to talk about Austin actually and how proud he was of the way Austin stepped up as a freshman into the Ole Miss game. That was really hard and took a lot of guts. It was a better situation than Brandon was thrown into as a freshman. Can you imagine having to step up as a freshman and play against Alabama? And they knew all week they were getting a freshman? That kinda stuff can cause some scars and some flinching, but Bret firmly believes BA is our guy. After we whooped Texas and Brandon had that cowboy hat, Bret said his "soul was smiling". "Lookout for #10"
The next question was about officiating. The Razorback fan asked Bret if he looked forward to non-conference games because they sometimes come with officials from outside of the SEC. "That's great" Bret said, before commenting that he thought the SEC had the best officiating in the nation. He also commented on the ACC crew for the Texas game. He was initially worried about that crew, but was pretty happy after the game with only 2 penalties called on Arkansas.
Another question came from a man showing a horn's down sign, "What do you think of this?" Bielema was pretty quick to say he didn't do that.... almost a little too quick if you asked me.
Who's the workout beast of the offseason? Bielema said himself of course, but was quick to talk about juco transfer Jeremiah Ledbetter. Ledbetter showed off his standing backflip while they were listening to some music getting pumped to lift, and that's pretty impressive for a 280 lb D-lineman.
Then Bielema was asked to comment on who had the idea to bring the Golden Boot to the LSU game. Bret mentioned they had a few recruits watching the game and that Robb Smith "a very angry little man" told him they should roll that damn boot out there, and that's just what they did.
He closed with a few comments on his wife, and how he met her at a blackjack table, and he's been winning ever since.
Overall it was an enjoyable evening, and an exciting time to be a Hog fan.