Brought to you once more this week courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito’s Vodka, and Arkansas’ FIFTH surrendered two-touchdown lead in the last calendar year. Five times in the last 14 games, including twice to Missouri, Arkansas has held a lead of 14 points or more, only to relinquish it and subsequently lose. Five games out of 14. That’s more than a third of the games. That’s more games than Arkansas actually won during that span. A two touchdown lead is supposed to be safe. You should win the vast majority of games in which you hold a 14 point lead at any moment during the game. In the last calendar year, the last 14 games, Arkansas held a lead of 14 or more in eight games. In those games, they went 3-5.
It is in large part due to that very statistic that this will be the last edition ever of Feel The Rhythm, brought to you by Interim Athletic Director Julie Cromer-Peoples and the pink slip she delivered to Bret Bielema via shiv to the neck, right on the Razorback logo at midfield, with blood everywhere and no NSFW tag and a whispered “Say hello to Jeff for me” taunt thrown in for good measure. Poor Barry Odom just stood there in horror, wondering if that could happen to him in Columbia and also if he’d be able to get the splatter stains out of his sweatshirt.
That’s what many in the national media would have you believe, at least. Many in the local and statewide media, too. And much of the fan base. But the truth is that’s not really how it went down. Bret Bielema wasn’t fired immediately after the game because of anger or cruelty or a small rural state’s inflated sense of self-worth or any other insulting reason the pearl clutchers with the microphones and pens can muster.
Bielema was fired immediately after the game because immediately after the game was the last time his team would be together in one place until Monday, and there is a possibility that those players will already have another coach by then. That Bielema deserved a chance to address his players, which is one of the things being given as a reason why Arkansas should have done things differently, is exactly the reason Arkansas did things the way they did. It was literally the only way to make it happen.
It wasn’t cruel. It wasn’t heartless. It was business. It casts no shadow on the tenure of Bret Bielema at Arkansas. It wasn’t an impulsive action spurred by the failures of the past few years. It was a decisive one that illuminated a plan for the next few years. It doesn’t indicate classlessness. It simply indicates that someone(s) with money and clout wants Gus Malzahn to be the next coach at Arkansas. They think they have their guy. And if you have your guy, sooner is better than later, but you can’t get your next guy until you close the book on your last guy.
For the record, I don’t know if that plan will succeed. I don’t know if I want it to. But I believe that is the plan, and it provides an explanation for Friday’s events that doesn’t rely on emotion or optics or the opinion of people outside of the state. It makes sense to me. I’d wager it makes sense to Bret Bielema. Hopefully it makes sense to you. It’s going to be a hell of a weekend.
With their loss to Missouri, Arkansas finishes 2017 with a record of 4-8 (1-7), and Bret Bielema finishes with a record of 29-34 over five seasons in Fayetteville. I recapped all but one of those 63 games for Arkansas Fight with a little help from Bob Marley, Tito’s Vodka, and whatever wacky thing happened the day before. Next year will see a new coach, and will require a new shtick for recaps. It may also be the right time for a new recapper with fresh thoughts and a fresh style. We’ll see how the offseason goes. Regardless, I would like to thank everyone for reading and interacting for the past five years. It has been so much damn fun.
I’ll see y’all around. Woo Pig!