Brought to you once more this week courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito’s Vodka, and the stubbornness of the final nail in the coffin. Our Puritan work ethic tells us to require that the final nail go in as decisively as all the others, but rarely is the final nail driven cleanly. It’s almost always messy, because it’s the final nail. What matters is that it’s in, because the show must go on. There’s really a very lovely service that we’re all waiting for. And besides (AND THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART), nothing about that nail can bring back what’s inside the coffin. So get on with it.
Arkansas almost served up on Saturday what would have been the prettiest, cleanest final nail in the coffin of Bret Bielema’s career at Arkansas. They almost lost to Coastal Carolina, a 1-7 team from the Sun Belt who lost to Arkansas State by 34 points three weeks ago and were forced to use their backup quarterback for most of the game. Instead, the Hogs clawed their way back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to claim their second consecutive one-point victory. So close to a clean final nail, but what we get instead is a redemption story or a bullet dodged story or a keep fighting story.
You’ll not get that here, though. You’ll get no redemption story from me because there is no redeeming being 13 points down to 1-7, backup quarterback playing Coastal Carolina in the fourth quarter. THAT IS THE SIN, and winning doesn’t redeem it. You’ll get no story of a bullet dodged, either. I watched on television as fans of the most sparsely attended Razorback game in recent memory headed for the exits before the game was over because they thought Arkansas had no chance to win. AGAINST COASTAL CAROLINA. Or they just couldn’t watch that shit show anymore. Either way, Arkansas didn’t dodge any bullets. They hit just where they were aiming.
There is absolutely nothing worthwhile to discuss about that football game other than TJ Hammonds’ exceptional play and the complete absence of effort and execution just about everywhere else. It’s inexcusable it has seemingly taken outrage from the fan base to force the staff into playing Hammonds. It’s also inexcusable for a team to walk onto the field as unprepared to play a football game as the Arkansas team I watched on Saturday. So pretty much every single thing about the game, even down to the one good thing, makes me angry. It was a game that few Arkansas players wanted to play and few Arkansas fans wanted to attend that apparently NO Arkansas coaches wanted to prepare for. It was a complete, 100%, unmitigated dog and pony show disaster, and the fact that a W gets stamped next to that turd instead of an L changes absolutely nothing.
It’s time to fire Bret Bielema. It needs to be said at regular intervals, after embarrassing losses and embarrassing wins alike. The program is no longer moving forward and the fan base is losing interest. The bottom is falling out, and at the worst possible time. The University of Arkansas took out a $120 million bond to expand a stadium that looked comically empty yesterday. And there are two more home games during which it can appear comically empty, including the day after Thanksgiving when Arkansas hosts equally woeful Missouri. At least most all of those empty seats have already been paid for. What happens when it’s time to answer the call next year? Bret Bielema has to go. We have to keep saying it until it happens.
So now Arkansas sits at 4-5 (1-4) with a trip to Baton Rouge this coming Saturday and then home games against Mississippi State and Missouri to close the season. Unlike the two previous weeks, the remaining teams on the schedule all have both talent equal or superior to Arkansas AND something to play for. I fully expect to lose out, and in ugly fashion, because this team has checked out. How is it possible to say that about a group that has two consecutive second half comeback wins? I’m not sure, but you see it too, right?
Yesterday was the final nail. It has to be. Allowing that salvaged win to salvage Bret Bielema’s job accomplishes nothing except to further lower expectations on what is acceptable performance. Those expectations are already low enough, and they are not being met. It’s time to act. That performance with that attendance? Arkansas football under Bret Bielema is dead. Yesterday should be the final nail. Coughlin’s Law: Bury the dead, they stink up the joint.
I’ll see y’all next week.