Bret Bielema seemed like the perfect hire for Arkansas going into this season. He took Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowls with tough defense and a dynamic running game.
The thoughts and opinions around campus indicate that there is still hope that Bielema’s system can propel Arkansas from bottom dwellers in the Southeastern Conference to legitimate contenders.
Eryk McCoy is a freshman from Tyler, Texas, whoa has high expectations for football. Despite these Texan football expectations, he realized that this year would be a rebuilding year regardless of how impressive the new coaching staff looked on paper.
“All you can do is tell yourself and friends back home that the years coming up will be better for us,” McCoy said. “I just hope that is actually the case.”
Connor Thomas was excited to attend a SEC school with a rich football tradition, but was not pleased with what Bielema was able to accomplish.
“I was extremely excited for football season this year because Bret had such a great reputation,” Thomas said. “I think the whole season was a disappointment and if we have another year like this, everything needs to be overhauled.”
Bielema took over the team following a scandal and below average season. The scandal saw the end of the Bobby Petrino era in Arkansas.
Petrino coached the Razorbacks to several successful seasons, but fans need to remember his first season resulted in a 5-7 overall record. Arkansas native Brandon Payne grew up a Hogs fan and remembers Petrino’s start.
“Getting an NFL coach was pretty cool, but you knew he was going to need an adjustment time,” Payne said. “The same can be said for Bielema. He is going to need some time just like Petrino needed.”
Despite not winning a single conference game, there were a lot of instances and moments that provided hope for fans.
An overtime loss against Mississippi State in Little Rock, an intense back and forth home game versus the Aggies and a heartbreaking late loss in Baton Rouge, La., this past weekend were all examples that the team had the talent and chemistry to win more games than its overall record suggests.
Claire Stewart did not really follow the Razorbacks before this year, but became a very intense fan throughout the season despite many poor results.
“I wanted to cry after the LSU loss,” Stewart said. “It would have been a great win for Bielema that had the potential to redeem a lot of this season in my eyes.”
A lot of the blame for only winning three games this season gets shifted onto other factors besides Bielema if you ask students around campus. Drew Adams thinks that the coaching staff did the best with what it had.
“There were a lot of new players starting this year including our quarterback,” Adams said. “Experience wins games, and I think Bielema is a good coach that can build upon more experience from players next year and win some games.”
“Believe in Bielema” was a popular motto going into this season, and students are going to carry the idea that Bielema can be a difference maker into next season despite a disappointing season.