Could Bret Bielema Be On Path of Bear Bryant?

It’s been a rough year for Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. Some have even been questioning if he is the right guy for the job but could this be the dark before the dawn for the Hogs?

Many fans love coach Bret Bielema despite his rocky record here at Arkansas. Some fans are not so patient with Bielema and can be seen on social media calling for his job. Every time I see these posts or hear the calls on talk radio, I think about the history of Alabama.

Paul “Bear” Bryant is the standard by which we measure success in college football coaches. Even Nick Saban is not exempt from being compared to the coaching legend. Everyone always remembers his 5 National Championships but it’s often overlooked that he almost left Alabama.(Minus 1964 to Arkansas)

Fans Begin to Stir

Bear’s Tide had back to back 6-5 seasons in 1969 and 1970. After these back to back disappointments, fans began to think Bear’s time had passed. Even Bryant himself started to wonder if this was the case and began entertaining ideas of retirement and looking into the NFL.

Like Bryant, coach Bielema is no stranger to success. From 2010-2012 Bielema won three straight Big Ten championships and Big Ten Coach of the Year in  2006. His time in the SEC has been much less successful. However, he took over a program that was not in good shape by any stretch of the imagination.

It’s year four for Bielema at Arkansas and the fans are starting to question his leadership and abilities in the SEC.  Many are calling for his job but I think back to Bryant. Have we given Bielema the chance to do something different? Has he had time to evolve?

Leaving The Old

What Bear Bryant did was not give up. He could have accepted that his style was outdated and taken his leave, but he didn’t. Bear Bryant evolved. He went from running the pro-attack to the wishbone. The rest is history but there is an important lesson to be learned here.

Bret Bielema has been criticized for his stubbornness and lack of evolution at Arkansas. I have heard ten thousand times, “He just came down here trying to run that Big Ten stuff. YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” Bret Bielema started his evolution when he hired offensive coordinator Dan Enos and will build on that in the coming years.

Alabama fans almost cut short one of the all-time greatest coaches because he had a couple six-win seasons. Arkansas is no different right now. I am not saying that Bielema is the next Bear Bryant but how will we know he isn’t if we don’t give him the chances Bryant had? Yes, it is frustrating to watch. Yes, he needs to evolve and make changes on the defensive side of the ball as well. But before we run him out of town, let’s see if he can follow the steps Bear Bryant took and evolve to build a dynasty. Woo Pig.

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