"I read somewhere online the other day that said Arkansas got the best hire of any coach on the board," Swanson said. "It's just that no one knew he was on the board. That was pretty funny to me. But he is a great hire."
Bielema, 68-24 with three BCS bowl berths at Wisconsin in the last seven years, met with his new Razorback players about 90 minutes before his introductory press conference.
"From what I heard in our meeting, Coach B is a passionate guy and the type of guy that you would want leading you into any kind of battle," Small said. "I obviously like a physical style of ball and watching Wisconsin, I love what they did. I like where we are headed."
Small – who says he is near 100 percent healthy - is thrilled that he is going to get to spend a year with Bielema.
"I am really, really excited to be a part of this," Small said. "I love having a guy like me who likes to pound the rock a little bit."
Defensive end Chris Smith echoed those sentiments.
"He is not going to beat around the bush and he clearly is going to keep things straight up with us," Smith said. "He told us that he wants us to be successful, but that was all up to us and we have got to work hard from day one. All of our players are fired up and Razorback fans are fired up."
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen – who says he will remain a Razorback regardless of whether his dad Bobby is retained as an assistant – also loves the hire.
"He told us exactly how things are going to be done around the program now and that got us all excited," Allen said. "…When he first walks in, he is an imposing figure that makes you sit up a bit straighter…It is a great hire and I am very, very excited about him being our new head coach. He is a great head coach."
There may be a swing to more pass, but Swanson doesn't mind.
"In the past our offense has been a little bit more pass-happy and I think it will be more balanced with what Coach Bielema will bring to the table," Swanson said. "That is good from an offensive line standpoint. It will take a little bit off pass protection and will help you with run blocking."
Kicker Zach Hocker is enthused about his new head coach.
"In our meeting room about an hour ago, as soon as Coach B walked into the room, you could sense the positivity going around the room," Hocker said. "It was incredible, especially coming off a four-win season, which is not what we were hoping for. Right off the bat, the presence of him being in our room got us all fired up about next season."
Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel has watched tape of Wisconsin and is impressed.
"I have read about him and I have watched Wisconsin film while preparing for different opponents," Mitchel said. "I am excited that he is a defensive-minded coach."
He is excited to see what the rest of the staff is going to be like.
"I am sure whoever we have will be great," Mitchel said. "Last year we had a lot of young guys playing on defense like Otha (Peters), A.J. (Turner) and Will (Hines)…We were all young and that is going to help us because now the young guys have played and they won't have a shock being in the game. How we played defense in the LSU game, if we keep that we are going to be good and there is no telling what level Coach B is going to get us to."
Brandon Allen, Travis Swanson and Kiero Small