Arkansas starting quarterback Brandon Allen can only hope his week ends better than it started.
Allen's Chevy Avalanche truck burned – in a possible case of arson - at around 4 a.m on Monday morning according to head coach Bret Bielema, whose team will open its season Saturday at 3 p.m. at Auburn.
It was one of three cars to catch fire near the Arkansas campus two separate incidents a mile apart according to Sgt. Craig Stout of the Fayetteville Police Department so it could very well have been just a random incident.
"We don't know yet," Stout told the Associated Press.
The truck caught on fire, the alarm went off waking up Allen and he then made calls to his dad – former Arkansas assistant Bobby Allen — and Bielema as the truck burned and then rolled back into a ditch.
“I got a phone call shortly after 4 or 4:15 or 4:16,” Bielema said. “You kind of stop for a moment seeing it is B.A. calling me. I was hoping it was my alarm but it was about a half hour early from getting up - he just kind of explained to me that he was calling to let me know that his car was on fire and he was watching it across the street and the fire department was there and his dad was on his way, that unfortunately something had put his car on fire, that he didn't know at the time what had taken place. Obviously all the authorities are there.
“They have started a formal investigation, don't know a lot of details right now, just that B.A. is completely safe. He lives with a couple of other players and former players - they are all - our first priority was to make sure they are safe and taken care of. Right now we are just allowing them to work through the process between the fire department and police department and try to make the transition easy for B.A to handle this whole situation.”
Allen's vehicle was egged toward the end of last season and also his home was burglarized while the team was at LSU.
“Obviously being without a car, the second time there has been an issue at his place so we are working through the details of that just out of respect to the police investigation and the fire department and everything else we are going to say mum's the word on that and move forward,” Bielema continued.
“I will probably take the quarterbacks, because the second-string quarterback (Austin Allen) is also his brother, I don't want him having to deal with a bunch of questions and issues as well but in talking with his dad, as soon as I got off the phone with B.A. the next person I called was his dad," Bielema said.
“You are a dad first and foremost and I could hear it in Bobby's voice, the concern that he had and all the issues that are around that,” Bielema added. "Bobby was there right away this morning and hopefully they are going to respect their privacy and work through the details of that and find out who is doing it. It sounds like there are a couple of other scenarios this weekend on campus.
"Not overly concerned, and hopefully it's an isolated random situation and there have been a couple of other situations on campus but it is what it is. With that we will move forward. I am not going to really go into anything further and they ask that we don't make comments as well as Brandon.
Bielema said Allen seem to be taking things in stride.
“I don't think it's a - for those of you who know B.A. - he obviously had a situation a year ago,” Bielema said. “From everything I heard him this morning at 4:15, it wasn't a guy who was like 'Aaaaahh! My car's on fire.' It was like 'Coach, dad wanted me to call you. My car's on fire. Got the fire department here. Police department. We'll find out what it was about and give you a call in 25 minutes.' I get up. By the time I got out of the shower he was already calling me back. It was kind of just status quo, ho hum for him. Which to me is probably not a big surprise, to those of us who really know him.
Regardless of whether Allen was targeted or not, the story was already being played out as it being a disgruntled fan because of the quarterback's sub-par play during a 3-9 season in which he was injured.
“You know, I think the -- not the good news -- but this wasn't the only one,” Bielema said. “There were I believe three, the possibility of four more that took place on campus. So it's probably somebody new to town. Maybe. If it is someone that targeted him, then obviously we've got to deal with that situation as it comes.
“But it is what it is,” Bielema added. “You play it out as it is. Fayetteville, one of the things we've really grown accustomed to hear for us who have moved here for the first time and when we recruit here, one of the things people commonly talk about is they can be here the whole weekend and never see a siren, never hear a siren, never see a police officer with squad lights on. I think that's still one of the best selling points to Arkansas.”
Former back-up quarterback and current starting tight end AJ Derby tweeted out a message to Allen.
"The whole team has (your) back and we all know you're the guy to take us to the promise land," Derby tweeted.
Top photo courtesy of Katelynn Zoellner
Brandon Allen and Austin Allen in practice earlier this month.
Arkansas QB Brandon Allen's Truck Burns
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