While Saturday's 35-28 overtime loss to No. 6 Texas A&M still stings him, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has been thrilled with the reception that he's gotten on the recruiting trail since the heartbreaking defeat.
“Unbelievable,” Bielema said. “We landed in Alabama Sunday night and the old boy grabs my luggage and he looks at me and he looks at me and says, 'Coach, Roll Tide! But I do like how you played last night. And I just started laughing.
“Everywhere we went — we landed in Louisiana, we landed in Mississippi — everywhere I went, the high school coaches' reactions, of course I was in some schools where we have current players - just overwhelmingly positive reaction,” Bielema added.
“I don't want to name drop or anything like that, but I usually get a lot of texts after a win, a lot of emails and a lot of positive things,” Bielema continued. “I was flooded, It was amazing on Saturday night, I didn't even turn my phones on until I got back Saturday night, media, coaches, other coaches in our league, a lot of high school coaches, recruits, recruits parents, juniors in high school, sophomores in high school that can text message or direct message.
“It assures to me …. that if you do it the way we're doing it, and you're positive with your players and you take the high road and continue to show what you're building … I am thoroughly convinced that most people that touch our program in any way, whether they're coming in to view a game, whether they're the screeners at the luggage check, or they're the bus drivers that drive us to the stadium in a home or away environment, people like our guys, and they like the way that we handle our payers and it's going to pay off in the long run.”
Bielema, whose 2015 recruiting class has 15 pledges and is ranked 17th nationally per Scout.com, was hit with a wave of texts and calls after the game.
“Most of them without a doubt were stay the course, you are doing the right thing - from the coaching profession,” Bielema said. “The people that aren't in the football world necessarily – 'feel bad for you, the sun will come up tomorrow, stay positive, stuff like that.”
Bielema arrived back from the recruiting trail on Tuesday right before his noon press conference and made it clear that he would soon be right back out on it.
“During our bye week last year, just think about this,” Bielema said. “ During our bye week this is who I saw: Frank Ragnow, Henre’ Toliver, Dwayne Eugene, Santos Ramirez, Jared Cornelius. One other guy. Sebastian Tretola. You talk about the effect of our bye week a year ago on our football team now? It’s like unbelievable.
“On the plane we actually do get, an improvement that we’ve made is that we do get wireless,” Bielema added. “I get full use of my computer on the plane. So I got to watch Alabama film. I got to watch recruiting film. Be able to do a lot of really, really good stuff on the road this Thursday.
“Thursday where I’m flying to is almost a 2 ½, 3 hour flight to Utah of all places,” Bielema continued. “But an opportunity to see some people out there.”
Bielema believes what Arkansas has done in the first five games of the season will help on the recruiting trail and with the Razorbacks fans who have dismissed his style as something that can not win in the SEC.
“Without a doubt, and I’ll tell you what, I get a lot of inquiries. I think there’s a lot of people that probably ... It’s very hard to get people to believe in something that they haven’t seen,” Bielema said. “ I think we’ve all learned that probably in life, whether it be your personal life or your professional life. It’s called faith, it’s called trust, it’s called all those things that kind of see those intangibles. And when we hadn’t been able to do it against efficient competition, I think it gave a lot of people reason to doubt.
“But now, I have seen it work for a number of years, and I will see it work here, and it will work very, very well,” Bielema added. “And you’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what we’ll be.”
Bielema will be in New York on Saturday as a studio analyst for CBS – which is broadcasting the Alabama-Ole Miss game.
“CBS has invited me in to be an analyst on Saturday,” Bielema said. “I’m jumping into your guys’ shorts for a little bit. Maybe I’ll call a couple of you guys for pointers. But at first I said no. Then I took 15 minutes when (sports information director) Zack (Higbee) brought it up to me, I just, I knew I was going to be gone Sunday, Monday, Thursday Friday.
“My wife is asking me how many nights am I going to be home,” Bielema added. “She can’t understand during a bye week why I’m home two nights to see her. CBS really presented an unbelievable opportunity for exposure for our program. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’ve probably got more of a face for radio. So I was reluctant, but I’m going to do it just because it provides exposure. So I’ll be in New York watching the games and be an analyst with those guys.”
Recruiting Reception Pleases Razorbacks
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