Bret Bielema didn't wait for the season to come to an end to visit with Jeff Long about keeping assistant coaches happy. Two weeks ago, Bielema sat down with his athletic director about some help for his staff.
Without going into specifics, Bielema said on a teleconference Wednesday morning that things are in place to extend multi-year contracts for assistant coaches, along with raises.
Bielema said he'd not received "one inquiry" from another school (or NFL team) about talking to any of his assistants, but he didn't want to wait and neither did Long.
"I did have a conversation with Jeff a couple of weeks ago about adjustments," Bielema said. "I believe it's better when you are pro-active. I'm talking about raises and other things, multi-year contracts, and other things that maybe aren't big things, but they do make a difference, like tickets for family members at games, maybe basketball, things that hadn't been done here. They are little things but they mean a lot."
Bielema said the Hogs escaped major injuries in the 21-14 loss at Missouri to end the regular season. All players except tight end AJ Derby would be on the field when bowl practices begin Sunday. Bielema has set practices for Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week.
Derby missed the Missouri game with a minor knee surgery early last week. He should play in the bowl, but Bielema said he would not push the tight end and jeopardize a possible NFL career.
"It was routine and minimal surgery, removing some things (in a knee)," Bielema said. "He should be back in the next two weeks."
Deatrich Wise missed the Missouri and Ole Miss games with an ankle injury, but he is expected back at practice Sunday. Quarterback Brandon Allen should be able to participate in practice after a week of rest and rehab for an oblique injury that restricted him in the Missouri game.
Bielema was asked about a gesture Jonathan Williams made after a touchdown reception that made reference to the political situation in Ferguson, Mo. Williams raised his hands with palms out.
"I did not know about it at the time, or after the game," Bielema said. "I spoke to Jonathan on Saturday. We are not individuals, we are team members. On the football field, we don't do anything to take away from the team. Jonathan feels great remorse. I've asked him to refrain from commenting until things die down. When you’re on the football field and you do anything more than celebrate with your teammates, it’s never a good thing."
Bielema said that at least the Sunday practice would be entirely "Arkansas against Arkansas" and it could be that the next two practices are that way, too. He wants as much development of the second, third and fourth teams during that period, much as he pushed for in the final three weeks of the season before the Hogs became bowl eligible.
"I'm not sure our coaches can have enough information on our bowl opponent to do anything on Sunday and we will introduce the bowl opponent as we move through the week as they are ready," Bielema said.
Bielema said the Hogs will utilize consultant Steve Looney in bowl preparation and possibly add a defensive consultant.
"I've reached out to a couple of defensive coaches," Bielema said. "So there might be one other coach with us."
Would Bielema be asked about his thoughts on a bowl trip?
"I think it's a brand new world (as far as the bowl selection process)," he said. "The pecking order has changed and I don't know that they are going to be asking too many football coaches. It's a slotting process, but I learned a long time ago there are no bad bowls."
Concerning the Missouri loss, Bielema said there was "disappointment" in the lack of execution, particularly the turnovers and penalties that made it difficult for the Hogs to win.
In looking back at the season, the coach said there was not be any satisfaction in a 6-6 record, despite playing the most difficult schedule in UA history.
"From my perspective, I'm never going to be satisfied with six wins," he said. "That number does get us bowl eligible, but our goal is to be in the playoff talk. We are making a step in that direction with our recent recruiting and we are going to add five to nine players in January at mid-term that are going to benefit us in the fall."
Bielema said there would be three players leaving the program. Cornerback Will Hines, linemen Grady Ollison and running back Korliss Marshall will not be with the team in bowl practices and are seeking transfer. Bielema said he'd help all three in the process.
Bielema: New Contracts for Assistants
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