Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema wasted little time Monday in addressing the alcohol-related arrests of two of his freshmen - Fayetteville tight end C.J. O’Grady and California punter Blake Johnson - that happen on Thursday night and Friday night.
He got to it right away in his Monday press conference and also noted that redshirt freshman JoJo Robinson would be suspended for the first half of Saturday’s season-opener with UTEP because of a summer issue.
“Well before we get on the football side of it..obviously we a had a little bit of a hiccup socially last week with 2 freshmen that made some pretty bonehead mistakes," Bielema said. “The first one obviously I sent out a release on. The second one came to my attention Saturday morning.
“I thought rather then send out a release Ill just wait till I have the opportunity to address it publicly.
“Obviously something that I am adamantly opposed against social behavior and holding guys to high accountability. The good news was before I had even talked to the second player on Saturday morning I had received numerous contact from upperclassmen.
"Two guys called me directly and wanted to address the team immediately, so I gave them their opportunity yesterday. My guess is that will be nipped in the bud pretty quick.
“Obviously it’s a blemish on us as a program and something that we take very seriously. Both of them were alcohol related with underclassmen so we'll address that individually with each on of those, but also a big learning experience for all of our guys in general.
“Removed them from our program until we kind of set some things in motion for them to take part with the things the University does and the things I'll mandate them to do as well as talking to their parents.
“So we'll just kind of take that and move forward. Long stretch out there without any big issues and obviously those are two things we can correct in a short fashion and hopefully everyone will take notice of that.”
The arrests certainly didn’t brighten his day off on Saturday.
“The part that you look forward to that day is just being able to sit down and relax and enjoy,” Bielema said. “My wife on Thursday got a little bit sick and unfortunately I got it on Friday as well. I put on my smiley face Friday night, so Saturday I was actually a little sick the whole day. So it really wasn't an enjoyable day for me at all.
“I think the part that was disappointing more than anything is it just gave everybody reasons to fire a shot. Your enemies or people you're competing with on a daily basis. … The thing I do know is we've recruited kids with high character.
“The young man involved, Blake, I had several missed calls by the time I finally got to my phone with his dad, and other members of the team reaching out to make sure everything was all right. The first thing you wanted to do was make sure everybody's OK. But then you've got to make sure people hold themselves accountable.”
That is what he is doing with Robinson, who had been suspended at one point this spring and had to earn his way back with his actions off the field and in the class room.
He was asked the question in regards to Toledo - Arkansas' second opponent - having suspended two of its better players for two games.
“We're only going to have one so far. I didn't know anything about Toledo. Toledo is next week's opponent, so … This week Jojo will be suspended from the first half. That's more from the summer. He sat down and I explained to him at the time what I needed to have him do and he came close to getting it done. … He had a really good summer GPA, but one of the issues I put in front of him he wasn't able to uphold, so that suspension stayed true. He'll go in the second half.
Bielema noted it was not an issue from this preseason camp, but obviously did hurt Robinson in terms of the depth chart.“That was determined before fall camp,” Bielema said. “The only part, he wouldn't be in the X and Z, but when we go to some of our 11 personnel, he could have been in the playing rotation at the slot.”