During each week’s SEC Teleconference, Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema answers questions about his team and the upcoming foe, but there always seem to be one national topic as well.
This week’s question in that regard was about marijuana use and how it was a major problem in college sports according to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Bielema was asked by Orlando Sentinel writer Edgar Thompson what his concern level was about that and how he addresses it with his player.
“It was probably one of the biggest challenges when I took over as a head coach (at Wisconsin),” Bielema said. “As an assistant, you are aware of everything that is going on, but no one really knows except for the head coach and trainers because of certain by-laws and certain regulations that the universities and government have that prohibit you from knowing everything.
“I remember my very first positive drug test – not myself, I never had any – but I had to sit down with a player. I remember candidly having a whole plan laid out in front of me, ‘hey we are going to bring him in’ and I knew this kid and knew this family.
“What shocked me was that I threw at him ‘what are your parents going to say. This is something that we have got to make everybody aware to help us battle it in the future.’
“To be quite honest, the use had happened in the home. It kind of threw me for a loop. I had never envisioned that, but in today’s world you have got young parents and sometimes they may have used in the past and come up in an environment where they thought it was okay.”
Bielema noted that he stresses to players that it puts their playing status in jeopardy.
“I always tell our players two things, there are two organizations that prohibit drug use obviously, marijuana in particular – it’s the NCAA and the NFL,” Bielema said.
“You are in the NCAA right now and your dream is to play in the NFL. If I allow you to sustain this type of use or this type of behavior then I am sitting you up for failure. That is usually the biggest way to curtail it.”
Bielema also touched on the University of Arkansas’ policy, which has recently had some players transfer after basically striking out.
“We have a policy here that is basically a strike system,” Bielema said. “Once you are detected, we actually have an entry level. We test everybody the first day they are on campus just to try and get an entry level reading.
“We kind of go on from there and we have random testing every Wednesday and hopefully that is something that has kind of been eradicated from our program.”
Bielema stressed that marijuana use is much more prevalent today than it was in his playing days.
“One hundred percent, without a doubt,” Bielema said. “It is not even a comparison. Especially with the synthetic marijuana and the education you have to put through to your players. It is at a whole another level."