For as long as he lives, Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema is likely going to be asked – or even told for that matter – about the Razorbacks’ 53-52 overtime win at Ole Miss last weekend.
Even as he headed to the office in the very early morning on Wednesday to continue preparing for this Saturday’s game with LSU, it came up.
“Fun to watch all the smiles and the reaction,” Bielema said on Wednesday’s SEC Teleconference. “I got gas at 5:45 a.m. this morning and the man behind the counter there was telling me all about the play as if I had never seen it before. It is something that has affected the whole state for sure.”
Bielema was asked about it being the biggest win of his career and he wouldn’t go there, but as for the 4th-and-25 that Arkansas converted to keep overtime going, he’s down with that being on the craziest plays.
“Somebody asked me after the game if that was the biggest game of my career and I was hesitate to give it that label because I just think they are all so big,” Bielema said, “but plays in my career, that was probably one of the most astonishing, rewarding, fulfilling, but also in its own weird kind of way not surprising.
“We have been through so much…these kids have been through some bounces of the ball, some calls, some breaks, some almost unexplainable and to have that little segueway right there that led to, it’s almost awesome that it didn’t go for the touchdown so we had a couple of more plays to relish.”
Bielema said there was no way he was going to settle for a kicking an extra point and a tie after inexplicably converting the 4th-and-25.
“When that play happened and when it was under review, I went to all my coaches and players of offense and said ‘hey, when we score this touchdown, we are going for two. Everybody stay on the field and then we are going to walk out of here with a W.’
“It wasn’t like a confidence builder,” Bielema added. “It was like a fact. I just thought at that point – we have got this one. We can’t have that happen and walk out short.”
That didn’t happen and led to Arkansas winning the game on Brandon Allen’s two-point conversion – after a facemask on the first try - and the both beleaguered and beloved Allen being carried off the field by his teammates.
“It just doesn’t happen that much anymore,” Bielema said. “You don’t see that as the way it was when maybe I was growing up or beyond that, but it was his 0-lineman and I thought that was pretty cool.
“He was kind of having fun in the moment with it.
“During the course of the week, he has got some more awards and last night I recognized that – the Sportswriters of America naming him the (national) Player of the Week – and our guys just went crazy.
“It is something that has been growing in him and is so, so much of a blessing to see him finally come through and have so many people have to eat a little crow.
“It is something that we saw coming all along and it makes me really take a lesson for the ages because it once again proves to me that he was put into a situation early in his career that I just don’t think he was ready for and he got scarred.
“He got sideways with his confidence and his faith and just pulling through….It is a reminder that never open that wine before it is time. You have to make sure it is the right way to put him in. It can literally set him back months and years in his career.”
Bielema noted that there was no read on the 2-point conversion, just a belief from himself and offensive coordinator Dan Enos that Allen would get into the end zone.
“That was a run all the way,” Bielema said. “At the end of the game, I just had huge confidence in our offensive coordinator and I think one of the reasons that BA is having success – three games in a row with over 50 points – is him and Dan have got a relationship now that is pretty special.
“They think alike, they act alike, they are in tune with one another. I remember Dan came into my office on Friday and went through four two-point plays that we had scripted to call and that was number one on his run list if we were going to run it.
“I don’t know if BA could have run it in from three, but once we got to the one-and-a-half because of the face mask, I knew he was good for that and it was fun to watch.”