Bret Bielema spent two seasons with Bill Snyder at Kansas State, serving as co-defensive coordinator. That was enough for Bielema to warn his team about how the Wildcats would prepare for the Liberty Bowl.
"Coach Snyder has a relentless attitude for bowl games," Bielema said. "Our players know what to expect and will prepare the same way."
Bielema met with the media for about 15 minutes Sunday night before heading to New York City for the Football Foundation Hall of Fame festivities. He said the Hogs have practiced the last three days as part of their 17 practices before meeting Kansas State on Jan. 2 in Memphis.
Bielema said the practices began last week in a way the players recalled from the midseason break that was the UA bye week. He said there were a few days off, then three days of practice beginning on Friday.
"We were rusty," he said. "Today's practice (or Sunday) was strictly development. We'll be Arkansas against Arkansas for a few days, then we'll get about two full weeks of Kansas State. I've told our players that this is the way we do it after a bye week and we've been pretty good with this schedule. We've fared well after bye weeks."
Bielema said he had texted Snyder, his former boss, last week about the possibilities of the Liberty Bowl matchup. But he was not sure about the Liberty Bowl pairing until during the Sunday evening practice.
"I guess it was Thursday when I first started hearing about it," Bielema said. "But I didn't know for sure until the middle of the practice. I know what kind of an opponent they will be. I guess the good part of it is that it's in Memphis and will be a good drawing spot for our fans. Our fans have been so good."
Bielema said there are things he learned in his two years under Snyder that are staples in his daily routine before practice. He requires his coaches to deliver a detailed sheet on what will be covered in position meetings and practice during the day.
"I got that from Coach Snyder," Bielema said. "I want them to put it in my box each day. I'm not as bad as Coach Snyder though. He had a form to fill out. I encourage my coaches to have some individuality. It's interesting to see what they bring me. It's all different."
Interestingly, wide receiver coach Michael Smith, who played and coached for Snyder at K-State, delivers his report almost exactly how he learned to do it under Snyder.
"Michael's is written in that same style," Bielema sai.d "Sam Pittman kinda does his during the day as he builds it. Dan Enos, not surpisingly, is typed in detail. My idea is to go for individual style."
Bielema said there are great memories of Snyder. But he said he's still truly "scared" of the man. He "dreaded" calling Snyder to ask for permission to hire Smith three years ago. Bielema said he knew he'd have to deal with a few minutes of yelling, but he got through it and stayed the course to hire Smith. Bielema said, "He gave it to me pretty good."
The office he worked in at Kansas State produced a series of great coaches.
"It was a great room I worked in," he said. "The guys who worked in that office before me were Bob Stoops, Mike Stoops, Jim Leavitt and Brent Venables."
There are rumors that this will be Snyder's last game as coach at K-State. He's retired once before only to bring the Wildcats back again.
"That would be unbelievable," said Bielema, tearing up. "If it is, that would be so cool. He trained me for two years. He gave me a lot of advice on a lot of things. I was so young. I had never been away from Iowa. I needed to go there. I can remember being at the coaches convention when I got the call. Barry Alvarez and Bob Stoops both told me that I needed to do it."
Among the many othr items Bielema covered on Sunday night:
> Jonathan Williams would not play in the bowl game and had made a decision to go to the NFL and skip a possible redshirt season after missing the last year with preseason foot surgery.
> Keon Hatcher is still not cleared for practice. An MRI showed that his broken foot still wasn't healed. Hatcher will return for a fifth season and will use a medical medical redshirt after sustaining his injury in the second game of the season.
> Dominique Reed (mild high ankle sprain), Drew Morgan (shoulder) and Kody Walker (soreness) all sat out the last three workouts, but are cleared. It was coaches decision, Bielema said. Morgan was upset that he couldn't practice but Bielema said Reed "was fine with it." They were all running around during the workout. They will return to practice this week.
> Kirby Smart, the new Georgia head coach, called Bielema to ask for permission to talk to Dan Enos about a job on his staff. Bielema said he told Smart that Enos was not available because of the no-compete for any SEC job in all Arkansas assistant contracts. Bielema offered that he was originally against putting those clauses into contracts but agreed to do it after Jeff Long insisted. Bielema said, "Obviously, I like the idea now."