Bielema, Snyder Discuss Music, Ribs and the Liberty Bowl Matchup between Arkansas and K-State

It was buttoned up versus casual for the head coaches at the last media visit at the Liberty Bowl on Friday. Clearly, Arkansas' Bret Bielema had the casual look in a contrast with his mentor, Kansas State's Bill Snyder.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Bret Bielema dressed up for the photo session with Bill Snyder as the opposing Liberty Bowl head coaches met the media on Friday for the last time before their game.

To no one's surprise, Kansas State's Snyder was in a blazer with tie. Bielema, the Arkansas coach, didn't quite match his mentor's attire. There was no tie. Bielema did wear a sports jacket.

"I knew I better dress up a little for the picture," Bielema said. "I knew what Coach Snyder would be wearing. I wasn't going to wear sweats today."

That's the usual Bielema attire, sometimes with flip flops. Snyder was asked about Bielema's goal to be casual. Bielema coached for two seasons on Snyder's K-State staff as co-defensive coordinator in 2002-03.

"When he was with us, he had on his blazer and tie," Snyder said. "It was a struggle for him. He's a casual guy. But he's a very talented coach and a good person."

Bielema recalls having to ditch his entire wardrobe when he left Iowa. He'd been there as a player, graduate assistant and assistant coach, covering 12 years.

"All I had was black and gold," he said. "Everything. So I had to dump all of that. I went on the road recruiting immediately.

"There was a big box waiting for me. There was this purple jacket. There isn't much that goes with purple. It's grey or black.

"I had a black (sports coat) at Iowa. But with Coach Snyder, it was going to be that Power Kat jacket. You are going to wear that."

Attire did seem to be among the hot topics at the Friday media opportunity at the Embassy Suites. It was the final chance to talk with anyone with the two teams ahead of the game scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Saturday at Liberty Bowl Stadium. There was a red Razorback helmet on the podium, but it apparently won't be what the Hogs wear.

"We've dabbled with the helmet a little," Bielema said, after indicating that the team approved of a uniform change  for the game. Bielema said it won't be with the jersey in what amounted to a game of hints.

There was talk about Memphis music legends, the great Elvis Presley and Justin Timberlake, part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. Both head coaches were given a chance to talk about their favorite of the two singers and their choice of either wet or dry ribs.

Bielema was the most clear on both subjects. He is a big Presley fan and it didn't matter if it was the early work or what a bowl moderator defined as the "jump suit Elvis." Snyder dodged the questions a bit.

"All Elvis is good Elvis," Bielema said. "I was influenced by my parents and they liked Elvis."

Asked to pick between Elvis and Timberlake, Bielema said, "I'm a purist. It's Elvis."

There was more discussion. Bielema said he's gotten into country music since arriving at Arkansas, but noted one of his best friends was a big fan of both Elvis and country singer Johnny Cash and a lot of their songs are played when they are together.

Snyder just said, "I want to be diplomatic and not anwer, but it's probably (Elvis). I have some of his 45s. I'm sure the other guy is going to do just fine."

On the ribs, both coaches have sampled Memphis cuisine, although there has not been many ribs consumed. Snyder said his wife picks his diet and allowed him two ribs. Bielema said he preferred wet ribs and had eaten some while in Memphis. Asked afterwards how many racks, he said, "I got two. Not racks, two ribs. I can eat a few racks, slabs."

There may be more consumed after the game. Bielema and his wife Jen plan to stay a few extra days in Memphis at the Peabody, the team hotel for this week. There is a plan to head to Forida to meet with draftable juniors Alex Collins and Denver Kirkland on Wednesday and Thursday.

Someone interjected that it would be an important recruiting trip. Bielema at first said, "It's pretty big." But he quickly backed up with a clear explanation of the goal.

"I want them to do what's best," he said. "If they have a one on their chest, I will help pack their bags."

Bielema said he's not sure what Collins and Kirkland will do and is still in the dark as far as Hunter Henry, too.

"I do know this, one of the things that they should consider is that we are going to have a pretty good team," Bielema said. "I don't know what those three are going to do."

One thing he does know is that one of the projections might be wrong as far as one NFL draft analyst. Kirkland was listed as one of the top guards in the draft and Bielema said that's not true. That got him going on recruiting services rating systems.

"It's a joke," he said. "I know some of you in the room do this, but I've looked at the information. I know. We've charted who is playing in the Super Bowl and it's a lot of twos and threes."

Bielema learned at Kansas State that it didn't take stars to win in college football. Snyder goes to bowls every year and without a highly rated class. Walkons dot the K-State roster. Both coaches were walkons as college players. So they believe in the under valued player.

Snyder said most scholarship players work hard, but said "every walkon works hard." Interestingly, Snyder will pick between two walkons as his starting quarterback for the bowl game. It could be either Joe Hubener or Cody Cook. Cook starts at wide receiver, but has also played some at quarterback. He's the quicker, more elusive of the two.

Asked to name a starter, Snyder quipped, "I'll tell you after the game."

Bielema said it wouldn't matter and that the Hogs had prepared for both. He wasn't around for Snyder's media session, but said, "I know he didn't tell you guys (who would start). It won't matter to us unless it's not one of those two."

Bielema is pleased with the bowl preparations. He said it's a continuation of the season as far as preparation. The goal is to get better every day and that's the best explanation for what he said has happened the past two seasons. There is obvious progress in the second half of both seasons with the Hogs going 5-1 in the last six weeks after a bye week in the middle of the season.

Bielema said the four-week preparations was an expanded version of the two weeks during a bye week. The Arkansas coach was asked if the 5-1 finish was a surprise.

"Obviously, I'm very proud of the way we finished," he said. "I expected it to come. Part of it was getting healthy. We got some guys back. But I believe we get better every day.

"I think with our bowl preparations, I can tell you that our guys love to play. We recruit that way. If you don't love the game, you are not going to last long. Our practices have been good as far as energy."

Bielema said observers from Rhodes College where the Hogs have practiced this week have commented on the intensity of the workouts. There was intensity at the end of Thursday's workout, the last full day of bowl prep.

"Our seniors get carried off the field on our last day of workouts," Bielema said, of an annual tradition. "(Sebastian) Tretola was carried off by eight freshman. You should have seen that. It was like something out of Egypt. Brandon Allen was almost dropped, so we may change that policy."

There is clearly no policy at Arkansas on the head coach wearing coat and tie and it doesn't seem likely to change.

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