The annual SEC Meetings got underway Tuesday in Destin , Fla., and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema had plenty on his mind.
“It’s my fourth year being at the SEC Meetings and it is always entertaining,” Bielema said. “I know that we will have a lot of different topics to go through.
“I think the part that has been fun over the last four years to just see the evolution of the game. Obviously the competitive game that I am involved with every Saturday, but also just all the things off the field.
“I kind of feel like our opportunity is coming up this fall and I look forward to all the growth between now and then.
“I came to the SEC and the SEC West in particular for a reason and it hasn’t disappointed in any way."
He touched on how the SEC coaches did not want to have satellite camps like the Big Ten did, but now they were going after each other.
“Everybody thought it was going to be the SEC vs (Big Ten) and now it turns into SEC vs. (SEC),” Bielema said. “We’re all carnivores. We’re all looking to attack and hunt.”
Arkansas had planned to have satellite camps in Louisiana and AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but those got canceled.
The Razorbacks are still ready to have satellite camps in Houston, Atlanta, Tampa and Detroit.
“There’s a lot of intra-conference struggles to say the least,” Bielema said.
Bielema also noted that he would like to see a Big Ten/SEC football challenge.
“I think one of the greatest things — and I was in it on the other side — when I was in the Big Ten (at Wisconsin), they had the Big Ten-ACC Challenge in basketball, and I thought it was just so cool to see crossover games at the beginning of the year,” Bielema said.
He noted the ACC might be a better fit.
“I’d love to see it with the Big Ten, but I think the ACC, with 14 teams, we’ve got the same number of teams,” Bielema said. “You look at a four-year window and you reserve the second and third weeks and you play one through 14.
“Let the commissioners come together and decide who’s playing, or an outside source, and just have the Big Ten and the SEC go together on two different weekends.
“…That would be an awesome thing for everybody involved."
Bielema has been vocal lately about hoping that football can have a system like basketball in that it could have a combine for underclassman that would give them more input after declaring early.
“One of things that jumped out to me where recruiting was so different for such comparable sport,” Bielema said Tuesday at the SEC’s spring meetings. “…The two things I think basketball has figured out is that right there.”
Bielema specifically pointed to two Arkansas’ running backs in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins as well as junior offensive lineman Denver Kirkland, who all declared early for the NFL Draft.
“I would think those three juniors if they had that information they wouldn’t have made the decision they made,” Bielema said.
Bielema believes the NFL and NCAA agree on one thing.
“There are two things that we have in common,” Bielema said. “The NFL doesn’t want players early that are not ready and the NCAA – us guys – don’t want have them leave too early.
“It makes too much sense to not have a combine. So how do we have to get there? We got to have communication. It is probably way above my pay grade, but I will speak out on it at any time.”
He noted that the SEC coaches were in agreement about this – even his nemesis Gus Malzahn of Auburn.
“I’ve reached out to Gus,” Bielema said. You guys want a story? That is the first thing that Gus and I have agreed on since I’ve been here.”
Bielema is not happy about “these insurance rackets” that are going on at some schools.
“I had about seven or eight guys that were eligible or were contacted about having insurance placed on them,” Bielema said. “If you are a 21 year old and somebody tells you that you are going to have $2 million on you, who wouldn’t want that?
“They would say ‘that’s kind of cool. I must be really good.’
“So now you go to this fund and somebody in our league – I think Texas A&M – threw out that $50,000 figure and that is a huge recruiting tool.”
Bielema also tapped into the NBA while making a point about chemistry and talent.
"I told our guys that at Arkansas we need to be a little bit more (Steph) Curry and a little less LeBron (James)," Bielema said. "We have to be more about the team and about chemistry and being together...I listed all the guys that got drafted ahead of him (Curry) that were not even in the league anymore."