Here’s a little pre-game reading. Over at ESPN’s Grantland, Matt Hinton took a look at Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks and their old-fashioned grit-and-grind offense, an outlier in the increasingly spread-happy Southeastern Conference.
If the old maxim that teams are defined by their coaches’ personalities is true, then those personalities are clustering increasingly toward the middle of the spectrum, distinguished less by their hybrid playbooks than by their execution, and also by how often the coaches evoke words like tough,physical, and grit.
Someday, I suspect, Arkansas’s Bret Bielema hopes to have at least two of those words engraved on his tombstone, just below the Bob Marley lyrics. In the meantime, the self-proclaimed Head Hog remains the poster bro for the old-school mentality, the one SEC coach for whom the gap between old and new looms as real and wide as ever, impervious to any rhetoric to the contrary.
So far, Bielama’s old-school style has mostly led to three yards and a cloud of duds, but the Hogs have showed some progress this year. Kickoff against decidedly new-school-SEC foe Texas A&M, the sixth ranked team in the nation, is 2:30 pm.
Like this line from Hinton on Bielama advocating for a rule-change to force offenses to wait 10 seconds before snapping the ball:
When it comes to adapting to 21st-century innovation, Bielema is the gridiron equivalent of a record company executive who wants to send everyone who illegally downloads music to jail.
The whole thing is worth a read.