Coach Bielema's SEC Media Days record is officially 1-0.
He was going through the prelims as Gus Malzahn, king of the no-huddle party, took a shot at two good, old school football coaches - Bielema and Nick Saban.
King Saban and "blue collar" Bret believe that up-tempo offenses like Malzahn's could lead to more player injuries. They would like to see the rules changed. Wednesday, Malzahn said he thought the suggestion was "a joke."
Then it was time for Coach Bielema.
Like a boxer in his first championship fight, Coach Bielema came out cautiously. He looked a little off his game. Then he got word of Malzahn's verbal jab.
It was Bieliema at his best.
"He thought it was a joke?" Bielema asked. Two things you don't do is question Coach Bielema's honesty or sincerity. If Malzahn's claim was a strong jab, Bielema's response was a barrage of big right hands.
This was just part of his passionate plea for player safety:
"I've had a situation that I've had to call a parent because their son may not make it through because of an injury; not make it through life, but the next day, whether he can play football or not. To me, that's real. That's the job I have to protect."
We saw an intensity from Coach B. that we didn't see from the previous nine coaches who spoke in the main room.
He said the 2013 Razorbacks are his kind of team: strong up the middle, built from front to back. He called Travis Swanson the best center in college football, and Kiero Small a fullback who will "whack you in the shins, the knees, hips, wherever he can get you."
Defensively, Bielema likes the fact that they have four senior lineman.
Three Hog coaches in three years and his goal is to be the most popular. He's off to a good start. Those sweater vests the players wore (but hated) last year are out.
He urged media members voting in the pre-season poll to pick his Hogs low. "The lower the better," Bielema pleaded.
Bret Bielema loves the underdog role.
"But I do excel in situations where people think very, very little of us. For those of you that want to, vote us lower. I mean that with all my heart. Then just sit back and watch."
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