Tusk to Tail: Notes on Bielema’s 44% approval rating

The members of Tusk to Tail, who have been following the Hogs nearly all their lives and missed only one game in the past 15 years, have mixed opinions on a survey that shows a 44% approval rating for Head Hog Coach Bret Bielema.

Each week – or almost each week – the Tusk to Tail crew predict the winners of 5 games and answer one question. (And fans may LINK HERE to a webform to make their picks and see how they fare against Tusk to Tail.)

A recent survey of Arkansas politics included a questions about Coach Bielema. Little Rock-based Impact Management Group conducted the survey and provided the results to The City Wire.

The question posited by Impact Management was:
Thinking about Arkansas Razorback football for just a moment, can you tell me whether you approve or disapprove of the job that Bret Bielema is doing as head coach?
Approve: 44%
Disapprove: 14%
No Opinion or Don’t Know: 43%

Following are the Tusk to Tail picks for the week and their thoughts on Bielema’s approval/disapproval results.

The Games
#8 Auburn at Arkansas
Tennessee at #10 Missouri
#23 Michigan at #24 Michigan State
#18 Oklahoma State at #15 Texas Tech
#7 Miami at #3 Florida State

The Question
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema has a 44% approval rating. What do you think of the rating?  Do you personally approve or disapprove of the job that Bret Bielema is doing as head coach?

The Responses
• Sean Casey

Aubie wins easily, 35-10.
Tenner loses a close one on the road, Mizzou prevails 31-28.
Michigan State beats Michigan 35-21
Okie Light over Tech 87-77.
Free Shoe U over the Canes 45-14.

I'm not surprised with Bielema'a 44% approval rating. In light if the collapse at Rutgers and blowout losses to USCeast and Bama, this seems to be a forgiving approval rating. The Razorbacks have been thoroughly whipped and laid down more than once and I'm not seeing improvement from the team. Other than good performances by a few underclassmen and Kiero Small, there is little evidence on the field for a brighter future. It does make me wonder if Jeff Long went the right route by hiring Bielema. A loss this Saturday may show there were better options available.

• Jack Clark
Michigan St.
Oklahoma St.
Florida St.

I don't really have an opinion on Bielema's job performance. I think this season was doomed from the beginning. Had Bielema been able to bring his entire team from Wisconsin with him then I believe things might be different. The fact is, a coach was hired to play Alabama and LSU type football with players that aren't as good as those teams.

I believe that teams like Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky have to rely on dynamic coaches who spread the ball all over the field in order to compete on this league. I predicted a 3-9 season this year, I suspect next year will be 4-8. In 2015, we might make a bowl game. The future of Arkansas football is not bright.

• Dale Cullins
Hard one this week, I want to see the Hogs pull off an upset but I just don't think our defense is up to the challenge yet. Auburn 34, Hogs 20
MO 27,  Tenner 17
Big Blue 32, MSU 24
OSU 41 TT 38
FSU 38  UM 17

For Bielema, I approve. The record is pretty much where we thought it would be. The Hogs defense is worse than expected and the QB play is worse than expected. I figured Allen and the D would be better and even then the Hogs would be lucky to pull off a 6-6 record this season. I am disappointed with the performance so far but I know Coach was dealt a short deck this season and to be honest, I don't see it improving much next season. I would like to say 2015 will be better but the Hogs schedule will be stacked against them that year. It could be 2016 before the Hogs even glimpse a 10 win season.

• Greg Houser
I'll take Auburn plus 10. Moral victory here we come!
Not a fan of Mizzou, but I'll take them by 7 over Tenner.
I'll root for the underdogs at home. Sparty by 3.
Kingsbury wins in a shootout over "the man who is 40!"
Dem Criminoles will beat the other criminals. FSU by 14.

I believe this poll is indicative of how the Razorback fan base is so frantic right now. I don't know how I can make this anymore clear: If Houston Nutt could trip his way into a couple of Western Division rings then Bielema can certainly do it. Granted, Saban was not established yet.

Bielema has a completely different system than Petrino. It requires all facets of the game to be better. Scheming is not his thing. I hope the true Razorback faithful give him time.

I also hope that Bielema realizes how many fanatics are just scared about the program. If you are, take up a hobby. It's not in your hands anyway. Oh, and by the way, stop trolling any JuCo kid that flips his commitment. Any kid that commits and de-commits is looking for attention and won't fit into our family anyway!

I like Bielema and think he'll do just as good or better than Nutt. Will he do as good as Petrino? I don't know. If I did, I'd be working in Vegas!

• Craig May
Texas Tech

I don’t think you can approve or disapprove of the job Coach Bielema is doing at this point. He’s in the process of putting his system in place and getting the type of players he needs to be successful. This season is about playing the hand you were dealt from the disaster that was Bobby Petrino. I’ll reserve judgment on the new coach until the end of year 3.

• David Rice
Arkansas shocks the world! (Just seeing if anyone is still reading this)
Missouri thumps the Vols pretty good unless they are still hungover from last week’s heartbreak.
I like Michigan State’s no frills approach.  I’ll take Sparty.
Texas Tech has simply looked better than OK State.  Guns up for the Red Raiders.
Florida State should win handily.

That 44% approval rating is misleading, because only 14% responded that they don’t approve. At this point in Bielema’s Arkansas career, I have to agree with the 43% who said they just don’t know. Sure I wish we were winning more games, but the bottom line is that Bielema was dealt a bad hand, particularly for his style of play.

Louisville went through the same thing after replacing Petrino. That great season they had last year was their first one since Bobby left them in 2006. Like Steve Spurrier said after South Carolina mopped the field with the Razorbacks: “Bret (Bielema) and his guys need to recruit their way out of it, and it's going to take a little time.”

• Mark Wagner
Arkansas over Auburn by a field goal.
Missouri over Tenner since they are at home.
Texas Tech over OSU (Gundy should have changed jobs when he could)
Florida State over Miami

I'm surprised that the rating is only 44%. I think it shows how unrealistic the fans are. I personally believe he is the right coach to build the program back to where we want it to be. Yes, there are some things I wish were better, and this season has been a bit of a disappointment, but I believe that things would have been this bad regardless of who the coach is. I get that people may not like Bielema, but for anyone to think at this stage of his tenure at Arkansas that he should have already turned things around … well, those folks don't really understand the game.

• The Guy Who Stole Dale’s Phone
Mich State
OK State, but a tough game to pick.
Florida State

I am surprised the approval rating is not worse. A five-game losing streak that includes being outscored 104-7 in the last two games will wipe out any previous strong approval rating. While I don't approve of the results so far this season, I am not convinced Coach B was the wrong choice. I think the schedule will allow for a few more competitive games in the short run this season and the new sheriff will be given at least a couple of years to set things right.

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  1. Griff

    Who else with his track record was available? And that wanted the job? He will get it done with his own players.

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