5 worst Arkansas football head coaching hires

Let's look back at the history of Arkansas football and examine the careers of the five worst Arkansas football head coaches of all-time.
Western Kentucky v Arkansas
Western Kentucky v Arkansas / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
2 of 5

No. 4: Bret Bielema (2013-17)

When hiring a coach, cultural fit is critical, especially in the south. Thus, Arkansas' decision to hire Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin in 2012 seemed to be a bit strange.

Ironically, the man who, upon his hiring, proudly proclaimed that he was the son of a pig farmer meaning he was perfect for Arkansas, just never figured out how to fit in in Fayetteville. Maybe he should have started off by knowing that a razorback is not a farm pig but a wild boar, a species of pig that couldn't be much different in temperament than Babe the Gallant Pig.

What made Bielema even worse as a hire, though, was that the midwesterner's football beliefs were rather antiquated. In an era when even stubborn programs in the mighty S.E.C. started to realize that the forward pass was a healthy pursuit and not something to be feared anymore, Bielema still wanted to line up with a fullback, two tight ends, and run the ball into a brick wall.

That might have worked at Wisconsin where great offensive linemen grow on trees but it didn't work at Arkansas. Bielema should have known that at Arkansas he wasn't going to recruit the types of linemen needed to cram the ball down Alabama or LSU's throats.

At Wisconsin, he was the coach of the premiere offensive line program in his conference so elite blockers flocked to Madison each year. In the southeast, elite linemen aren't flocking to Arkansas. They head to Georgia, Bama, LSU, etc.

Bielema went just 29-33 overall and 11-29 against conference foes. What's more, he managed just one season in which his team finished higher than fifth in its own division...not in the entire S.E.C....but in the Western Division.

Sure, there have been worse coaches at Arkansas. Yes, Bielema did take the Hogs to three straight lower-tier bowl games.

Regardless, he was a poor hire because his brand of football is still rooted in the 1990s. Instead of an old-school tactician, Arkansas needed an innovator, someone to out-scheme more talented rosters, someone who would be able to mold his style to fit the type of athletes he was going to get at Arkansas.

Bielema didn't understand that Arkansas isn't to the S.E.C. what Wisconsin is to the Big 10. Instead, he thought he could just run the ball right at the best defenses in the nation despite not having offensive lines equipped to do so. Thus, he was doomed to fail from the start, and that's what he did meaning he belongs in the discussion of the worst hires Arkansas has made in the modern era of the sport.