Bielema went 29-34 (11-29 SEC) in five seasons with the Razorbacks, never winning more than eight games in a season nor finishing better than tied for third in the SEC West. Arkansas showed some early progress after Bielema was hired away from Wisconsin, going from 3-9 in 2013 to 8-5 in 2015, but it has all been downhill from there for the Hogs.
“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Raozrback Football program,” interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples said in a statement released by the school.
“… Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally. I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nations’ best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”
Bielema didn’t know his future until the close struck triple zeros against Missouri.
“I was informed coming off the field that I am no longer to coach of Arkansas,” he said, according to Pig Trail Nation. “Never had this happen to me in my life, so this is new for me.”
Bielema’s Razorback teams never contended for the SEC West; never recruited at a level high enough to compete with the rosters of division foes Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn; and Bielema’s old-school, smash-mouth style of football never prospered against rivals that had similar philosophies with deeper rosters.
Aside from a good November in 2014 that included wins over an injury-riddled Ole Miss team that went to a New Year’s Six bowl and an LSU team that was on the downturn, his time in Fayetteville, Arkansas, never came close to what he accomplished in Madison, Wisconsin. His time in Fayetteville ends with a conference record that’s 18 games under .500, a 180-degree turn from his days with the Badgers that finished 18 games above .500 in the Big Ten.
He was simply the wrong style of coach at the wrong time.
And because of that, this decision was hardly a surprise.
Bielema lost his biggest cheerleader earlier this month when Arkansas decided to part ways with athletic director Jeff Long — the man who hired him. Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman first reported — and CBS Sports can confirm — that several influential Arkansas donors and boosters are eyeing Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, an Arkansas native who has ties to the region, to take Bielema’s place. But with Auburn in the thick of the College Football Playoff hunt, it likely would take a lot to lure Malzahn back to Northwest Arkansas.