The numbers are in and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s approval rating is up

Arkansas-Bret Bielema

Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

Bret Bielema is as popular as he has been in 2017

The Arkansas head man is one of the better coaches in the SEC, based on résumé. Most of the success Bielema can showcase on said résumé, however, came from his days at Wisconsin. Some Arkansas fans are less than keen on what Bielema’s done with the Razorbacks.

SEC Country’s monthly coaches’ approval rating numbers were released late Sunday night and Bielema came in with 68.8 percent approval. That put Bielema 13th out of the 14 coaches in the SEC. The only coach to rate lower with his fan base was Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin at 64.7 percent.

The mark was actually Bielema’s highest since the tracking poll began in February. Low numbers made sense then, what with the Razorbacks coming off a brutal ending to the season and all. Then, those losses stayed top of mind all through the spring as Bielema’s numbers kept diving. Sunday was the first day they’d gone up since.

Likely that has to do with the usual preseason anxiousness. Everyone thinks they’re going to be good before the season starts. It’s the whole “everyone is undefeated” thing.

Let’s take a closer look at Bielema’s approval rating in September, though. Because the season starts Friday and when this next one comes around, Arkansas could be staring at an excellent record or nearing disaster. Stay tuned.

Arkansas vs. Florida A&M — finally

Baseball used to be called America’s pastime. In some households it still is. Good luck, though, finding a soul who thinks the game is still the country’s most popular. That mantle has belonged to football for several years now. In the state of Arkansas, it always has.

And now, after months of waiting, the Natural State can welcome back its favorite team.

The Arkansas football team starts its 2017 season Thursday night against Florida A&M at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

This season is an important one for the Razorbacks, who left many disappointed and frustrated the last time most anyone saw them. A regular-season-ending loss to Missouri was a gut-punch. A blown 24-0 halftime lead against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl was the knockout blow. Arkansas’ promising 2016 season with a game left turned into the most sour finish since Bielema’s first season “on the hill.”

Arkansas will start by taking out some of that frustration against lowly Florida A&M. The Rattlers haven’t finished a season in FCS at better than .500 since 2011. Given the game is on a Thursday, in Little Rock and the opponent is less than stellar, expect lots of empty seats by halftime.

Doubtful anyone cares now, though. They just want a win, baby.

Two words: Hunter, heave

It will go down as the most famous play in Arkansas football history.

Fourth-and-25. Ball on the Ole Miss 40. Razorbacks are down, 52-45, in overtime. Brandon Allen connects with Hunter Henry and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

No one who saw it will forget it. The still photograph of Arkansas’ tight end, Henry, tossing the ball back from where it came is shared regularly. Any mention of Ole Miss in Razorbacks Country, the play gets brought up.

And while it’s the most famous play in Arkansas history, there are three more that have stood a test of time. Be sure and check back here later Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as we count down the final three plays in the 25 Most Memorable Moments in Arkansas’ 25 SEC seasons.

Shout-outs to Deon Stewart, Frank Ragnow, Santos Ramirez and Kendrick Jackson

SEC Country asked six Arkansas football players last week for their predictions on the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather fight this past weekend. Four of the six correctly selected the winner.

As the world knows — even I know and I haven’t watched TV or been on social media in three days — Mayweather beat McGregor by technical knockout in 10th round Saturday night. Who’d have guessed the best boxer of the last 25 years (at least) would handle a mixed-martial arts fighter?

Well, poor Henre’ Toliver and Armon Watts wouldn’t have. They were the only two Arkansas players who picked McGregor. Check out the video. It’s great in retrospect.

Austin Allen: perpetual nice guy

Arkansas’ quarterback just earned bonus points in my book. This is an industry where those of us in the media tend to root more for people than teams. I’m rooting for Austin Allen a bit more, especially if you know my personal fondness for teachers and that profession.

Allen, a few days ago, surprised his former kindergarten teacher Thelma Thomason on her 80th birthday. A camera crew was there to catch the moment. Accordingly, here’s another recommendation to check out the video.

And you might be saying to yourself, “Why was there a camera crew there? That’s not even genuine.” Understandable. But I buy it. Thomason taught Austin’s brother, Brandon, and their sister, too. Besides, if you have met one of the Allen bunch, you’d know they were raised right.

Well-done, Austin.

ICYMI

  • Could the Florida A&M game be the last Razorbacks game at War Memorial Stadium? Even though the contract runs through next season, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Wally Hall thinks it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the university to buy it out.
  • Arkansas has made habit out of putting tight ends in the NFL, wrote Tom Murphy of the Democrat-Gazette.
  • Razorbacks soccer freshman Parker Goins scored 4 goals in Arkansas’ 6-1 win against Abilene Christian on Sunday afternoon. The soccer team is ranked 23rd in the nation.
  • Rex Nelson, an editor at the Democrat-Gazette, said Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and the administration should not have the final say on whether Little Rock deserves more Arkansas football games.
  • Tight end Grayson Gunter is going to redshirt this season. Gunter is coming off shoulder surgery and the Razorbacks can already go about five deep at the position. Gunter will pick back up in 2018 as a sophomore.

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.

The post The numbers are in and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s approval rating is up appeared first on SEC Country.

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