In Protest of Closing Razorback Football Practices
In protest, there will be no column by me today as a result of Razorback football coach Bret Bielema’s policy to close practices to the public and the media. Comically, the University of Arkansas issued a few stock photos for the media to use, but I’m not even sure that they are from a current practice since one of the players appears to be David Bazzel.
Closing practice to the public is essentially the same as conducting a media blackout, kind of like when the command module goes around to the dark side of the moon. So in essence, Bielema has just moved the football program to the dark side of the moon, although some may argue that happened when the big-money cronies ran off Ken Hatfield.
This is nothing new to me. I railed against Houston Nutt when he put up the black tarps to keep people out of practice and stop them from taking photos. Who would have known that Nutt was so far out on the leading edge of coaching philosophies when it comes to overzealously worrying about the “secret plans” getting out to the opponent? At the time, Nutt caught a lot of flak from all over the state about his media blackout.
This time, there has hardly been a grumble about Bielema taking it to the extreme, which is to be expected because this is how our Incestuous Razorback Press Clique operates. These guys would certainly never challenge the popular new coach and get on the UA Sports Complex’s bad side or be labeled by the homers as “a bad fan.” Bielema’s honeymoon as the new head coach lives, for now.
In this day and age, I understand the concern of some recruiting nerd Skyping from your practice with the hope that he will be viewed as an Internet insider of the program just like the paid media guys, or some teenager putting photos on Instagram after he is uploading all his Kate Upton photos, or Scott Faldon tweeting about practice. (“Who’s Scott Faldon?” Rick Schaeffer just asked himself.)
I get that the thinking is Bielema’s Big Ten offense will be new in the SEC since none of the defensive coordinators will have seen it in person (even though Razorback offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, not to be confused with Tim Chaney, came straight from Tennessee). Nick Saban and Les Miles have seen this coordinator’s work before, but I understand the delusion, I mean illusion, of secrecy.
Having seen Wisconsin in the past, any observer might conclude that there was nothing exactly secret or innovative about that offense or any Big Ten offense for that matter. I have never viewed the conference where Bielema cut his teeth as the bastion of new ideas. If anything, it is more like a Hall of Fame tribute to old one. Whatever works.
I will give Bobby Petrino some limited accolades beyond the volleyball player because he met the media part of the way even though he had nothing but disdain for the process. For the most part, his practices were closed. But more often than not, he allowed the very beginning of practice to be open for the media to get a quote, footage, or a picture and then he would have his people run everybody out.
At least Petrino gave some appearance of allowing limited access to the state’s favorite team by the media and public. Petrino also held some open practices occasionally to appease Wally and even was gracious enough to sign autographs from time to time judging from all those pictures.
It seems if you want to see your pigskin Razorbacks this spring, you’re going to have to make a trip to the Red-White game. I’m guessing cameras may not be allowed so get that credit card out and sign up for RAZORVISION.
I’m sure the UA will also grant you the privilege of bidding on an actual football used in the Red-White game for that up-close-and-personal feeling for being at the game. It might even be signed by Jeff Long (your receipt of winning bid, that is)!
Send your practice schedule to email@example.com.