Bret Bielema Talks Player Safety, Recruiting and More at 2013 SEC Media Days

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Bret Bielema Talks Player Safety, Recruiting and More at 2013 SEC Media Days
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

You never get a second chance to make a big first impression. On Wednesday evening, appearing before the full SEC media for the first time as Arkansas' head coach, Bret Bielema did just that.

The big, lumbering, former Wisconsin coach railed on about player safety in up-tempo offenses, the nature of SEC recruiting, Arkansas' 2013 expectations and even managed to give one writer a wake-up call in one of the week's most entertaining interviews.

Here are some highlights from a wildly fun presser.

The room was eager to hear from Bielema on the up-tempo offense issue. Bielema sent major ripples down the SEC's (and the country's) spine earlier this summer by proposing a rule change that allows defensive players to sub during no-huddle attacks.

He started his defense of the issue by describing his personal scheme, notoriously methodic, smashmouth and run game-oriented "normal American football."

That flowed perfectly into follow-ups about his crusade against no-huddle offenses. Earlier in the day, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said that he thought Bielema was joking when he first brought up the issue of slowing down the sport for safety reasons.

When alerted of that, Bielema made it emphatically clear that he wasn't.

At which point the new Arkansas coach began to speak with passion—and borderline rage—by barking into his microphone as he defended his players' safety.

So loud was Bielema's tirade that B/R's Barrett Sallee, stationed in the next room, could hear him bellowing through the walls.

Apparently, though, he wasn't loud enough to keep some of his audience awake. He had to stop himself mid-interview to call out some media members for sleeping in the front row.

Bielema's points on injuries are well-guided and noble. That said, as some Twitter pundits pointed out, his credo of "player safety above all else" is a little hypocritical given his tenure at Wisconsin.

Later, Bielema was asked about the Urban Meyer-Florida situation, whereby the former Gators (and current Ohio State Buckeyes) coach turned in his old team for recruiting violations. Bielema said he would never do that.

On the nature of SEC recruiting, Bielema said it was an "eye opener" just how much of an advantage the conference has due to national exposure.

He also said that in his new workplace of Arkansas, he would like to start recruiting heavily in Texas. especially since, as he put it, some in-state teams aren't doing so well.

Bielema expanded a little bit on the move from the Big Ten to the SEC, a move he's had to handle delicately so as not to offend his old opponents. He says he's always had an appreciation for his new conference, though.

He then made, perhaps, his most interesting comments of the evening, saying that he likes how low expectations are for Arkansas in 2013 and imploring voters to keep underrating his team. He thinks it might be able to fuel them.

He then signed off with a fitting "Go Hogs," capping what some believed was the most entertaining presser of media days thus far.

That might be a bit of a stretch—how quickly we forget what happened Tuesday—but it was certainly one to remember.

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter @BLeighDAT

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