Years at Arkansas: 1
Record at Arkansas: 3-9 (0-8 SEC)
Seat Temperature: Warm
Despite his successes, former head coach Bobby Petrino's poor judgement off the field led to a change at the helm for 2012. After a disappointing, but entertaining, outing from interim head coach John L. Smith, the administration announced a coup in December of 2012: The Razorbacks snatched Bret Bielema out from under the nose of the Big Ten's Wisconsin.
The shock, and the prestige, of the hire can not be overstated. Bielema had coached the Badgers for seven seasons, winning the Big Ten championship the three previous years. For a program with the level of disarray that Arkansas was battling, to pull a coach of this level away from a program like Wisconsin was nothing short of historic.
Bielema, however, faced problems of perception from the outset. In February of 2012, before he could fathom he'd be coaching in the Southeastern Conference, Bielema was quoted as stating, "I can tell you this: We at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC in any way, shape, or form." Now, imagine being an Arkansas player hearing the announcement of Bielema as your next head coach.
His ability to sell his program has so far shown to be lacking. After winning his first three games against cupcakes, Bielema's Razorback squad finished the season with nine consecutive losses, ending the season winless in the conference. Even John L. Smith, that supposedly subpar interim head coach, won two conference games.
No one is expecting miracles from Bielema. Not immediately, anyways. The program is in need of a complete rebuilding from the ground up, and that will take some time. In the SEC, though, another three-win season could very well put a coach who was never friendly with the conference to begin with in the middle of his fanbase's crosshairs.