Arkansas Coach Fires Back at Auburn Coach about No-Huddle
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Here's a fact of life in the SEC:
If you don't have an enemy, develop one.
That was the case Wednesday for new Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who went on the counterattack against new Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn.
Bielema was responding to Malzahn's comments on the no-huddle offense. Malzahn was answering a reporter's earlier question about the no-huddle offense and how some coaches think it can cause injuries, Malzahn said this:
"When I first heard that, to be honest with you, I thought it was a joke. As far as health or safety issues, that's like saying the defense shouldn't blitz after a first down because they're a little fatigued and there's liable to be a big collision in the backfield.
"If you're going to look at rule changes, officials, we need to look at the guys on defense that are faking injuries to slow down these pace teams. That's where college football's going. You see more and more teams using pace. I think you'll see it more and more at the next level also."
Bielema didn't take too kindly to what Malzhan had to say and fired back:
"He thought it was a joke? Oh, I'm not a comedian. Everything that I say is things I truly believe in. When I go into a young man's home, when you go to recruit a kid that's 17 years old and you're going to move him half way across the country and you can look mom and dad in the eye and you can say, 'I'm going to look out for the personal well-being of your son and every thing that I do. It's going to be a game day, it's going to be a practice, it's going to be a conditioning session. I am trusting you to give me your son to come play for me."
And it gets better.
"It's not a joke to me. It's something I feel strongly about. It's not just rhetoric. I'm not a scientist. You do not want me to walk in with a computer and try to figure things out. But I had a guy e-mail me two weeks ago because of the articles, and he was all about a statistical evidence that shows that, as players become more tired, they become more vulnerable to injury. That's all I'm talking about. If you want to play hurry-up offense, play it. I'll play it. I don't care. But it doesn't mean I cannot try to protect my players, offensively and defensively. I have just as many offensive players as I have defensive players. That's a fact."
Well, his math is a fact. We can call him Captain Obvious on that one.
But the health and safety implications are more complex issues. Some would say the reality of playing a collision sport like football is a health and safety issue in itself. The practicality of the sport -- no matter what the pace -- lies somewhere in between.
When Nick Saban broached the topic, his motives were suspect. He was hedging his bets against a possible BCS showdown with Oregon. Even so, even the most stalwart Alabama fan had to admit that Saban was reaching on that one.
And if Saban making a comment on the matter isn't taken more seriously, shouldn't an SEC newbie like Bielema expect to get blowback?
And you think Bielema is just a tad pissed at Malzahn? I'll bet they didn't rumble like this in the Big Ten. These two haven't even faced one other yet and rivarly has already developed.
Gotta love the SEC.
Auburn and Arkansas get together for milk and cookies on 2 November.