Here’s the Saturday night open line. Whale of a football game  underway today. Arkansas is up 42-38 as I write this, with about 10 minutes left in the game. UPDATE: Hogs lost another, in last seconds, 48-45.

Is this the swan song for Bret Bielema, the head football coach at Arkansas? I’ve been told for weeks the answer is yes. A failure to act on Bielema, without a breakout season in five years at Arkansas, finally coalesced a majority on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees to fire Athletic Director Jeff Long. So it’s always seemed unlikely he’d go and his failed pick as coach of the marquee team at the university would stay.


Like a lot of people — and apparently the players — I like ol‘ Bret. But the evaluation of a $4.2 million-a-year employee has one metric, and it isn’t likability.

UPDATE: The news release was in the can. Minutes after the game ended, a news release was issued announcing Bielema’s firing.


Sports reporters say Bielema was a class act at his post-game news conference. He spoke well of the University of Arkansas and teared up when he said he’d do anything he could to help the transition. He said he hoped to coach again. “This just didn’t work out,” he said.

Quote on Twitter from Thomas Murphy of Democrat-Gazette:


One of the things that will come out of this is I have a beautiful wife and a beautiful daughter, who will forever be born in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The official release:

Bielema dismissed as head football coach

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema has been dismissed by the University of Arkansas, it was announced by Interim Athletics Director Julie Cromer Peoples. Bielema completed his fifth season as the Razorbacks’ head coach on Friday.

“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Razorback Football program,” Cromer Peoples said. “During the course of the past five seasons, we have not been able to sustain the success on the field that is expected and required at the University of Arkansas. There is no question that Coach Bielema has been a valued and respected member of our department and has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes, including supporting them in their pursuit of graduation. We are grateful for his contributions to our program and most importantly his investment in the lives of our student-athletes. We wish him the very best both personally and professionally.

“Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally. I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nation’s best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”

Named the 32nd head coach in program history in December of 2012, Bielema compiled a 29-34 record over his five seasons. He led Arkansas to three straight bowl appearances, highlighted by wins over Texas at the 2014 Texas Bowl and Kansas State at the 2016 Liberty Bowl. In 2014, Arkansas became the first unranked team in college football history to post back-to-back shutouts over ranked opponents after blanking No. 20 LSU and No. 8 Ole Miss.

No details yet of the buyout of Bielema’s contract and what the future holds for his assistant coaches.

The Hogs are on the hook for up to $4.6 million to pay Jeff Long through 2022. Bielema’s contract runs through 2020 and one estimate for his buyout puts it between $5 and $6 million, though that’s not bee officially confirmed. Almost $4 million worth of assistant coaches have contracts through June 30, except for coordinator Dan Enos, whose $800,000 job is under a contract that runs through 2020.