OT: Bielema's hand written note to Arkansas AD in Sept re: Petrino

Submitted by iawolve on December 11th, 2012 at 10:29 AM

I guess this is on the up and up, but it seems strange unless Ark AD Jeff Long and Bret have known each other for a while. I am not sure on that one. I can't imagine Hoke sending a similar note or even considering that fact he should send a note to an AD in a different conference who has fired a coach. FWIW, Long mentioned the note when he annouced Bielema as the HC so it clearly had an impact on him getting a new job.






December 11th, 2012 at 10:34 AM ^

Rome talked about this on his show last week. Brett drops Rome a handwritten note after every appearance on his show and is known for doing it. However, the Arkansas thing seems a little different.


December 11th, 2012 at 11:06 AM ^

It was really interesting to hear, and i thought Rome's perspective on the note writing was interesting. However, i wonder how many letters he wrote to ADs similar to the one to Arkansas.

I'm not sure i think anything is wrong with it. We all have to look out for our future aspirations...but if I'm Wisconsin, I'm still pissed.


December 11th, 2012 at 11:15 AM ^

Pissed or disappointed?  He won you a lot of games, then took a job that he thought was better (and for more money). 

If you're pissed he left, does the fact that he wrote a letter make you any more pissed? 

If I'm a Wsconsin fan, if I'm pissed at anyone, it would be the AD for not paying my coach enough to keep him, or not letting him pay his assistants enough to keep them.  My guess is this mostly comes down to money, and Wisconsin wouldn't shell out like Arkansas will.  That's all on Wisconsin, and not on Bielema, in my opinion.


December 11th, 2012 at 10:35 AM ^

All it will do is make it appear as though Bielema was none-too-subtly trying to throw his hat into the ring without actually doing so.


December 11th, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

See posts like this one are why we need the real up (and down) voting put back in.  I just gave him a useless up vote cause he'd already max'd out at 5 but that letter is hilarious and deserves more public praise.

Good job Needs.  


I Like Burgers

December 11th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

Anything handwritten shows a lot more thought and consideration than a phone call.  Email is the worst and shows the least amount of thought.  Its a half step above a text.  I think its classy that Bielma does this.


December 11th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

What does the PS say? I can't totally make it out. Here's what I've got:

"PS. One thing I have learned through my time here at UW is that today's society wants to win [____] all, but as Coaches & Administrators we need to balance(? also kind of looks like believe) the Big Picture for all our student athletes!"


December 11th, 2012 at 10:46 AM ^

I'm sorry but I have no problem with coaches wanting to move up to a better job and grooming job prospects while they are in a lower-level position.  This is a profession.  Raise your hand if you have never contacted a potential future employer while... employed.  Yeah I don't see any hands.  Because I'm on a computer.  But still.


December 11th, 2012 at 11:09 AM ^

I agree completely.  Both my wife and I make it a point to keep up relationships with people who could be employers down the road, and handwritten notes are a good way to do that.  What if Bielema was simply keeping his options open in case he got canned?

That said, coaches and administrators across the country have relationships with each other.  It could simply be that Bielema knows Long and wanted to send him a note because that's what he does.  There may have been no ulterior motive except to say what he said. 


December 11th, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

Keeping up relationships, say with Christmas cards, birthday wishes, congrats about a new baby, winning an award, etc, etc. is one thing. Everybody does it, and I have plenty of times.

However, how many times have you or your wife sent a note to a prospective employer saying "Hey, great decision on shitcanning that asshole who fucked up! You're awesome!"

I'd submit that there is a huge difference between these two things.

My bigger point is that regardless of how Bielema's note is viewed—obviously there's a difference of opinion here—there was absolutely no upside for Long to have released it, or to have even mentioned it, but plenty of downside. All it will do is cast Bielema in a bad light in the eyes of plenty of people in the college football world. He's going to be the butt of Eddie Haskell/brown-noser jokes for a long time.


December 11th, 2012 at 12:07 PM ^

I'm not talking about Christmas cards, mr assumptive. 

Both her and I have about a half dozen or so people we regularly invite out to coffee or lunch who are potential employers - people in our fields with some level of influence or authority.  We don't write letters about people'e decisions, but unlike college football, most professions aren't nearly so public.  But Jennie has definitely written letters saying "congrats on the big case I heard you won" or "congrats on the article you had published in the ______ law journal." 

I'm just saying, this type of thing is not a bad idea, nor is it uncommon.

French West Indian

December 11th, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

...with WolvinLA2 on the point that it's not a bad idea.  Cultivating a network is wise and there's really no harm in reaching out to a stranger whom you admire for whatever reason.  Likely a shot in the dark, but why not?

Of course, I also agree with the other point that the AD is a fool for releasing this.  There's nothing good to come of it.  Makes one wonder though, just how many notes Bielama has written and who he has sent them too.  Maybe others will come forward but probably not.


December 11th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

I already agree with you on what you and your wife routinely do; it's intelligent networking, whether it's Christmas cards or lunch or whatever.

My point is that there is a large gulf between intelligent networking and sending a hand-written mash note to a possible future employer praising them for firing one of their own employees, regardless of the circumstances.

I'm not asserting that there is anything unethical about doing so, but if that sort of thing ever comes to public light, a large percentage of the general population is going to look at it not as intelligent networking but as trying to take personal advantage of a bad situation in a somewhat obsequious and brown-nosing manner.

The thing I'm really curious about is whether LSU Freek will do anything with this.


December 11th, 2012 at 12:01 PM ^

Ask Mario Cristobal, Mike Leach, and Jim Leavitt, to name a few, if they should have stayed out of loyalty to their schools when they were getting offers from a lot of other places.  Ask Rich Rod and Skip Holtz about how long coaches are given to get their own people in.

When it comes to college administrators, loyalty is a one-way street: a coach is "obligated" to be loyal to them, but they will dump any coach for any reason, and sometimes trash their reputations on the way out the door.  

The "shelf life" for coaches has diminished by close to 50 percent in the last ten years.  Coaches used to get a minimum of five years to rebuild or remake a team; now they get three, and someone else gets to coach their first senior and redshirt senior classes.  Coaches who even listen to offers from other schools are given "extensions," only to be fired after one bad year.

Nick Saban used to look like an evil, money-grubbing POS to me.  Now, while I have a problem with a lot of his ethics concerning the way he amasses his roster, he looks like a very intelligent man, who turned out to be a few years ahead of his time.  

Comedians and other performers often like to say, "always leave them wanting more."  I guess it's time to add football coaches to that list.




December 11th, 2012 at 10:53 AM ^

I don't think this is too bad, he praises his own AD and all.

However, how did this note become public? There is only one and only Long has it...weird


December 11th, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

but reading the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, it definitely looks like anything Beilema wrote to Long at his office address would be subject to disclosure, and would have to be filed and maintained with that in mind.

Really, it's no different than Tressel getting those emails from the crooked lawyer, other than a slightly different state law and email being a different medium.



December 11th, 2012 at 3:22 PM ^

Under the Federal Freedom of Information Act, the note would have to be disclosed if covered by a proper request.

Obviously such a request would be governed by Arkansas law, not Federal law, but most state laws track the Federal law in most important respects.


December 11th, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

WholeHogSports.com (LINK TO STORY)

Even as early as last week, Long alluded to the existence of such a note, according to this. The link in the OP mentions it as well, but this is another mention of that fact.

Strangely enough, the note - regardless of content - puts a few things in perspective, I would guess, regarding Bielema's state of mind regarding this move. If it was indeed September, then it was already clear that JLS was not coming back as a permanent hire (I know, shocking) and this was around the time that Bielema canned his OC in favor of Matt Canada, so there was some turmoil among the staff more than likely. Even without knowing his team was Rose Bowl bound at the time, it seems even more clear now, at least to me, that he had entertained the idea that this was possibly his last season in Madison.

Intriguing way to drop your name certainly, if that is what it is, and in a professional context (or at least, in my understanding of the odd world of coaching searches), a genuinely clever and forward-thinking one considering the overall situation in Fayetteville at that juncture.



December 11th, 2012 at 10:54 AM ^

Its clear that the note had absolutely no affect on Long's choice of Bielema for the HC job because there is no way in hell that Long could read the writing.  I mean, if you're going to send a handwritten note, at least make it legible!


December 11th, 2012 at 11:38 AM ^

A big difference between Bielema and his old boss at UW is that Bret loves to bask in being the "good guy" and does whatever he can to promote himself and his program as morally superior. Paterno would do the same thing. Bo would just do the right thing; I can't remember him ever strutting about it. Could you imagine Lloyd calling his program "the Great Experiment?"

A lot of our fans are guilty of this and I tolerate it because I've been guilty of it plenty. However the coaches who strut recently have appeared to be the ones falling the hardest.


December 11th, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

Paterno?  Really?  Can you give some examples?

I admit that the whole Jerry Sandusky case was terrible on Paterno's part, but I seem to remember that some news organization finally had to use FOIA to gain access to Paterno's salary.  Then they found out that he was only making something like $400,000 a year, which was far less than the salary that someone with his status could have commanded.

That doesn't really mesh with your take on Paterno...


December 11th, 2012 at 1:12 PM ^

I guess the point didn't come across there; it has zero to do with how much the guy is paid. The currency we're discussing is ego. What I'm saying is the purpose of own-horn tootin' in the case of Bielema et al. is to increase one's personal legacy and position oneself as a college football "good guy" program, not to get a bigger paycheck.

What I'm saying is Paterno ran (except for THAT) a very clean program but also loved to point out at every opportunity that he ran THE clean program. He's the guy who called Penn State "The Great Experiment." He wrote a self-congratulatory book he called "By the Book." He consistently held his program up as beyond reproach when he was criticized for, e.g., just making his players run stairs for criminal acts. He tooted his own horn. But then it was the same hubris that made him think he could remove Sandusky from his staff and not make his transgressions public.

Tressel is another example, although his sanctimonious self-aggrandization was 100% hypocritical.


December 11th, 2012 at 3:47 PM ^

Even so, $400,000 when other coaches are making a couple million bucks a season is a pretty good bargain for the name recognition that Paterno brought to the team.  He might not have been a great coach at the end, but that name brought in tons of money and could get his coaches into any parent/recruit's home.


December 11th, 2012 at 5:53 PM ^

PA is not that favorable for taxes and not all that favorable in terms of real estate, since most of the largest football teams are in affordable areas. 

Look at Paterno's longtime counterpart at FSU:  Tallahasee has comparably cheap Real Estate, and no state income tax (which would apply to any football coach in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and a handful of other states, most of which have multiple big time football programs). 

And the difference in real estate between Ann Arbor and State College is negligible - you're comparing two very cheap areas of the country.  The only areas of the country with noticeably higher RE are NY, SF, LA, Boston, DC, and that's about it.  And there aren't a ton of college football teams there.