Well it’s Arkansas week for Auburn and I guess I was naive to think with Bret Bilema in the equation that we could get through this week without any controversy. Now just days before the showdown between the SEC west foes, Bilema is at it again.
The Razorback Coach leveled charges publically yesterday insinuating that Auburn has been less than honest with the game tapes they are required to provide to the Razorbacks. He says the game film that Auburn sent was not the same as what was shown on television.
For some strange reason, Bielema seems to have a problem with Auburn or is it with Gus Malzahn? Shortly after coming to Fayetteville, he fired off a verbal attack on the Hurry- Up-No-Huddle Offense in the SEC’s spring meeting. Of course he isn’t the sole coach to have questions about the fast paced offense. But what made his particular objections note worthy is that Bielema is on the NCAA’s Playing Rules Committee.
During June he submitted a proposal to the NCAA to change the rules to give the defense 15-second substitution periods after each first down – even if the offense doesn’t substitute.
Then came the July SEC Media Days and since Malzahn wrote the book on the Hurry-Up-No-Huddle Offense, it was only natural that the press wanted his reaction to the proposal. When Gus was asked what he thought about a rule change, he said he couldn’t believe it. In fact his response was ,”To tell you the truth, when I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke.” Bielema fired back in his time at the podium with, “I’m not a comedian.”
Whether the charge of Auburn submitting incomplete tapes is true or false, Bielema broke SEC rules in going public with his complaints. The league rules say that if coaches question the validity of game film provided by opponents, they must report their issues to the SEC and must not share them with the public. But it seems that the man on the NCAA rules committee has no problem breaking rules.
By the way, the play that he says was left out (a two point conversion alignment) has been used in every Auburn game this season. So his complaint really is of no significance.
For his part, Gus Malzahn issued the following statement:
“We’ll always operate with the utmost integrity in everything we do. If there’s ever anything I don’t know about that’s brought to my attention, we’ll deal with it in a prompt manner. The SEC office was aware of all the details on both sides.”
To this writer, it appears that Bielema may be intimidated by Gus Malzahn. Could it be that Malzahn, who was a walk on player at Arkansas and later served as the Razorbacks Offensive Coordinator makes Bilema feel uncomfortable. Or maybe he is jealous of the high regard in which Malzahn is held by many of the state’s high school coaches? Gus is a high school coaching legend in the state and it’s those coaches’ players that he has to compete for with Gus.
Controversy just seems to follow him. When he was embroiled in a feud in the Big 10 for publically leveling charges against Ohio State he was quoted as saying, “Recruiting … is the lifeline of your program and a lot of times that’s where feelings get very emotional.”
Whatever the reason, Bilema has made it abundantly clear that defeating Malzahn’s Auburn Tigers has been a top priority since he arrived in Fayetteville. He said last week his team didn’t just start preparing to face the Tigers during their bye week but actually began working on the Auburn game during spring practice.
That preparation has included everything from normal game prep to trying to change the rules to slow down the Auburn attack to publicaly airing complaints that Auburn may have not been forthcoming with game film.
To be fair, Bielema did seem to be conciliatory when he said, “I know Gus to answer everything that’s right, and (he has) great faith in doing things right, so I’m sure it’s just a glitch they’ll get to the bottom of.”
However, if that’s so, I have one question … Why didn’t Bielema just notify the league’s office? Better yet if he has faith that Gus wants to do things right, why didn’t he just pick up the phone and say, “Hey Gus, we need more game film?” It seems when it comes to Auburn and Gus Malzahn, that whining and creating controversy is the preferred option, because Bilema is at it again.
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