Bret Bielema's Revisionist History Turns Another Page
By Tony Gerdeman
I think we all read those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books when we were kids. They were fun. They allowed us to find alternate endings to the same story and gave us a chance to experience the stories differently three or four times.
If we didn't like the fact that the main character died, we could just retrace our steps and take a new direction. It was fantastic.
It also appears that Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema was a fan of the genre as well.
Photo by Dan Harker
Remember back in February of 2012 when Bielema, as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, accused Urban Meyer of "illegal" recruiting tactics and told The Sporting News, "I can tell you this, we at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC in any way, shape or form."
Well, on Tuesday at the SEC's spring meetings, he had an explanation for that comment.
~~ If you would like Bret's explanation to be poorly concocted, please turn to Page 42 ~~
(Actually, just keep reading, there are no page numbers here.)
With the media assembled around him, Bielema explained his comments this way, "In the Big Ten we disliked the SEC because of the success they had."
And also that his statement was "about one coach and one instance", obviously inferring Meyer and his dastardly flip of offensive lineman Kyle Dodson, who was committed to Bielema at the time.
As an aside, if Bielema is free to leave Wisconsin under contract, why should he be upset when a verbal commitment who is under no such shackle chooses another school? But we digress.
While nobody actually believes his statement that it was just "about one coach and one instance", he does have quite the history of giving Ohio State the business.
There was the Big Ten Media Day in 2011, just two months after Jim Tressel resigned from OSU, when he said, "But when you consciously break an NCAA rule, to me the only way to deter that is to get rid of people, or seriously hold programs accountable. That's probably the number one thing I would love to see happen in the world of college football."
To which he quickly added, "You know what, those comments weren’t directed toward Ohio State."
Really? What else could those comments have been referring to? I'm okay with choosing your own adventure, but let's at least stick to the same book.
This is the same guy that said it was too bad that Terrelle Pryor had to leave Ohio State early because they wanted to play him in 2011 for some comments made a week after the 2010 game.
"We really wanted to play that game against him, but unfortunately we won’t," he said.
Yep, instead you'll have to play it against Braxton Miller. Keep an eye on the rollout to the right. And don't let Devin Smith get behind you.
Clearly, there is something about Ohio State that Bret Bielema doesn't like. Wait, sorry, I am mistaken. I forgot that he also said this at the 2011 Media Day, "I don't spend one day at the University of Wisconsin worrying about what's going on at Ohio State."
Seven months later he was running to his athletic director and publicly accusing – in consecutive days – Urban Meyer of illegal recruiting tactics.
Those accusations, by the way, were dismissed by both Meyer and Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez.
How did Bielema see that particular adventure ending?
"I called Urban and we spoke about it. We talked about it, and he said it would stop and it did. I’ll let our commissioner deal with anything else. That’s not who we are (in the Big Ten). We settle things among ourselves as coaches."
They settle things among themselves as coaches...by going to the media.
What really happened according to Meyer?
"Whenever you use those terms, something like 'illegal,' that couldn’t be further from the truth. That doesn’t happen here, and if it did, we would make a change with whoever did it.
"And then I saw, 'Well, we made a phone call.' There was no phone call made. I heard that there was some grumbling – I'm the one that made the phone call."
So yeah, when Bielema says that his comments about the SEC were about one coach and one instance, it's completely feasible that he was talking about Urban Meyer. After all, every path in a Choose Your Own Adventure book has to be feasible.
But let's stop living in a world of make believe for a moment.
Out of all of the inside information that a Big Ten coach is privy to, when Bielema says he doesn't want the Big Ten resembling the SEC, we are supposed to believe that Bielema was simply referring to Meyer flipping one of his recruits while both coaches were in the Big Ten?
That this wasn't a statement about the SEC, just about Meyer when he was in the SEC. As if flipping recruits was the very worst thing to happen in the SEC, and Meyer was the only one who ever did it. Come on. We're all adults here, Bret.
In the span of about 10 months, Bielema went from thinking the SEC was the devil, to picking out matching pitchforks.
As a poster on our message board put it, "It's like he's suddenly rich and talented because his daughter got knocked up by a Kennedy."
Bielema used his stage last year to take a shot at Ohio State, comparing Meyer's tactics to those found in the SEC. Now that he's in the SEC, he had to find a way out of his comments, no matter how ridiculous they sounded.
It's like when Principal Skinner showed up at the burlesque house in Springfield, but said he only stopped there to ask for directions on how to get away from there.
How much of this story are we actually supposed to believe? Fortunately, I don't think anybody believes a sniff of it. It's just one more chapter in a book that has absolutely no order.
There's no telling how this current adventure will end for Bret Bielema, but I bet he'll see it much differently than everybody else when it's over.
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