Arkansas Expats likes the hire of Bret Bielema, surprising as it was.
Catch a breath yet?
We're still going strong, both here and on Twitter, and to keep things interesting we've reached out to SB Nation's fine Arkansas blog, Arkansas Expats, to get their early take on Bret Bielema ditching Madison for Fayetteville. Again, it's early, but most Hogs fans seem to like the hire.
What'll really be interesting is the official details of Bielema's deal. Then, the initial expectations will be set, and we'll all know what bar Bielema will have to reach to justify not only Arkansas' decision, but his own to leave Wisconsin.
1. B5Q: Well, this is something. Wisconsin fans are still wrapping their head around all this, and details are still scant. Let's start with this: what has the reaction been like on the Arkansas end? Do you like the hire?
Doc Harper: Most people seem happy with it. I haven't had a chance to get on message boards yet but twitter seems mostly pleased. I think most people are just surprised because he wasn't involved in the rumors.
I like the hire. He's won a lot. He has quality linemen. He understands what it's like to basically own the state. I think when you look at people Arkansas realistically could have gotten, this is a fantastic resume.
2. B5Q: We heard some rumblings of Arkansas' interest in Bielema within the past week or so, but they seemed fairly insignificant. How much of this is a surprise on your end?
Doc: It's a huge surprise. We kept a weekly tracker of names that were frequently mentioned in connection with Arkansas. It grew to about 30 names but we never even thought of adding Bielema. This is completely out of left field.
3. B5Q: How attractive do you think the Arkansas job is?
Doc: That's been a hot topic of debate. Yeah, the SEC West is tough but our last two full time hires have been a sitting NFL coach and a sitting 3-time Rose Bowl coach, so coaches must like something about us.
4. B5Q: With this hire, what will the expectations be for Arkansas next season?
Doc: That's a great question. I don't know. I need to do some research on Bielema to figure that out. We have some good offensive players, but our defense is really thin. Who knows how any of them will adapt to a new system. And we don't have a clue how our recruiting class will go. After the year we just had and knowing the players we're losing, I'll be happy just to get to a bowl.
And Arkansas' schedule next year is brutal.
5. B5Q: Any suggestions for Bielema's replacement?
Doc: I understand Bobby Petrino and John L Smith are available. But honestly I don't know enough about the Wisconsin program to know who'd be a good fit. You guys are free to take over our head coach tracker if you like.