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story.lead_photo.caption Alabama coach Nick Saban yells to an official during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) - Photo by Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE -- An Alabama sportswriter annoyed Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema and perhaps other coaches during last Wednesday's SEC Coaches/Media teleconference.

Persistently he inquired about Alabama superiority and if the rest of the SEC beached awash in the back flow of the powerful Crimson Tide.

Since Bielema's University of Arkansas, Fayetteville team was playing at South Carolina last Saturday, he obviously was more concerned discussing his Razorbacks and the Gamecocks than touting the Tide.

"Well, doesn't much surprise me with anything about Alabama," Bielema said. "Alabama is a really, really good football team. But when you are in this world you really don't look beyond anything than what's in front of you."

"Do you sense a gap forming between Alabama and the rest of the SEC?," the writer persisted.

"Alabama has been good before I got here and while I've been here and they are a good football team that wins national championships," Bielema replied. "I don't know if I can answer your question any better than that."

An appropriate answer then. Still is. Though had he a shadow of an inkling that his 2-point favored Razorbacks would be clawed 48-22 by the Gamecocks last Saturday in Columbia, S.C., Bielema last Wednesday might have readily discussed nothing but the now 6-0, top-ranked Crimson Tide.

He'll certainly talk about Alabama this week. Alabama hosts Arkansas in Saturday's SEC West game in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

For Arkansas the timing is hauntingly reminiscent of September 2012 and the events bringing Bielema to Arkansas from Wisconsin that December.

The 30-point favored nationally No. 8 Razorbacks under interim Coach John L. Smith had just ignominiously lost 34-31 in overtime to Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock when Alabama annihilated Arkansas, 52-0 in Fayetteville prompting a 4-8 season.

Popular, and steadily improving the Hogs on the field and off after inheriting disaster in 2013, Bielema's Arkansas star started falling upon Arkansas closing 2016 losing large halftime leads in losses to Missouri and Virginia Tech.

It doesn't rise upon this 2-3 start, 0-2 in the SEC with No. 1 Alabama and No. 10 Auburn looming next.

Bielema's hot seat appears possibly big enough for two. Especially if Nebraska this season sets a trend. Instead of firing the struggling football coach, Nebraska recently fired the athletic director that hired the coach.

The $15 million buyout Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long installed on Bielema's contract helps Bielema's security short term but prompts some questioning Long's judgment implementing the buyout.

"A bad business model," Barry Alvarez, the athletic director when Bielema coached Wisconsin, said Sept. 26 in general of trendy, big buyouts while addressing the Little Rock Touchdown Club. Recently deceased Hall of Fame Athletic Director Frank Broyles at Arkansas and still Wisconsin AD Alvarez number among the last of a now rare breed of head coaches become athletic directors. They become increasingly replaced by businessmen in suits.

Well, seems some who succeeded playing and coaching athletics on a high level know its business, too.

Sports on 10/09/2017

Print Headline: Alabama looms for Arkansas

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