The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 20, 2013

Pressure’s on for new SEC skippers

HOOVER, Ala. — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn spent part of his first turn at Southeastern Conference media days calling concerns about the hurry-up offense causing more injuries “a joke.”

A few hours later, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema delivered a rebuttal. He’s not a comedian, he said. He just wants “normal American football.”

The coaching churn was heavy in the SEC during the offseason and now four new faces make their debut this fall. Bielema, Malzahn, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Tennessee’s Butch Jones inherit vastly different circumstances at their respective schools and have different styles, but all will be judged by the same stark standard: wins and losses in the cutthroat conference.

The SEC is the land of big egos, big stadiums and even bigger football budgets, and the four coaches — who have agreed to contracts worth about a combined $60 million — have quickly tried to mark their territory.

The Bielema vs. Malzahn dustup was a good example. Those two teams will meet on Nov. 2.

Bielema, 43, might be the SEC’s most intriguing hire. The Razorbacks pried him away from Wisconsin after a successful seven-year run with the Badgers.

His power offense is almost a complete 180 from former coach Bobby Petrino’s air-it-out philosophy and he has virtually no experience recruiting in the areas that are normally fertile for the Razorbacks, like Texas and Oklahoma.

But as his passionate display at media days showed, Bielema will not be intimidated.

“This team has all the ingredients as a head coach that can make teams win,” Bielema said. “I haven’t been through an SEC schedule, through the stadiums, I haven’t been through an away game schedule quite like the one we face. I do know this: We have a team that’s very hungry, a group of coaches that are very gifted, we have a staff that is very talented and a lot of years to back that up.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • NASCAR Brickyard 400 Auto Racing Jeff Gordon wins at Indianapolis for record fifth time

    INDIANAPOLIS — With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again. Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight ...

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to Tour victory

    PARIS — Vincenzo Nibali put his lungs and legs to work one last time, marching up to the winner’s podium of the Tour de France and sighing deeply before the Italian anthem echoed over the Champs-Elysees....

    July 28, 2014

  • Scott says he will coach Lakers

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they’re apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days....

    July 28, 2014

  • BoSox snap Rays’ streak

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz hit a three-run homer, and the Boston Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 3-2 Sunday to end a five-game losing streak and stop the Rays’ longest winning streak in 10 years at nine games....

    July 28, 2014

  • The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline Hall of Fame class

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy. Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats....

    July 28, 2014

  • Telling The Boss, sorry

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Before he answered a question at the press conference following the Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony on Sunday, Joe Torre wanted to address someone he regrettably omitted from his speech....

    July 28, 2014

  • Wainwright bounces back to beat Cubs

    CHICAGO — When St. Louis Cardinals Mike Matheny visited the mound with two out and two on in the seventh inning on Sunday, he had no idea whether he was going to replace starter Adam Wainwright....

    July 28, 2014

  • A’s rout Rangers

    ARLINGTON, Texas — John Jaso drove in three runs, helping Scott Kazmir and the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-3 Sunday night....

    July 28, 2014

  • Clark rallies in Montreal

    MONTREAL — Tim Clark rallied to win the Canadian Open on Sunday, birdieing five of the last eight holes for a one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk....

    July 28, 2014

  • Isner wins another Atlanta final

    ATLANTA — Top-seeded John Isner overpowered Dudi Sela on Sunday to successfully defend his Atlanta Open title, blowing serve after serve past the 5-foot-9 Israeli player in a 6-3, 6-4 victory....

    July 28, 2014