Ex­pect new dad Bielema to be talk of event

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - WALLY HALL

Shortly af­ter lunch Mon­day, Com­mis­sioner Greg Sankey will kick off the SEC foot­ball me­dia days in Hoover, Ala.

All of the as­sem­bled re­porters — about half the num­ber that will at­tend Wed­nes­day’s ses­sion when Alabama’s Nick Sa­ban thanks the me­dia for be­ing there and al­most sounds like he means it — will lis­ten to ev­ery word.

But many of the re­porters will be think­ing about Bret Bielema, who likely will make his sched­uled ap­point­ment Mon­day.

His wife, Jen, had their first child early Satur­day morn­ing. The wife and baby, just as they should, come first.

Ac­cord­ing to the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville, there are no planned changes to Bielema’s sched­ule, but if he did skip, who could blame him af­ter the ar­rival of his baby girl?

Bielema — who is sup­posed to be shad­owed by an SEC Net­work re­porter from the time he steps on the plane with play­ers Austin Allen, Frank Rag­now and Kevin Richard­son un­til the Hog hoopla ends late in the af­ter­noon — will most likely have the Ra­zor­back Foun­da­tion

jet on standby while he goes through the rounds with news­pa­pers, ra­dio and TV re­porters if he at­tends, and if he does he’ll win the Mon­day news con­fer­ences.

Partly be­cause he’s gen­er­ally pretty witty but also be­cause the other two coaches sched­uled for Mon­day are not ex­actly quote ma­chines.

LSU’s new head Coach Ed Org­eron is ex­tremely direct, which can be en­ter­tain­ing, but of­ten­times his state­ments can lose some­thing in trans­la­tion. Org­eron, with his wildly south­ern Louisiana ac­cent, could use a trans­la­tor at times.

Ten­nessee Coach Butch Jones’ quotes are pre­dictable and bor­ing.

So hands down, Bielema will be the lead story if he makes it to the meet­ings.

He would join Van­der­bilt Coach Derek Ma­son, Sa­ban (Wed­nes­day will be noth­ing like a Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump news con­fer­ence) and

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze as the daily win­ners of the news con­fer­ences.

On Tues­day, mostly each coach’s home­town me­dia will be in­ter­ested in Florida’s Jim McEl­wain, Ge­or­gia’s Kirby Smart and Mis­sis­sippi State’s Dan Mullen. All three are ver­bally cau­tious to the point you some­times won­der whether they are go­ing to take a breath while on the podium.

Be­sides Sa­ban, Wed­nes­day’s card has Ken­tucky’s Mark Stoops, Mis­souri’s Barry Odom and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sum­lin. Stoops is a Stoops; Odom, like ev­ery­one at Mis­souri, is scared to say any­thing lest it be taken out of con­text; and Sum­lin just doesn’t seem to like the me­dia, or any­one else for that mat­ter.

Thurs­day has Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who’s been a care­ful talker since he was the head foot­ball coach at Hughes High School; South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, who could stand to bring a lit­tle of his side­line pas­sion to the news con­fer­ence; and Freeze.

Freeze and oth­ers at Ole Miss have had a lot of ex­plain­ing to do, and the head coach shouldn’t miss this op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther in­dict oth­ers in an ef­fort to main­tain his in­no­cence.

There will be foot­ball news, and it will be re­ported with zeal.

It won’t be re­leased un­til Fri­day, but ex­pect the me­dia to pick Ge­or­gia to win the Least Divi­sion, and Alabama to win the West and the SEC cham­pi­onship.

It won’t be unan­i­mous for the Crim­son Tide. Teams like Ge­or­gia and Florida will get a few ge­o­graph­i­cal votes — and there will be a few homers in the crowd (al­ways is among the 1,000 me­dia who are ex­pected) who’ll re­main true to their school — but the bot­tom line is foot­ball starts Mon­day and Bret Bielema is a new dad.

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