Bielema Says Hogs to Earn Success a Play at a Time

SPRINGDALE-University of Arkansas Director of Athletics Jeff Long got choked up more than once at Friday's Razorback Football Kickoff Luncheon trying to explain the closeness of his relationship with head coach Brett Bielema.

"Bret, you've made-I'm going to get choked up again-excuse me. You've made football, being around the football program fun again. So thank you for that. Go Hogs," Long said in front of a sellout crowd at the Springdale Convention Center.

There were some lighter moments as well as each Razorback player was introduced to the crowd by one of his teammates.

Junior tight end Alex Voelzke struggled to acknowledge a hard hitting member of the defense, telling fans, "As you can see I lost my voice throughout camp. I'm introducing Martrell Spaight. He plays linebacker for us."

Spaight then strolled onto the stage and in a perfect imitation of his raspy-voiced teammate said, "Thank you Voelzke."

Later true freshman center Frank Ragnow brought on senior offensive tackle and team captain Brey Cook by telling the crowd, "Today I have the honor to introduce Brey Cook from Springdale, Arkansas. Take it easy on him 'cause he's a little shy. He's got a beard 'cause he's scared he looks like a little twelve year old without it."

Cook then took the podium and deadpanned, "Thank you freshman."

When emcee Chuck Barrett noted that head coach Bret Bielema was "among the leaders in winning percentage for active college coaches," Bielema joked, "Thank you Chuck. I'm excited that I'm number fifteen in the country but what a difference a year makes. Last year I was number four. So we've got some corrections to make."

The audience clapped in approval.

On a more serious note Bielema told the crowd, "The core values of what these guys are, the way they work, their mentality off the field, the way they give to their community, the way they help each other out, we're building something that I hope to get to that plateau sooner than later."

Bielema concluded his remarks by saying, "Next Saturday we've got the whole world to show what we're about. We will earn everything that we will get, play by play, negative or poor, positive or great, it doesn't matter. We will earn it on a daily basis, play by play."

The players were set to go through a game-like dress rehearsal of the season opener Friday afternoon. Bielema promised that if they did things right they would get Saturday off, their first since August Camp began almost three weeks earlier.


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