In part one of a three-part exclusive interview Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema talks about changing the culture of the Razorback program off the field, holding every player accountable for his actions.
Q: Before you got here Arkansas wasn't necessarily known as trouble makers but they were in trouble often. What have you done to help clean up the program?
A: I wanted them to understand they needed to do one thing, needed to care more about themselves and the image they're creating. There are things we talk about every day that make you value what it is not when you're in the room but when you're out of the room. Our guys have bought into it. Obviously we've had to reinforce some things through different methods but our kids carry a different pride that they're not just carrying themselves and not just the razorbacks but represent the state on a daily basis.
Q: You talk to your players on a daily basis about doing the right thing and you've taken some guys out of your program for a week, for a month at a time but obviously you've got your foot on the pulse of the program.
A: I would say as a head coach I mention it at least two or three times a week but that first year it was a daily reminder. Even if it was a negative headline with other programs, I would just shoot it too them and say don't let this be you. Before we went on spring break we had a 6 a.m. run. I brought them in and went through ESPN’s top 10 stories of the day that morning and seven of them were negative about college football. I just brought that to light because it's all around you.
Q: It's changed because of social media. How much have you changed your coaching style and coaching philosophy because you do more than coach football players, you raise men. How much has that changed how you operate things?
A: Social media is a great thing if it's used properly. Don't ever put something out there that you wouldn't want your grandmother, your mother, sister, your preacher to read or see. As head coaches, we monitor it all the time in recruiting. I can't tell you how many kids we may take off our recruit sheet because of the manner in which they handle their social media. I learned a great quote from Joe Paterno that always compared the internet or bloggers as the internet mafia, people who had no accountability. They can say, do and write anything they want because there are no rules against it.
Part two will air Friday (April 24) on 5NEWS at 10pm.