Former Razorback head coach Bret Bielema has been a busy man these last few months.
On Sunday, he led helped coach the Giants defense to stymie to his former quarterback Brandon Allen’s debut for Cincinnati in a 19-17 New York win. On Twitter, he’s been active, retweeting out reminders of when he was a highly desired college football coaching prospect and throwing out a #WPS before the LSU-Arkansas game as he took a stroll down memory lane:
Calling the Hogs here is a tad bit rich.
Since while Bret Bielema’s been tooting the #WPS horn hard with one hand, he’s been suing the Razorback Foundation with the other.
Bielema and his lawyer Tom Mars believe that the Razorbacks owe him $7 million after the foundation stopped making buyout payments to him in January 2019. Yes, Arkansas originally owed Bielema a sum of $12 million after firing him following the 2017 season, but that was contingent on Bielema making “reasonable efforts to find employment that would mitigate or offset” the remaining buyout money owed to the coach.
Bielema was then hired as a consultant with the Patriots for $125,000 per year, which was less than the minimum amount to trigger a buyout reduction. He’s now an outside linebackers coach with the New York Giants, where his salary is unknown.
The lawsuit, which also ropes in Bill Belichick, centers on the question of whether Bielema worked any harder in the two years after he was fired from Arkansas than he did in the two years before he was fired, when the Razorbacks slid from a respectable SEC program to a cellar-dweller that barely escaped losing to Coastal Carolina (before Coastal Carolina was really good) at home.
There is some evidence Bielema has actually taken a break from his litigation to interview for the kind of head coaching job in college that would offset his buyout, even though his market value had taken a significant hit since his Wisconsin days.
According to subpoenaed documents referenced in NJ.com, Bielema was a finalist for Rutgers’ head coaching job and interviewed with Scarlet Knights’ athletics director Pat Hobbs before the program decided to go with Greg Schiano instead.
Is Bielema Returning to the South?
More recent reports have linked Bielema to the opening at Southern Miss, where former NFL great Brett Favre played. The below comes courtesy of Steven Godfrey, a writer for the Banner Society:
After moving from Wisconsin HC to Arkansas HC to NFL assistant to maybe possibly Southern Miss HC, Bret Bielema is our first case study on whether the Lane Kiffin Approach™️ to the coaching ladder is scalable https://t.co/Hduy8Wjkxu— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 30, 2020
Heading to a Conference USA mid-major program after previously being an SEC head coach and NFL coach is a path not often taken, except by Lane Kiffin. Kiffin, who spent a few years at Florida Atlantic, did eventually re-land an SEC head coaching job and it would be fascinating to see if Bielema could do the same.
Bielema’s salary at Southern Miss will likely approach six figure, even though its previous coach Jay Hopson earned a base salary of $500,000 a year (with up to $850,000 in bonuses). However, given Lane Kiffin earned $1.431 million a year at Florida Atlantic and former North Carolina head coach Butch Davis (also a former Razorback) earned over $990,000 at FIU, it’s safe to assume Bielema would command a salary near a million dollars, which is the max that Southern Miss’ AD Larry McClain has said he’s willing to pay.
Bielema getting that job would surely help pay for the litigation fees that will build up in the coming months or years as he keeps going after the Razorback Foundation.
But is Bielema really a top candidate at Southern Miss?
No he isn’t, according to a Southern Miss beat reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald.
“From what I’ve heard on the ground in Mississippi, Bielema isn’t currently considered a top candidate for the USM job,” Patrick McGee wrote today. “The reporting of Bielema as being in the running for the job instantly created chatter among the Southern Miss faithful, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll go further than that.”
Even with Bielema isn’t the top contender, there may be other candidates with Arkansas ties. McGee listed Rhett Lashlee, the Arkansas native who is now offensive coordinator at Miami, as well as A-State’s head coach Blake Anderson.
But he added: “Anderson, who was Larry Fedora’s offensive coordinator at Southern Miss, also seems to be a difficult hire for McClain considering Arkansas State would be owed $800,000 if he leaves for another head coaching job.”
It makes sense that Southern Miss would not have Bielema as his top candidate, considering Bielema is suing his previous employer at the college level. The twists and turns of his legal saga, which includes a countersuit by the Razorback Foundation, are sure to go on for many more months.
For more on the lawsuit , see this:
The fans of whatever college program gets Bielema next should hope he no longer craves being the subject of his own documentary series:
The below article about Brandon Allen was originally published on July 29, 2020:
Brandon Allen Chosen to Speed Joe Burrow’s Rise to Superstardom
This past NFL season, former Hogs quarterback Brandon Allen finally got off the sideline and broke into game action, throwing for 515 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
For a brief, shining moment, the Fayetteville native was a starting quarterback. Although Allen ended up losing two out of the three games as a starter, he still showed enough that he could be a long-time backup quarterback in the NFL at a minimum.
Today, we see that potential begin to bear out with reports from national media that the Cincinnati Bengals will sign Allen over the weekend after he passes a physical and COVID-19 examination.
Allen’s most important job for the Bengals will be to help guide Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft who put together the greatest season by a quarterback in college football history by throwing 60 touchdowns and leading LSU to an undefeated season and national title.
It was announced this week that Burrow has signed a four-year, $36 million contract. The Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor said he’ll likely start: “We’re going to put a lot on Joe right out of the gate,” Taylor said today. “Obviously we have weeks to sort out who’s starting and all that good stuff, but Joe’s going to walk in and take the first snaps at quarterback. He’s prepared for that.”
He’ll be even more prepared with Allen by his side, though.
Before Allen played for the Broncos, he spent two years with the Los Angeles Rams alongside Taylor. In 2018, before he was hired by Cincinnati, Taylor served as the Rams’ quarterback coach. He helped develop Jared Goff into a star who led L.A. to the Super Bowl.
Allen knows Taylor’s system inside and out and should be like a second coach for Burrow, as NFL reporter Tom Pelissero insinuates here:
Veteran QB Brandon Allen is in Cincinnati for a physical and COVID-19 testing and expected to sign with the #Bengals this weekend, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 29, 2020
Allen knows Zac Taylor’s offense from #Rams days and started 3 games for #Broncos in 2019. Some experience behind No. 1 pick Joe Burrow.
A large number of NFL fans replied to this Tweet wondering who Brandon Allen actually was.
This doubt, and even outright spite, is something Allen dealt with on message boards, social media and talk sports radio in the first part of his Razorback career when his teams lost more than they won.
It got so bad that at on two separate occasions his truck was egged and set on fire.
Years later, in a “Hog Pod” interview, Brandon said the arson didn’t faze him. “If you’re going on the highs and lows of everything, then you’re going to be a mess. As soon as things go bad, you’re going to feel that criticism, you’re going to let it affect you, and then things are going to be worse after that,” he said.
He continued: “Any time there’s criticism I’ve always been good about not letting it affect me or get to me or anything, because people do write some horrible things,” Allen told Bo Mattingly. “But I’ve always been good about taking negative comments and letting it fall off my back and not being a big deal.”
“I don’t know if it even makes me mad, I think I feel bad for the people that waste their time writing those [message board] comments. That’s the best thing they did all day was write something horrible to a 20 year-old kid playing football. Your life is worse than mine, I’ll tell you that, if that’s how you see it. So I just always thought they got nothing better going on in their life than to write negative things to kids.”
So what actually does get Allen throwing things at the TV?
Turns out, it’s when he watched his little brother Austin Allen get criticized as the Hogs quarterback.
“I think that was harder for me than me going through it. Because you would see things written about your brother, and that would make me mad. Anytime people would talk about others in my family, that’s what makes me mad. Talk about me all you want, that’s fine. I can handle it, anyone else, no. That’s where it makes me angry.”
In the end, Allen’s steady approach won out. He’s at or near the top of many passing records in the UA annals.
Now his job is to help the potential superstar Joe Burrow start climbing NFL record books.
Brandon Allen’s Razorback highlights:
Brandon Allen Helps Mercy Workers Battle COVID-19
Originally published April 18, 2020
Football is so popular in the U.S. that every single one of the 20 passes Allen threw in his first NFL start were analyzed by one homebound pundit:
By contrast, the healthcare workers who have poured their hearts and souls into their jobs for decades rarely get widespread attention.
In the throes of a coronavirus pandemic that has already cost the lives of nearly 160,000 people worldwide, however, that’s changing. Americans are showing appreciation for doctors, nurses and techs like never before.
Count Brandon Allen among them.
On Friday, Allen teamed up with CJ’s Butcher Boy Burgers to donate 100 meals — 15 salads and 85 BLT’s — to feed health care workers at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas.
The 27-year-old Fayetteville native told KNWA reporters he was fortunate to connect with Keith Wilson, owner of CJ’s, and give back to the community.
Allen’s celebrity, of course, helped shine a spotlight on the amazing jobs that healthcare employees have done in the face of the merciless, vaccine-less COVID-19 disease. More than 2,600 people liked his post about this on Instagram.
Overcoming this crisis is an “all hands on deck” effort, after all. Bravo not only to Keith Wilson and Brandon Allen, but also to the Brightwater NWA Medical Meals Fund (aiming to prepare 100 nutritious meals a day) and ImpactNWA.org, among others, for stepping up in this time of need.
Former Hogs Ballboy Brandon Allen Gets His First NFL Start
October 30, 2019
As a quarterback for the Razorbacks in the late 1990s, Clint Stoerner remembers a small, local child always on the sidelines. At the time, young Brandon Allen served as one of the team’s ballboys.
Years later, Allen, the son of longtime Hogs assistant Bobby Allen, would grow into a prolific Hogs quarterback himself. Four years ago, Brandon Allen entered the NFL. This Sunday he will enjoy the greatest moment of his career so far: a starting gig.
In the wake of an injury to starting Denver quarterback’s Joe Flacco, Allen will take the field against Cleveland on Sunday. He will be Denver’s sixth starting quarterback since 2017.
Allen brings two years’ worth of experience in vaunted Los Angeles Rams’ offense to this job. “It’s a similar scheme, in terms of the play-action, rollout work in the passing game and work under center and the shotgun,” writes Jeff Legwold of ESPN. “As Flacco’s backup since the start of the regular season, he has received a smattering of plays with the starting offense.”
Allen says: “[I’m] very comfortable, it’s a very a similar offense from where I came from, even when I first got here I was fairly comfortable,’’ Allen said. “Here and there every week there’s a couple plays they give me just to be able to get in with the first O.’’
Stoerner this week said that if Allen plays well in this opportunity, “at the very least he will be a 10-year starter in the league and his kids will never have to work if they don’t want to.”
He added: “It’s fun to watch him… I’ve got a special relationship with him and his family so it’s super cool to see it. You talk about a life-changing opportunity.”
“You don’t have to play great. Just don’t do what I did [as an NFL starter]. Don’t have a great first half and then throw four interceptions in the second half and get benched.
Just throw a good completion percentage. Don’t turn it over a bunch of times, and you’ll have that backup job and make ya a couple of million dollars a year. I mean, Teddy Bridgewater’s making $7 million this year in New Orleans.”
“He’s a very, very confident player. He’s got some limitations talent-wise, but he’s very capable of making every single throw. He’s mature beyond his year his ears because Dan Enos coached him for two or three years at Arkansas. He’s ready.”
Here’s more from Brandon Allen’s dad:
Brandon Allen Talks Going to the Super Bowl, Becoming a Coach
[The below published on January 23, 2019]
Brandon Allen was a record-setting quarterback for the Razorbacks, but hasn’t yet thrown a pass in a regular season NFL game. Still, the fact he’s still in the League at all after three seasons is no small fries.
On top of that, he’s a backup for one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Jared Goff. Goff will lead the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams into the Super Bowl against the Patriots, who feature Tom Brady and four former Razorbacks players.
Brandon Allen recently spoke about life as a Rams quarterback on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. Below are some excerpts:
On LA Rams head coach Sean McVay:
Brandon Allen: “He’s very innovative. He knows football, he knows it so well he’s able to diagnose defenses, game plan and calls schemes that are going to give our offense the best chance to be successful.”
“Obviously, he’s the best at doing it right now.”
On his role on the team as a backup quarterback:
Brandon Allen: “A lot of the practice and walk through reps and all that are to give a look for our defense. The majority of my time is spent trying to emulate whatever opponent we’re going against. I’m always … preparing like you’re gonna play.
Jared [Goff] can come to us and if he has any questions because we’re in tune with the game plan. We can give insight if he needs it. Maybe we see something that he hasn’t seen yet….
Game day, I’m the clip board guy on the sidelines. So I’m always there writing down the plays, writing down the defenses and what they’re doing.”
On the positives of being a journeyman quarterback:
Brandon Allen: “It really is unbelievable. If you’re gonna be in a spot that I’m in, this is the best spot to be. You can learn from one of the greatest offensive minds and you get a whole new perspective of offense and defense.
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to sit and learn from [Sean McVay] and this offense….”
On whether he sees himself as a coach in the future:
Brandon Allen: “I’ve thought about it. I want to make the NFL last as long as I can, but when that chapter comes it’s definitely something I want to think about. It’s almost like I’ve been preparing for it my whole life in a sense….”
[Here Allen is referring to the football family in which he grew up. His younger brother, Austin Allen, followed in his footsteps a star quarterback at Fayetteville High and at the University of Arkansas. Their father, Bobby Allen, has been a coach or staff member in the Razorback football program for more than two decades. Bobby Allen currently serves as Director of High School and NFL Relations.]
On whether he’s talked to former teammates on the Patriots and his college coach Bret Bielema:
“I’ve talked to a few of them, I’ve talked to Coach B. I think there’s five of the Arkansas guys going to the Super Bowl. It’s pretty impressive. It’s gonna be fun to see those guys again, it’s been awhile.”
“I’m kinda hoping Deatrich [Wise] and Trey Flowers kinda take it easy on us a little bit.”
Make sure to listen to the interview in its entirety below. It starts at the 21:50 mark:
And read more about Bret Bielema’s role on the Patriots, as well as his insight into his last day as Arkansas’ coach, below. Current Razorback Grayson Gunter is pictured to the right: