Student meets teacher: Bielema meets Snyder in Liberty Bowl

Student meets teacher: Bielema meets Snyder in Liberty Bowl


Student meets teacher: Bielema meets Snyder in Liberty Bowl


Arkansas’ Dan Skipper (70), Alex Collins (3) and Marcus Danenhauer (59) push the Battle Line trophy off the field after a recent game against Missouri in Fayetteville.

Arkansas’ Dan Skipper (70), Alex Collins (3) and Marcus Danenhauer (59) push the Battle Line trophy off the field after a recent game against Missouri in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — After officially learning Sunday night their Razorbacks and Wildcats teams will meet in the Jan. 2 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Kansas State coach Bill Snyder met in New York as admiring protege and Hall of Famer.

Snyder — for whom Bielema left his alma mater coaching linebackers at Iowa to become Snyder’s K-State defensive coordinator in 2002 and 2003 — is being inducted Tuesday night in New York into the College Hall of Fame, with Bielema among those attending.

“He was the first guy to give me a coordinator title and first guy to give me a lot of money for coaching,” Bielema said on the Liberty Bowl teleconference before conducting an in-person press conference for Arkansas media Sunday night. “The day I left him (to become defensive coordinator and later head coach at Wisconsin) was a sad one. I called Coach Snyder earlier in this year when we were struggling. He gave me some advice. I can’t say enough about him.”

Snyder quipped about the prospect of meeting his burly former coordinator in New York: “It is a great thing to have Bret up here, he’s so big I don’t want him to give me a big hug. I am 112 years old and a little fragile.”

Snyder, who coached at Kansas State from 1988-2005 as the most successful K-State coach ever, retired and then un-retired in 2009 to be successful there again, hasn’t declared if he’ll continue coaching beyond the 6-6 Wildcats’ game with the 7-5 Razorbacks.

“ I don’t want to comment on that … Bielema, said, his voice breaking. If this is last one, that would be pretty cool. He’s a guy that for two years trained me. I was a long, long ways from home. So, he gave me a lot of advice on things other than football, so that was pretty cool.”

Michael Smith, Arkansas’ receivers coach since Bielema’s 2013 first season, played for Snyder at Kansas State and was hired by Bielema off Snyder’s staff.

Is Smith excited?

“Yeah, in the same way I am,” Bielema said, chuckling “We are both scared, too. We are scared of that man. He has a way of inflicting that on you. Of all the coaches that I hired when I came here, the phone call that I dreaded the most was the phone call from coach Snyder to get permission to bring Michael with me. He proceeded to let me have it pretty good. I weathered the storm and at least got the chance to talk to him and then Michael had to make a decision from there.”

Presently, Bielema is most concerned about offensive coordinator Dan Enos, the subject of much rumored interest for coaching jobs, including from new Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who requested Bielema’s permission to talk to Enos about the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator’s job.

“Kirby called me early this morning, asked me for permission to talk to Dan,” Bielema said Sunday night. “I just basically said .. I understand if you’ve got to talk to Dan, if that’s something you want to do, but he’s got a non-compete clause in the SEC. So that kind of null and voids those things from really becoming real within our conference.”

Asked if that would end Smart’s pursuit, Bielema said, “I don’t know where that goes from there.”.

Bielema said over his initial objections which he ye says he is now glad weren’t upheld, that Athletic Director Jeff Long installed SEC no-compete clauses in the contracts of all of the football assistants.

Enos was on the job in Fayetteville all weekend as Bielema conducted closed practices Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Bielema said the Friday and Saturday practices were mainly a developmental practice for the redshirts younger players and that the whole team worked Sunday.

Of the 17 bowl practices he has scheduled, Bielema said the first nine will be “Arkansas on Arkansas” and the last nine devoted to game prep for Kansas State.

Arkansas, 7-5, has the better record than the 6-6 Wildcats, but K-State comes off consecutive Big 12 victories over Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia.

“You’ll see a great team from Kansas State,” Bielema said. “Coach Snyder is relentless in his attitude toward bowl games. Another opportunity to win. I’ve been there. I’ve seen what those guys go through, so we’ll get their best shot.”

Snyder and K-State have played against Arkansas before in Bobby Petrino’s last game as Arkansas’ coach. On Jan. 7, 2012, Petrino’s 2011 Razorbacks finished their 11-2 season defeating Kansas State 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl.

Receivers Dominique Reed, Drew Morgan and running back Kody Walker, banged up during the 28-3 SEC victory over Missouri closing Arkansas’ regular season on Nov. 27 in Fayetteville, did not practice over the weekend.

Reed, the junior from Camden Fairview, appeared the most seriously injured with an ankle sprain but Bielema said, “Dominique is cleared. He’s fine. He had a high ankle sprain that wasn’t severe. It was gimping him a little but he’s fine.”

Apparently Morgan deemed himself fit Sunday but the coaches and training staff opted to wait awhile.

“Drew was angry because he wasn’t allowed to practice today.” Bielema said. “We also kept Kody Walker out. He got banged out. Nothing prohibitive. Just thought it would be good to get him rest.”


More USA TODAY High School Sports