1. Report: Long Expected To Be On Playoff Committee
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long is expected to represent the Southeastern Conference on the College Football Playoff selection committee, according to The Associated Press.
The report cited a person with knowledge of the process and indicated Long is expected to join Southern Cal AD Pat Haden (Pac-12) and Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich (ACC). The committee will pick the four teams playing for the national championship when the playoff begins in 2014.
CBSSports.com also reported Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez (Big Ten) and West Virginia AD Oliver Luck (Big 12) were expected to be on the committee. The committee, which is being put together by the conference commissioners, is expected to include between 12 and 18 members when completed.
Long was unavailable for comment Thursday night. But Arkansas coach Bret Bielema called it a “big compliment” if Long is part of the committee.
“Obviously, Jeff, his career, I don’t need to brag on it,” Bielema said. “You know what he’s done and what he’s been able to accomplish. I think that’s a big compliment to him, if it does end up being true.
“I heard another rumor I might know another guy on the committee as well. I’ve worked for two good guys that hopefully can help the Razorbacks in the future. “
He was referring to Alvarez, who tabbed Bielema as his successor at Wisconsin in 2006. The relationship between the two became strained last December, when Bielema left the Badgers to accept the Arkansas position.
Bielema was asked if there’s any concern Alvarez would hold a grudge if Arkansas was in consideration for the four-team playoff in 2014.
“The past is the past. It is what it is,” said Bielema, who added his last conversation with Alvarez came the day he took the Arkansas job. “I enjoyed my time with Coach Alvarez. He enjoys good football, and if he’s selected to be on that committee as well, you couldn’t have a better representative of what the game is all about. In my opinion, a guy that would be fair, just like Jeff.”
2. Nothing Dirty
Bielema is aware of Florida defensive tackle Damien Jacobs’ comments earlier this week that the Arkansas offensive line was “a little dirty.” But Bielema said he has not heard one complaint from officials about the way his line has performed this season.
“Not going to apologize for the way we play,” Bielema said. “I definitely encourage aggressive, tough behavior. Nothing cheap. If anybody does anything, we’ll handle that internally. I mean, they wouldn’t play. They wouldn’t start.”
Jacobs specifically referred to Arkansas center Travis Swanson, saying the senior was a good athlete “after the play.” Bielema, once again, supported his captain and said the conversation should lead to “an interesting matchup” Saturday.
“I’m an old D-linemen. I always think people are picking on me,” Bielema said. “It’s just one of those things. We’ve got people’s attention, I guess. It’s up to us now to what we’re going to do with it on Saturday night.”
3. Mitchell’s Experience
Linebacker Braylon Mitchell was back for Thursday’s practice after spending the morning his hometown of Heber Springs with former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton spoke in Heber Springs as part of a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of former President John F. Kennedy’s dedication of the Greers Ferry Dam. Mitchell was invited to participate in the ceremony as well, saying Thursday night he was scheduled to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Clarinda Carr, Bielema’s administrative assistant also attended the event along with director of football operations Chris Hauser.
“He was kind of grinning ear-to-ear,” Bielema said about Mitchell. “My assistant, CC, got to go as well. She was there at the original dedication when she was a youth. So it was one of those special opportunities.”
4. Extra Points
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman will choose a starter at right tackle today. Grady Ollison has started all five games at the position, but Brey Cook impressed after sliding over from guard last week. Both will play against the Gators. … Bielema said QB Brandon Allen had “no complications” with his shoulder this week and is expected to start his second straight game. … Bielema said no decision had been made for a starting spot at safety between Rohan Gaines and Alan Turner, although both will play Saturday. … LB Austin Jones will return to the lineup after being slowed by a hip injury last week, according to Bielema. … Bielema said Friday he’s never been 3-2, so Arkansas’ start is “something that has been adjustment for me.” However, Wisconsin was 3-2 under Bielema last season.