Arkansas closed out a disappointing 4-8 season with a crushing 48-45 loss to Missouri tonight, and right after the game ended, they announced the long-anticipated firing of coach Bret Bielema. Arkansas had a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter, but they lost on a 19-yard field goal after a very entertaining seesaw second half. Bielema didn’t even make it off the field before he’d been informed of the decision.
The school released a (very lengthy) statement right after the loss.
“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Razorback Football program,” [Interim Athletics Director Julie] Cromer Peoples said. “During the course of the past five seasons, we have not been able to sustain the success on the field that is expected and required at the University of Arkansas. There is no question that Coach Bielema has been a valued and respected member of our department and has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes, including supporting them in their pursuit of graduation. We are grateful for his contributions to our program and most importantly his investment in the lives of our student-athletes. We wish him the very best both personally and professionally.
“Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally. I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nation’s best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”
Bielema came to Arkansas ahead of the 2013 season, leaving a Wisconsin team that had been to three straight Rose Bowls for the SEC. He went 29-34 in his five-year tenure with two bowl wins, but injuries helped derail the 2017 campaign, as the Razorbacks had just one win in the SEC.