Since taking the reins of the Razorbacks almost 10 months ago, Bret Bielema hasn’t had a single commit flip to another school. Sure, there were a few hold-over John L. Smith recruits who said they had decommitted, but those players, in actuality, were cut loose by the Hogs’ new staff.
Bret Bielema's staff pulled off a major upset when they landed former Miami commit Alex Collins (3) in the 2013 recruiting class.
During that same period of time, Bielema has flipped prospects from Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Georgia Tech and Houston. This season, his staff has managed to convince at least one five-star and two four-stars committed elsewhere to come check out their program.
But Bielema certainly isn’t immune to being on the other side of the coin.
He’ll lose a player – maybe in a few days, a few weeks, a couple of months or in another recruiting class. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, Bielema and his staff of strong recruiters will eventually have a kid decommit and immediately give his pledge to another program.
That’s because it happens to everybody, no matter if you’ve just won the national championship or if your coach and his favorite blonde just crashed a Harley.
There are a handful of current UA commits who are looking around in the midst of the Hogs’ 3-4 season. They might stick with Arkansas, and they might not. They might not be looking around if the Razorbacks had won more games, but then again, who knows?
We’re talking about 17-year-old kids, for the most part. Coaches and fans want them to keep a non-binding, verbal agreement even though the majority of them are not legally old enough to make any kind of binding agreement on their own.
Some of these guys can barely afford to leave their hometown, and they're getting invited to stand on the sidelines in College Station, Texas, Tusacaloosa, Ala., and Los Angeles – all the while getting the royal treatment from some of the biggest names in the game.
So yeah, it’s easy to see why they’re tempted to do some traveling.
You can throw up your hands and say college football needs to re-examine recruiting rules. You can gripe about a man’s word no longer being his bond. Commitments don’t mean anything anymore, you say, and they ought to be called “reservations.”
And you might be right.
But, unfortunately, it is what it is, and it will continue to be that way.
The Razorbacks certainly don’t want to lose any of their current commits, and behind the scenes, there’s no doubt they’re working to convince those recruits – and their parents – to stick with the Hogs.
Other programs around the country who have winning records are doing the same thing.
Bielema doesn’t take the hardline stance of some coaches, like Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, who drops commits as soon as they visit elsewhere. But Arkansas’ head coach certainly frowns on his recruits taking trips to other universities, and yes, it could put the kid’s scholarship offer in jeopardy.
Personally, I think the Hogs could lose at least one of their current commits. I also think one of the commits who plans on doing some traveling is doing just that – getting a few free trips – but time will tell.
Either way, it’s not the end of the world. We don’t always like it, but it happens to everyone.
And so far, Bielema and Co. have been on the right side of the coin when it flips. In the game of recruiting, they're still winning a lot of tough battles, and they're pulling off some upsets in the process.