Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema has come under scrutiny after a controversial comment to a booster club in Searcy Thursday night.
Bielema is in favor of a proposed rule change that would force offenses to snap the ball only after 10 seconds has passed on the play clock. The claimed idea is to help prevent injuries to defensive players who may need to substitute out of the game because of injury. Those against the rule claim this is an attempt to slow down face-paced offenses, and not a player safety issue.
When asked what proof there was of player safety issues with no-huddle offense, Bielema said, “Death certificates. There’s no more I need than that.”
Bielema was referring to California player Ted Agu, who passed away after a workout last week.
Further explaining himself, Bielema said, “The player had sickle-cell trait. I have half a dozen players on my team currently that have that trait.”
On Friday evening, Bielema released the following statement.
“It was brought to my attention that remarks I made yesterday evening while discussing a proposed rule change were unintentionally hurtful. I am very passionate, as we all are, about the serious nature of protecting the well-being of student-athletes, and earlier today I was interviewed by SI.com writer Andy Staples to explain my stance on the proposed rule. In my press conference last night, I referenced information about the tragic loss of a life of a student-athlete. My comments were intended to bring awareness to player safety and instead they have caused unintended hurt. As a head coach who works with young individuals every day, the passing of Ted Agu is a reminder to us all how short and precious life is. I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the Agu family, Coach Sonny Dykes and to the University of California family.”
The rule will be voted on March 6.