HOOVER, Alabama — Bret Bielema doesn't want anyone at Arkansas getting satisfied with seven wins, even though getting to that point last season and picking up a couple of late Southeastern Conference shutouts marked quite a turnaround.
The Arkansas coach said Wednesday at the conference's media days that while he's enjoying the positive attention, 7-6 doesn't go all that far in the loaded SEC West.
"I think it's ridiculous the amount of publicity and excitement that we're getting based off of 7-6. I get it because we were 3-9, and before that we were (4-8)," Bielema said. Then again, he regards the overall buzz around the program as "absolutely awesome."
If that seems contradictory, its only because Bielema and the Razorbacks have bigger aspirations. He got used to posting double-digit wins at Wisconsin, but Arkansas did come a long way from his debut season when the team didn't win an SEC game.
Bielema took the Badgers to three Rose Bowls in four years after posting the same record, but that wasn't a rebuilding job like this one.
The Razorbacks snapped a 17-game SEC losing streak with a shutout of LSU and then laid a goose egg on Mississippi the following week. They punctuated the season with a 31-7 win over Texas in the Texas Bowl.
The strength of that team was the defense and 1,100-yard rushers Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. Both the backs are still around and Brandon Allen has 25 career starts, more than any other returning SEC quarterback.
The big men are getting some attention, too. And that's by design.
The Razorbacks' media guide cover features the five offensive linemen. Bielema said if the Razorbacks, or any SEC team, can load up on good big men "we can win a lot of games."
It's clear the Razorbacks don't want seven to represent "a lot."
"We are excited about the direction we're heading in," Allen said. "We're excited about some of the things we accomplished last season but in no way are we at all satisfied with a 7-6 season. We know we have the talent and we have the players to be a lot better than that."