Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Live from Little Rock: Jen Bielema says 'hello'


War Memorial Stadium: Kind of old, kind of small. (M. Bradley)

Little Rock, Ark. -- Bret Bielema coaches Arkansas. Jen Bielema is his wife. Apparently she's kind of famous over here. (This isn't without Arkansas precedent: The airport is named after Bill and Hillary Clinton.) She and I rode the same elevator at War Memorial Stadium -- she and her crew were headed to the suites; I was bound for the seat I currently occupy in the bare-bones press box -- and she, being neighborly, said, "Hello."

True confession: I didn't know who she was. After she exited, I asked an Arkansas media type as to her identity. "That's the coach's wife," he said.

Esteemed colleague Chip Towers informs me that Mrs. Bielema was onstage last night in downtown LR with Justin Moore at an event dubbed the Hometown Throwdown. I likewise had to ask who Justin Moore was. Country-music star from Arkansas, I was informed.

(My knowledge of country music pretty much begins and ends with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard -- all of whom I saw/have seen in person -- and Emmylou Harris, whom I've met. She's a Braves fan.

(While I'm digressing, I should note that I did once meet a famous music star on an elevator at a football event -- the 1989 SEC media days in Hoover, Ala. I was downward bound at the Wynfrey Hotel when the door opened and Cindy Wilson of the B-52's stepped aboard. I said, "I know you. You're Cindy." She looked at me and said, "Darling, the face (meaning mine) isn't familiar." She was very nice in the course of our 10-second interaction, and the band put on a fine show that night at the amphitheater just up the road.)

OK, enough about me and elevators. Todd Gurley is not here. Perhaps you've heard. Perhaps you've also heard that Arkansas has lost 15 conference games in succession since 2012. But the Wall Street Journal ran an intriguing photo feature on Friday -- the WSJ: not just about LBO's and IPO's! -- that showed that four of the Razorbacks' last five SEC losses have come by seven points or fewer.

The belief in the Ozarks is that the Hogs are primed to beat somebody good very soon. They had a chance against Texas A&M (lost in overtime) and Alabama (lost by a missed PAT), and now they face their third consecutive Top 10 opponent.

Georgia cannot slop around, if you'll pardon the expression, and beat the Hogs. But I don't think that will happen. I think Georgia is onto something now. Providing Gurley returns for Auburn, I'm not sure the Bulldogs will lose again this regular season.

But that's just me, and I'm guessing the friendly Mrs. Bielema has a different notion. Perhaps you do, too. That's why the figurative floor is again open. I'll be here until there's a winner at War Memorial, and I'd appreciate the company. And I thank you, as ever, in advance.


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.