THV's Dawn Scott sits down with U of A coach Bret Bielema for a one on one interview. (Photo: John Young/THV 11 News)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- In 10 days, Razorback spring football practice kicks off. It begins a new coaching era with Bret Bielema, and it'll be the first time Arkansas gets a glimpse of him in action.
THV 11's Dawn Scott got a look inside Coach's mind in a one-on-one interview with him.
We begin a 3-part series with what literally brings this tough head football coach to tears. Turns out, tragedy is what gives him the strength and resolve to coach.
It is his early years as one of 5 children Bret Bielema said instilled in him the value of hard work and family.
"We were the 5 'B's,'" said Bielema
But he credits his mother Marilyn, a breast cancer survivor, with teaching him to be tough and teaching him every lesson that got him here leading the Arkansas Razorback football team.
"You just have to rely on your gut instincts," said Coach Bielema. "Rely on who you are, what your mom raised you to be."
"What did your mom raise you to be?" THV 11's Dawn Scott asks.
"She raised me to be a person that cares about the people around him," said Bielema. "I know it sounds cliché' but treat people as you want to be treated."
Caring, in fact, is one of three words Coach Bielema uses to describe himself. Our conversation at the Broyles Center Museum inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium turned emotional.
"I cry a little too often, I get wrapped up a little too often. I can't shake who I am," described the coach.
"You cry, you said? What makes you cry?" asked THV's Dawn Scott
"A lot of things. I've held it together pretty good right now. I know this, when my sister left us, I was hyperventilating, couldn't catch my breath," he explained
Coach Bielema described the heart-breaking death of his older sister Betsy. It was 1990. Bret played football for the Iowa Hawkeyes. His team had just defeated Michigan, when he found out Betsy died in a freak accident. He shared with me a tender moment at her funeral when the pastor tried to calm him down
"He said, 'what made your sister happy?'" Bielema explained. "So I thought about it. She loved cinnamon rolls, so anytime I walk through the airport and smell cinnamon rolls, I lose it, just like I do now. I got to know her for 20 years ya know. That part's cool, some people never get that."
He also knows some people also never get this: a chance to coach in the SEC. And while he says he is caring, he also used two more words: Confident and believer. Believing every experience is a chance for success.
"In my profession," Bielema explained, "I've had so many situations where I've been able to guide young men through difficult ordeals because of what I went through and what I could reference. I think that's what life is about, taking those very difficult moments and making them triumphant in the end."