BRYAN, Texas -- The 2012 season went about as bad as possible for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Before Bobby Petrino was fired the Hogs were considered as a preseason top five team in the nation, but without him and with interim coach John L. Smith Arkansas ended up 4-8 and missed a bowl for the first time since 2009.
Of the four new head coaches hired in the SEC this off season, Arkansas getting Brett Bielema is easily the most surprising.
Bielema left Wisconsin after leading the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances, and he's very happy to be in the SEC.
"I was a, if you could say, closet SEC fan," Bielema said. "I couldn't openly say how much I enjoyed watching SEC football or their success because it really didn't do me any good when I was at Wisconsin. But there's a reason I'm here now. You can see this is a league, not just over a couple of two or three years, over the last decade has proven superiority over the world of college football and that's what intrigued me to come here."
Despite having a down 2012 and losing ten starters for 2013 the Razorbacks feel like they have a chance to be good right away.
Center Travis Swanson said, " A lot of people are looking at us as a rebuild year fro this program. We're not waiting three years to be successful. We're gonna be successful this year."
Fullback Kiero Small agrees. "After not going to a bowl game it really rekindled a lot of fire in guys. A lot of guys are ready to go to work. Everybody came out of spring ready to get their workouts in. Throughout the summer we've been working hard and we're ready to go in the fall."
The Hogs motto since Bielema has taken over has been 1-0, a phrase they take to heart every day.
"Don't look back at the past. Don't look at the future. Just focus on now. Just focus on today," explains senior defensive end Chris Smith. "Try to beat today and worry about tomorrow later. That's one thing you've got to do, especially coming from the situation we did last year."
"I think a lot of times people focus too much on the end product rather than the process," said Bielema. "I believe that success comes through a process of doing things the same way everyday. Whether it's the way we practice I want to get good, so we want to be 1-0. I want to tell those guys practice number 15 this year of fall camp before we play our opener, that practice has just as big of impact on the LSU game as the Louisiana-Lafayette game. Every day matters. I tell our players to win every day."
The Razorbacks open the season August 31 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
They'll host the Aggies in Fayetteville September 28.