Football: Barbour blasts Bret Bielema

On the day after Arkansas coach Bret Bielema used the death of Cal football player Ted Agu as an argument for making a rule change to slow the college game, Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour angrily responded, calling his remarks “misinformed, ill-advised and beyond insensitive.”

Bielema told reporters in Arkansas on Thursday that Agu’s Feb. 7 death, following a routine team training run, was evidence that college football should adopt a controversial rule that would prevent teams from snapping the ball until 10 seconds had elapsed on the 40-second play clock.

He made reference to a CBSSports.com report that Agu carried the sickle cell trait, adding, “I have a half a dozen players on my team currently that have that trait.”

Asked for concrete data that supports the notion that no-huddle, up-tempo football is a threat to the health of players, Bielema said, “Death certificates. There’s no more anything I need than that.”

After Agu’s funeral service Friday in his hometown of Bakersfield, attended by Cal’s players and coaches, Barbour blasted Bielema for his remarks.

“Bret Bielema’s comments about our Ted Agu are misinformed, ill-advised and beyond insensitive,” she said via Twitter.

“Using the tragic loss of one of our student athletes as a platform to further a personal agenda in a public setting is beyond inappropriate.”

In a series of tweets, Bielema offered an explantion for his comments and condolences, but stopped short of an apology.

“In my press conference last night, I referenced information about the tragic loss of a life of a student-athlete,” Bielema said. “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.”

Bielema and Alabama coach Nick Saban are among high-profile coaches who favor the change, which must be approved by a playing rules oversight panel on March 6.

Jeff Faraudo

  • GoBears49

    Barbour should ask Bielema if he is going to excuse his players that have a sickle cell trait from running a routine training run. I doubt that anyone knows, at least right now, what exactly caused Agu’s death, but it was certainly not as from being on the field defending against a hurry-up offense. But what Barbour said was spot on.

  • LA_Ed

    What an incredible jerk! If you can’t keep up with a fast paced offense beat it in the film room, don’t change the ruled.

  • Wehofx

    We’ll said, Sandy.

    On combine per twitter:

    Richard Rodgers yesterday 16 reps bench 225(?) just ran a 4.85 40-yard dash.

    Not good. He had to know his “measurable” woul be mediocre at best. He got bum info.

  • LA_Ed

    Just looked at the combine on the NFL network. Rodgers was not very impressive but then again with the exception of a handful of plays he wasn’t very impressive at Cal, all potential, not much performance. Who tells these guys that they’re ready to move on?

  • 707 Bear

    I assume his dad–NFL coach–advised him.

    As to the other early outs, who knows.

  • LA_Ed

    I guess the old saying “Father Knows Best” doesn’t apply in this situation.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    If a defensive player’s arm, or worse his HEAD, gets injured should he have to flop to the ground, fake a leg injury, and stop the entire flow of the game (as is the current setup) in order to get subbed out? Or should he be able to jog off the field like a man and get subbed for quickly while definitely NOT disrupting the flow of the game (no whistles) in any way whatsoever? I feel like if you are against this smart rule change that greatly increases the INTEGRITY of the game then you undoubtedly have Luddite tendencies. This rule change is a no-brainer and should be implemented for 2014.

    And please, I have been trying to find a decent reason why not to implement the rule, with absolutely no success. Can anyone help me with that search? ARE there ANY good reasons not to change the rule? Anyone? Anyone?

    The rule change has nothing to do with Agu’s unfortunate death, that is an erroneous conflation of bielemas part. But the rule change nevertheless is ALL about player safety, any sickle-cell issues aside.

    Go Bears!

  • 707 Bear


    I agree.

    College and the NFL have been on a steady course of increasing safety; offenses that run 90 plays (collisions) is a step back.

    I don’t need data to prove to me that tired players are more likely to get injured.

    Plus, if a certain number of players are bound to be injured for every certain number of plays, if you run more plays, there will be more injuries.

    I’ll be just as happy seeing Cal run 60 plays as opposed to their usual 90.