LITTLE ROCK Gov. Mike Beebe says he was surprised by the University of Arkansas's hiring of Bret Bielema and disappointed by Gus Malzahn's departure from Arkansas State University after one season.
Beebe — who weighed in on the coaching developments during a press briefing at the state Capitol — said he had heard several other coaching possibilities in the weeks before UA on Wednesday hired Bielema from Wisconsin.
"Either they had kept that a really good secret or that didn't materialize as an option until this weekend," Beebe said. "... This guy's got a good track record. I'm sure he's a very good, competent coach, and I'm sure Wisconsin hated to lose him."
Beebe, an ASU alumnus who had supported Malzahn's hiring, said seeing him leave after only one season left him "very disappointed."
But, he said, the school will end up with a "good choice" and is a "program on the rise."
"I don't know of another school in the country that's had two SEC head coaches hired in two years," he said, referring to Malzahn's predecessor, Hugh Freeze. Freeze was hired by Ole Miss after one year at ASU.