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Round two of the heavyweight showdown between Bret Bielema and the Razorback Foundation left no doubt the attorneys handling this lawsuit are double-edged sharp.

The foundation's lead attorney is Marshall Ney, and he needed just 16 pages to stagger Bielema's 63-page lawsuit.

One of Bielema's attorneys -- and he has a bunch -- is Tom Mars, who has offices in Fayetteville and Atlanta and has earned a national reputation for representing college athletes who apply for transfer waivers.

Ney and Mars are familiar with each other. Mars worked for the Friday Firm before going on his own to represent college coaches and athletes.

In a nutshell, Bielema's lawsuit was filed because the foundation has not paid the final $7 million of his buyout agreement.

The foundation had sent him more than $4 million when it was decided he wasn't living up to his part of the agreement by searching for a job that was close to his old one at UA.

Now Bielema wants the $7 million, and the foundation wants its $4 million-plus paid back.

The person who awarded Bielema an incredibly lucrative buyout, Jeff Long, is now fighting his own battles at Kansas, where he landed as athletic director.

It seems the start of this problem was Dec. 29, 2014. Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks had just beaten Texas 31-7 in the Texas Bowl.

Although it was obvious the Longhorns didn't want to be there, it appeared the Razorbacks were about to turn the corner.

Long, who also had to deal with the Longhorns when he was an associate athletic director at Oklahoma, was too joyful.

A new contract and more money were thrown at Bielema to accompany the outrageous buyout, originally $18 million but with a sliding scale that ended up being $11.9 million when he was fired Nov. 24, 2017.

Someone should have pointed out to Long in 2014 that Bielema was under contract and not going anywhere.

Instead, with a new $4 million contract and the incredible buyout, the Razorbacks went 8-5 the next season, which would be Bielema's best at Arkansas.

That included three conference losses, including another to Alabama, who Bielema came to Arkansas from Wisconsin to beat.

No telling what Long would have done if Bielema had beaten Alabama. We might be talking about the University of Bret Bielema today.

The night after beating Texas, which finished 6-7 in 2014, in Houston, Bielema's agent commented that he thought his client would be a good NFL coach.

Bielema was 11-14 during his last two seasons at Arkansas. After being fired, he turned his attention to the NFL.

Long put in that buyout agreement that if Bielema was fired, he still could make up to $150,000 a year and receive every penny promised to him.

And he did, first making $25,000 as a consultant for the New England Patriots. He then served as a special assistant to Patriots Coach Bill Belichick from July 2018 to January 2019 at a salary of $100,000.

That was when foundation Executive Director Scott Varady called timeout.

Bielema filed his lawsuit in federal court, and it has been assigned to federal judge P.K. Holmes, but the foundation's counterpunch says the suit belongs in Arkansas state court.

Ney cites the buyout agreement that specifically states any arbitration would be in state court, and he listed several examples of why it belongs there.

This all started because of an over-reaction to a win over Texas, but now we now know why three years ago Donald Bobbitt, president of the UA system, said he would personally be approving all future UA contracts, including those in athletics.

Like it is: Opinion


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