Mike Beebe: Surprised by Bret Bielema, Disappointed by Gus Malzahn

Mike Beebe: Surprised by Bret Bielema, Disappointed by Gus Malzahn
Gov. Mike Beebe says he is "very disappointed" by the hiring away of Gus Malzahn from ASU by Auburn. (Lance Turner)

Gov. Mike Beebe met with reporters Wednesday to discuss his Tuesday trip to Washington D.C. to address the "fiscal cliff" with other governors and President Obama.

But he wasn't about to get away without addressing the really important stuff.

Beebe was asked about Tuesday's seismic coaching changes in the state. The University of Arkansas hired a coach after an eight-month search, and for the second straight year, Arkansas State University lost a successful coach who stayed in town just one season.

Beebe said he was surprised by the hire of Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema to lead the Razorbacks, and "very disappointed" by the departure of ASU's Gus Malzahn for Auburn.

Beebe said he thinks UA athletic director Jeff Long either held the consideration of Bielema under wraps or else the option didn't materialize until this past weekend. Like everyone else in the state, Beebe said he was focusing on names such as TCU's Gary Patterson, Boise State's Chris Petersen and Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy.

He called Bielema a "good, competent coach" with a "good track record."

As for Malzahn leaving ASU after one successful year, Beebe said, "I'm obviously very disappointed."

Beebe, an ASU alumnus, noted the departure last year of former ASU coach Hugh Freeze for Ole Miss and said ASU has become a program on the rise and one now known for sending coaches to the Southeastern Conference.

"Hugh and Gus probably ought to pay a 10 percent finder's fee to [ASU quarterback] Ryan Aplin," he said.