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After 4.5 years, the Bret Bielema era at Arkansas has amounted to ... what?

Arkansas’ blowout loss to South Carolina is one in a series of lows.

New Mexico State v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Hey Razorbacks fans: Bret Bielema’s buyout at Arkansas is reportedly only $5.9 million, not $15 million! That was the good news.

South Carolina embarrassed the Hogs 48-22 Saturday, with Alabama and Auburn still to go. In Year 2 of Will Muschamp’s own rebuild, his Gamecocks scored 40-plus points (a first for any Muschamp team since 2012) and held the Hogs to 106 yards rushing. For five years, Bielema has touted that — eventually — Arkansas would win games with stellar defense and a powerful, run-based, clock-controlling offense.

It’s hard to find an arc of progress during Bielema’s time in Fayetteville, especially in the first half of his seasons.

Arkansas is 2-3 and 0-2 in the SEC. Last season, the Hogs started 4-2 but 0-2 in the SEC. In 2015, they started 2-4 and 1-2 in the SEC. In 2014, they started 3-2 but 0-2 in the SEC.

Since Bobby Petrino took the Hogs to a Sugar Bowl and then crashed a motorcycle with his lover/subordinate on board, Arkansas has been an afterthought in the SEC:

  • Bielema is now 27-29 at Arkansas. He’s 10-24 in league play and 7-18 vs. the SEC West.
  • The Hogs have a winning record against only two other league programs since Bielema was hired: Ole Miss (3-1) and Tennessee (1-0).
  • Since Bielema was hired, the Hogs have lost nine games by 20 or more points. Only Kentucky (11) and Vanderbilt (13) have more losses by 20-plus.

Much like the fan malaise around Butch Jones, which turned extremely volatile after the Vols were blown out by UGA last week, the South Carolina beating threatens to engage a fan base that’s had only a few fleeting moments to hang on to in the Bielema era.

If you’re an Arkansas fan, what IS the highlight of Bret Bielema’s time?

  • Shutting out LSU and Ole Miss in back-to-back wins by a combined score of 47-0 in 2014? (The Hogs would lose to Missouri the next week.)
  • The “erotic” kneel to end a Texas Bowl win over the University of Texas? (That Longhorns team finished 6-7.)
  • Finally beating Gus Malzahn in 2015, the coach some Arkansas fans blame for fracturing their fan base during the Houston Nutt saga? (Bielema is 1-3 vs. Auburn.)
  • Maybe it was playing spoiler to Ole Miss’ best chance at a division title in the modern era on the famous fourth-and-25 play?

That’s certainly a fun memory, but to Hogs fans, the idea that the program would live to spoil a Mississippi program’s conference title pursuit is an insult.

And the struggle to find a highlight for Arkansas in SEC play over five seasons is what has this fan base increasingly restless.