FAYETTEVILLE – Everything was going typically Friday night at the Springdale Convention Center. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was doing what coaches do at kickoff dinners – telling stories, delivering a few jokes, going over the roster and schedule.

FAYETTEVILLE – Everything was going typically Friday night at the Springdale Convention Center. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was doing what coaches do at kickoff dinners – telling stories, delivering a few jokes, going over the roster and schedule.


He slipped in a gem during that last part, though. It garnered quite the buzz in the immediacy that followed.


The third-year Razorbacks coach was going game-by-game, blow-by-blow through the schedule to the audience of fans and donors. The players had already left, a night free from football constraints. Bielema said Arkansas wasn’t the program he wanted it to be until it beat Alabama, mentioned the bye week that followed this year’s game against the Crimson Tide and how the Hogs beat LSU coming off last year’s bye, then it came.


"Probably doesn’t need to be said in here how much I hate Auburn," Bielema said.


The comment drew chuckles from corners and a scattered, quiet applause. Auburn visits Arkansas on October 24, the week after the Razorbacks’ bye. The Tigers’ coach is former Arkansas offensive coordinator and former Springdale High School head coach Gus Malzahn.


Malzahn and Bielema have what could be termed as a cool relationship. That isn’t ‘cool’ in the fashionable way. ‘Cool’ as in subdued. Or tepid. Or even chilly.


The two have claimed everything was kosher after trading verbal jabs at SEC Media Days in 2013. Last summer, around the same time, Bielema said the two had mended fences.


That was before Friday night.


Bielema didn’t say with hostility. He also didn’t say it as a complete joke. It felt more like a nod to the old days, two years ago. The Arkansas coach is hardly afraid of speaking his mind. He knew the media were gathered Friday night. Television cameras lined the back of the room directly across from where he spoke at the podium. The day-to-day print folks gathered at a table nearby.


The words were calculated. They were moderately tongue-in-cheek, but definitely purposeful.


Nevermind a week from Saturday. The season opener is all well and good, but that October 24 game should be the real fun.