Morning, everyone! Hope your holiday season has been going well.
The Wisconsin State Journal has an exclusive interview with Bret Bielema, his first time talking with local media since he left for Arkansas. Bielema confirmed he has no regrets about how his exit transpired, noting "I would doubt very much, after people had 48 hours to kind of gather themselves, anybody I worked with, or worked around, or was part of my staff would have any negatives or animosity."
Bielema also had some comments that fall in line with what many Wisconsin fans were probably thinking:
"Everybody loved it because it was going so well there and probably thought it was going to stay that way for a long, long time. The main reasons I made the move are very important to me ... I really don't have any regrets at all."
The full interview is well worth reading, but here are some highlights:
- Bielema confirmed two principal reasons for his departure were the chance to coach in the SEC and the opportunity to have a larger salary pool for assistant coaches. "There was a contract situation and a salary pool that just didn't allow me to retain assistants," Bielema said in a teleconference with reporters. To the State Journal, he added, "If I had the same salary pool here that I had at Wisconsin, I would have never left."
- Co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge and strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert will indeed stay with Bielema's staff in Arkansas. After Wisconsin hired former Utah State coach Gary Andersen, there was speculation that Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez was trying to lure some of the departing assistants back to Madison.
- Some Wisconsin players tried to reach out to Bielema after hearing he was leaving, but he "didn't think it would be appropriate" to respond.
- Bielema and Alvarez haven't spoken since Bielema's departure. "I've reached out a couple times," Bielema said. "We've got common friends, I think we're going to get to where we need to be, but I knew he was going to be very upset with me for a long time. Hopefully, over time, we're going to be able to erase that."
Curt Phillips will indeed start the Rose Bowl, regardless of Joel Stave's availability, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says. That link also discusses how Alvarez has recommended offensive line coach Bart Miller to Andersen for the tight ends coach job that was opened once Eddie Faulkner left for Northern Illinois.
Tom Lea of ESPN Wisconsin recaps much of the aforementioned news in his notes roundup, though he does add one fantastic Alvarez quote at the end. On what he's most looking forward to in this Rose Bowl Trip: "The game. Disneyland doesn't blow up my skirt anymore."
Lea also has Wisconsin player reaction from their first meeting with Andersen. As you'd expect, it's pretty upbeat.