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In part 13 of our series, recent events have dictated a look at a hire that I will hop around and shout 'Yes!' about a whole bunch of times if it comes true.
Two reports have surfaced indicating that Wisconsin's top choice to replace Bret Bielema may be Utah State head coach Gary Andersen.
In part 12, we break down the Bowling Green head coach and ask ourselves, does one really bad year preclude him from the job?
Has a name dropped in the flurry of rumors last week suddenly become serious?
In part 11 of our series, we're looking at the possibility of a quick return...
Notre Dame's defensive coordinator has been linked to the Badgers' head coaching job, though he reportedly has yet to be contacted.
Wisconsin's Director of Athletics and interim head coach met with the media on Sunday afternoon. His message regarding this protracted coaching search? Don't panic.
A name we all like is back in the news...
Wisconsin does indeed lose its linebackers coach, but not to Bret Bielema's staff.
Could the best replacement for Bret Bielema already be employed by the University of Wisconsin? Andy Baggot says it's a possibility.
Buh becomes the fifth assistant to depart Wisconsin since Bret Bielema announced he was leaving for Arkansas.
Wisconsin loses its associate head coach and top recruiter to Bret Bielema's staff in Fayetteville.
After just one season calling plays for Wisconsin, offensive coordinator Matt Canada has taken the same job at N.C. State.
Azzanni made a strong impression in his one year in Madison, but appears to be headed for Butch Jones' staff in Knoxville.
We have a place, we have reports, are we about to have a confused goodbye?
A very interesting name has just emerged...
The University of Wisconsin has posted a job opening. Will there be a new offensive coordinator in our midst? [Spoiler Alert? No. Not Yet Anyway]
The details are out on Ash's defensive coordinator contract at Arkansas, and they confirm Wisconsin probably couldn't have kept him.
In part 10 of the series, we break down an Oklahoma offensive coordinator and gasp at how well that position has fed into the head coaching world.
Could there be a decision made today?
The Bowling Green coach surfaces as a candidate for the open job in Madison.
A new name emerges in the coaching hunt, and it's somewhat of a surprise.
And the first assistant domino falls...
Miami head coach Al Golden has been linked to the Wisconsin job pretty much since Bret Bielema left for Arkansas. Given the somewhat slow (perhaps rightfully so) nature of the subsequent coaching search led by Director of Athletics (and interim head coach) Barry Alvarez, the pool of possible candidates has done nothing but gradually diminish.
First, it was Willie Taggart taking the job at South Florida. Now, it appears Golden will remain at Miami.
Wisconsin gauged interest Al Golden according to a source, but he is not entertaining interest from the Badgers or other colleges now.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 11, 2012
Multiple programs have reached out to Al Golden, per source, but he is excited about youthful roster and fact UM is already moving forward— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 11, 2012
Granted, Schad's report seems to be the singular one at this point. It does, however jive with what we've heard so far:
Source: #Badgers will likely NOT interview Miami head coach Al Golden for head coaching vacancy— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) December 11, 2012
According to CanesInsider: Al Golden told a recruit he isn't interested in other jobs, & is looking forward to build Miami#badgers— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) December 7, 2012
As we turn into week two of the coaching search, it's time to remember that patience is necessary, and history doesn't show that speed is a necessary element for the process to work.
Barry Alvarez now wears two hats as the Badgers prep for the Rose Bowl. But how soon does he need to find Wisconsin's next head coach?
So, guess what?
In part nine of the series, we take a look at the Iowa State head coach, and wonder just how it got real quiet toward him on the rumor front.
In part eight of the series, we break down the Miami Head Coach and theorize why, if Paul Chryst wasn't in the hunt, Al Golden won't be either.
With the retention of Arkansas running backs coach, it looks as if the Badgers will keep their recruiting coordinator.
Well, the first one is gone.
After a remarkable flurry of rumors and updates regarding Wisconsin's head coaching search earlier in the week, the tide has slowed a bit in the aftermath of Barry Alvarez announcing he'd coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl and subsequently ruling out Pitt head coach Paul Chryst as an option at UW.
But now Wisconsin has one less target in its pool of coaching candidates, as SB Nation's Steven Godfrey reported earlier Friday that former Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart will be the next coach at South Florida. Taggart, a Florida native, reportedly interviewed with Wisconsin earlier in the week. But all along, USF was said to be acting quickly and Taggart was indeed interested in the job. He'll take over a Bulls team that struggled through two straight losing seasons in three years under Skip Holtz.
For Wisconsin, the search is now trimmed to a group of candidates who have seen their names frequently tossed around this week. Boise State head coach Chris Petersen will reportedly interview with Wisconsin this week, as interim head coach and Director of Athletics said he would hold off initial interviews (despite that reprot Taggart had already interviwed) until after this weekend, when Wisconsin had several key recruits coming in. Other names that have been identified as possible candidates are Miami head coach Al Golden, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
In Part Seven of our series, we talk about the Jacksonville Defensive Coordinator, and wonder, where's his interview?
The dream hire's back in the news. And it may not be just "because open job."
In Part 6 of the Series, we go after the possibility that Barry Alvarez is willing to cause the internet to explode and Badger fans to be very angry.
Barry Alvarez did it yesterday and on Friday, it was Bret Bielema's turn on The Dan Patrick Show.
You can find the audio of the interview here, as well as a quick write-up of some of the more notable quotes.
Patrick's show is phenomenal for a great number of reasons, but I particularly enjoy his interviews for the substance they provide. After replaying a clip from Alvarez' interview on Thursday, Patrick gets right into it with Bielema -- no "Hey, howya doin'?" or unnecessary banter back and forth. And Patrick doesn't seek out to rip Bielema to shreds, either. He's fair, asks the questions we're all wondering and doesn't let any weak answers slide.
The whole thing's about 12 minutes, and I encourage you to listen. Here are some highlights:
The former Badger offensive coordinator wants to come home, and rumor has it? People in Madison are willing to listen.
In this edition of Q&A, we go in-depth with Notre Dame blog One Foot Down regarding Bob Diaco.
In part five of the series, we refocus our eyes to whom seems to be the new favorite among the Badger faithful.
Mike Taylor and Curt Phillips (pictured) prodded Barry Alvarez to coach the Rose Bowl. After Thursday's rousing press conference, their wish was granted.
While initial reports indicated Charlie Partridge would be the one to join Bret Bielema, the rumors have switched to his tag-team partner -- and Arkansas isn't the only possible destination.
Wisconsin's Director of Athletics will officially coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin is going about the hiring process a little bit differently this time around. Barry Alvarez apparently doesn't feel he has anyone he can simply point to and say, "You, you're head football coach now." Instead, he will be casting a net far and wide hoping to catch a tuna among the sludge. And oh, there will be sludge.
Wisconsin has listed the vacated head coaching job on its website. Bill Belichick is free to apply. So am I, apparently. Let's see what the requirements are ...
Degree and area of specialization:
|Bachelor's Degree required|
I have one of those! What else?
Minimum number of years and type of relevant work experience:
|Minimum of 5 years of successful collegiate football coaching experience preferred. Division I head coaching experience is also preferred.|
Dang. Well if you or anyone you know fits the bill, feel free to send an application in. Applications will be accepted only through Dec. 19, so don't delay!
While Bret Bielema's departure has taken everyone by surprise, so far all involved parties have been cordial. Players leaving Tuesday's team meeting expressed their disappointment, but were still able to say nice things. Ditto Barry Alvarez, who even sounded somewhat choked up speaking on the Dan Patrick show.
Cue junior middle linebacker Chris Borland to do what he does best, and lay a body slam:
When anyone around this program simply says "coach", you know who they're talking about.— chris r borland (@chrsbrlnd) December 6, 2012
AWWWWW YEEEAAAHHH. After a couple days spent fretting about the future of the program, and falling in and out of love with a dozen potential head coaches, it is refreshing to hear someone come out with some good old-fashioned trash talk and show that this situation isn't being taken lightly behind closed doors.
Thank you, Chris Borland, thank you for coming out and making everything fun again.
The one everyone wants isn't going to be heading home next season.
Say what you will about Bret Bielema, but he always made a point to promote the Wisconsin brand at every opportunity. Sometimes it was big things, like letting ESPN film an hour-long special on last year's quarterback competition. At the very least, he dropped a quick "On Wisconsin" at the end of press conferences, as well as radio and TV interviews.
Unfortunately for him, hard-set habits don't die easy. Speaking with Bruce Murray on Mad Dog Radio on Thursday afternoon, Bielema not-so-gracefully caught himself from saying "On Wisconsin" at the end of the interview. You can just hear him make a wuh sound before he stammers, "Go Hogs". Take a listen here.
You can check out highlights from the interview on the Twitter feed for Mad Dog Radio. There wasn't much more to gleam than what has surfaced over the past couple days. Bielema reiterated that money for assistant coaches was one of the big reasons he left, though not the only reason. He also said that Barry Alvarez was at practice every day, and will do a great job coaching the Rose Bowl.
Standard stuff, except that he apparently still has cheese curds on the brain.
Immediately following his press conference, Barry Alvarez went on the Dan Patrick show to discuss some of the decisions that he's had to make this week, as well as the ones he has to make going forward.
From our fanbase to yours, we present: The Bret Bielema Experience.
It's time to dream a little dream. Part four of the coaching search has a name that seems to have crashed the gate.
Bret Bielema indicated that money -- namely how much the school spent on assistants -- may have been a big reason why he left Wisconsin. If the athletic department really is cash-strapped, how much will it be willing to spend on a new head coach?
Barry Alvarez will coach the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, according to Tom Mulhern at the Wisconsin State Journal. A source close to Alvarez told the Journal that team captains reached out to the athletic director and asked him if he would lead the team to Pasdena. Alvarez reportedly said that would he be "honored."
Alvarez, as all of you are probably aware, was the head coach of Wisconsin football from 1990 to 2005 before taking over as AD. He went 3-0 at the Rose Bowl, defeating UCLA in 1994 and 1999, and Stanford in 2000. He compiled a 118-73-4 record as a head coach, and a 8-3 record in bowl games.
A report earlier in the day indicated that Alvarez would make a formal announcement at a press conference Thursday. He may have to address the media earlier than expected now that the news is out in the open.
How does everyone feel about this? Will Alvarez be able to conduct an effective coaching search and handle team responsibilities at the same time? Is this an indication that he already has a new head coach in mind?
Bret Bielema just wrapped his introductory press conference, and this image was the principal highlight. The only highlight, really. Nothing else really mattered.
Jokes aside, it was obviously pretty interesting to see how this thing transpired. The simple things that happen during all coaching changes -- referencing the departed team as "they" and the one as "we," for instance -- were striking, but Bielema also didn't seem much different. His opening statement was a bit of a ramble, though he did look fairly nervous at first. Bielema's always been a story guy, quick to drop his anecdotes. Thus, it was only fitting when he quickly launched into his growing up on a pig farm.
Bielema said the chance to coach in the SEC was an "opportunity to chase a dream," though he did credit UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez for giving him his first opportunity as a head coach. Bielema also said he was sure he was taking the Arkansas job once he met with Alvarez. The two Wisconsin figureheads had a well-known mentor-pupil relationship, and that was considered one of the more intriguing elements to Bielema's departure.
Other significant notes from the presser:
A new name surfaces in the Coaching Hunt. Like the time before and the time before that.
My goodness, that was weird.
The quarterback behind the rise of Badger Ball becomes the ultimate Wisconsin man? Could happen.
In less than 10 minutes, it'll be official. Officially, official!
Bret Bielema is going to Arkansas, and by now we've had just about 24 hours or so to mull the whole thing over. Barry Alvarez sure seems intent on coaching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, though we won't know that for sure until tomorrow, probably.
But before that even, Arkansas will introduce Bielema as its new head coach in a 4 p.m. CT press conference in Fayetteville. We'll be tweeting updates throughout on @B5Q and keep this thread open for a while to discuss whatever transpires in this presser. Sad to say, I think "1-0" -- at least Bielema's version -- will be retired.
You can watch the press conference live on Arkansas' website.
Barry Alvarez will hold a press conference Thursday to announce who will coach the Wisconsin Badgers for the Rose Bowl, according to the Wall Street Journal. In an interview, Alvarez told the publication that he has not ruled out the possibility of coaching the team himself on Jan. 1 against the Stanford Cardinal.
It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone at this point that Alvarez is considering returning to the team, even if only for the trip to Pasadena. As Adam pointed out just a bit ago, Alvarez has had his fair share of success in the Rose Bowl, and would likely be received warmly by fans. He would also have to shake off a considerable amount of rust. Alvarez' last game was nearly seven years ago.
Alvarez is in New York for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, in case you wondering why the Wall Street Journal was able to scoop the local press.
Are you the athletic director or president of the University of Pittsburgh? Then you probably don't know what Paul Chryst's buyout is.
Barry Alvarez and the Rose Bowl go together like peanut butter and jelly. An Alvarez return to coaching for the upcoming game in Pasadena may be a smart course of action, as long as he's doing it for the right reasons.
The terms of Bret Bielema's contract with Arkansas have been released, and while the numbers mark only a slight raise from what he made at Wisconsin, they are still enough to make him one of college football's top 10 highest paid coaches.
As Adam Mertz of the Wisconsin State Journal points out in referencing a story on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's website, Bielema's $3.2 million contract that runs through 2018 makes him the 10th-highest paid coach. Salary information comes from USA Today's salaries database, which shows TCU's Gary Patterson just ahead of him with a $3.46 million contract.
If dissatisfaction over how he was treated at Wisconsin was indeed a significant motive for his departure, perhaps Bielema saw this top-10 status as a primary motivator.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article also has the more particular details of Bielema's contract:
UPDATE, Wednesday 10:33 am: Confirmation has come on Bielema's deal with Arkansas, and it's actually a six-year deal worth $3.2 million annually. From Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau/Stephens Media:
Have new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema's letter of agreement in hand. It's actually a 6-year deal worth $3.2 million annually.— Robbie Neiswanger (@NWARobbie) December 5, 2012
Bielema will be owed $12.8 million through Dec. 31, 2015 if terminated by convenience. Drops to $9.6 in 2016, $6.4 in 2017, $3.2 in 2018— Robbie Neiswanger (@NWARobbie) December 5, 2012
Annually, that seems to be about a $600,000 annual raise from what Bielema was making at Wisconsin. Small, indeed. Neiswanger also adds that performance incentives in the deal could allow Bielema to earn as much as $700,000 annually.
Dave Heller of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel passed along this bit of information, which we should get confirmation on shortly. Reportedly, Bret Bielema will make up to $3.2 million per year over the life of his new contract with Arkansas.
Arkansas TV station: 5-year deal for Bielema for up to $3.2M a year. If right, not huge bump in $. Ark expected to announce at 515 #badgers— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) December 4, 2012
If this is true, it's not a massive raise for Bielema, and it doesn't represent a number that Barry Alvarez and UW were unable to unmatch. His base compensation for this season is $2.5 million, and it's hard to believe that Wisconsin wasn't willing to match this offer from Arkansas.
As the day goes on, this looks more and more like a case of Bielema wanting to test himself in the SEC above all else, but I suspect that we'll know more about his salary and his intentions shortly.
Co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge has been mentioned as a candidate to join Bielema at Arkansas.
UPDATE, 10:14 am: Well, this is interesting. Just a few moments ago, Potrykus tweeted again that Chryst will indeed be Wisconsin's No. 1 choice. But there's one more name that should be thrown into the mix:
Been told P.Chryst will be #Badgers No. 1 choice but name to keep on radar: Al Golden of Miami. Hmmm.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) December 5, 2012
Paul Chryst's name surfaced in connection to the Wisconsin job before Bret Bielema was even officially out the door. Now, it appears the speculation won't end until Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez makes his hire.
Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported late Tuesday night that not only is Chryst Alvarez' top choice, the current Pitt head coach "still misses Wisconsin." Chryst, 47, is a Madison native and was raised in the state, fitting the "Wisconsin guy" image many have pegged for the positoin.
"Paul still misses Wisconsin," a source close to the UW program said, adding that the Madison native was the No. 1 choice of athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Chryst's mother still lives in Wisconsin and his middle child, daughter JoJo, is a senior at Madison Edgewood High School. The family still maintains a cottage north of Madison.
"He still misses home," the source said.
Chryst, who led Pitt to a 6-6 record in his first year as head coach, as the Panthers set to play Mississippi in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5 in Birmingham, Ala. Tuesday night, he issued a statement affirming his commitment to Pitt.
"I understand the speculation surrounding my name given today's developments. I am committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh. I am focusing all my time and energy on our team's bowl game preparation and recruiting a great group of young men to join our program and this outstanding university. We are working hard every day to re-establish this program and I am excited about the future of Pitt football."
The semantics game will continue until Wisconsin hires its coach, and our friends at Cardiac Hill, SB Nation's Pitt blog, believe it won't pass before then, either. They pass along the news that Chryst's buyout at Pitt is reportedly $6 million. Considering Big Ten schools reportedly earned $24 million from the conference's television deals, Wisconsin likely could afford that buyout.
Chryst and his coaches were reportedly working the phones last night in an effort to keep recruits on board, but as Cardiac Hill says, the process is still not over.
Paul Chryst is a better person than Todd Graham. That's obvious and undeniable. But there's nothing to prevent him from going to UW and claiming that he never had any intentions of leaving. Nothing out there that could be called a lie if he bolts.
This will not end until Wisconsin hires someone. Alvarez is a smart guy who hopefully had a contingency plan in place. Hopefully we know soon. For our collective sanity.
What can the Badgers expect from a coaching change in 2013 and beyond? History shines a light on the question:
After the departure of coach Bielema to Arkansas, will some of his recruits go with him?
Barry Alvarez reportedly knew more than two weeks ago that Bret Bielema was leaving Wisconsin. If he doesn't have someone already lined up for the job, he's made a mistake.
How easy was it for Arkansas to pry Bret Bielema? Easier than you think...
Former Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell was one of the hottest names on the coaching market after guiding the Kent State Golden Flashes to an 11-2 record and a No. 25 ranking in the final BCS Standings. He appeared to be on his way to Purdue earlier this afternoon, then Bret Bielema announced he would be leaving Wisconsin to be the next head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Then this happened around 7:00 p.m. CT:
About Hazell to Purdue - I can only report what I'm told WHEN I'm told. Obviously, another situation has grabbed Hazell's attention #wiscy— Brendan Murphy (@BMurphySports) December 5, 2012
Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports countered Murphy's report about 40 minutes later, citing his own source:
Purdue is hiring Darrell Hazell as its new coach, a source tells CBS.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 5, 2012
But the damage has been done. Until something is officially announced, chalk up Hazell among the growing list of candidates Wisconsin could be pursuing. We will certainly keep you posted on any further developments.
In the wake of the Bret Bielema news, I go through the Badgers potential replacements. Part one is the first name that came to everybody's mind.
Wisconsin's former offensive coordinator seems out of the running to replace Bret Bielema... for now.
The Wisconsin football team met for a team meeting with departing head coach Bret Bielema at 6:00 p.m. CT. At 6:13, offensive coordinator Matt Canada was spotted leaving the facility, and players soon followed according to the Badger Herald. They seemed to be largely understanding of their head coach's decision to become the new head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Via the Herald:
"I'm not (disappointed) there's no reason to be," senior tailback Montee Ball said as he was leaving the meeting. "As men, we're all proud of him. He has goals in this life that he wants to accomplish."
When asked why Bielema said he was leaving, Ball simply replied, "He wants to go win a championship."
"I think that everybody faces choices in life and you need to do what's best for you in those choices," Frederick said. "I think he's done tremendous things for the program and he's left us in a good spot."
Frederick confirmed that the team is still waiting word on who would coach the Rose Bowl. Joel Stave also said he didn't know who would lead the team against Stanford. He was much more curt than Frederick when asked about the future of the program.
Reporter: Joel (Stave), as a young player are you worries about the future of the program? Stave: 'No' #Badgers— Tom Lea (@ESPNTomLea) December 5, 2012
Most of you agreed that Bret Bielema coaching the team for the Rose Bowl would be a bad idea. Fact is, I'm among the 85 percent of people who agree in our poll regarding this question. An emotional response? Maybe.
But there's a report from the Sports Desk of The Badger Herald that seems to show that we're going to get our wish regarding Bielema and the Rose Bowl.
We're not sure who's going to lead the team into the Rose Bowl. We're just certain who isn't. But there may be something to the reports that Barry Alvarez is willing to take the team and lead it through the Rose Bowl as a figurehead.
At the very least, it seems as if this break from Bielema's going to be a clean one.
Why did Bret Bielema make what appears to be a lateral move to Arkansas on Tuesday? And where does Wisconsin go from here?
Bret Bielema probably didn't arrive at Wisconsin viewing it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but that is eventually what it became to him. It's also what it became to a number of his assistants, who left for better jobs during his tenure.
Over at the ESPN Big Ten blog, Adam Rittenburg wrote an interesting post on how Wisconsin needs to approach its coaching search. In his opinion, the Badgers need to make sure they get someone who sees UW as his long-term home, not a bridge to the promised land of the SEC.
Wisconsin needs to decide what it wants to be. It'll soon have an upgraded athletic facility. Will there be additional resources to attract top assistants? Bielema lost six, including Chryst, after the 2011 season. So there had better be. The challenges in recruiting always will be there, but Wisconsin has found ways to overcome them with player development.
This is a very good program that shouldn't be viewed as a stepping stone, especially to a place like Arkansas.
Alvarez needs to hire someone who sees Wisconsin as a potential destination job.
Dave Doeren, who just signed on to take the NC State job, probably does not fall under that umbrella. The two very relevant guys (who we'll be writing about this week) that Rittenburg brought up are former Wisconsin offensive coordinator and current Pitt head coach Paul Chryst and Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the latter of whom is a Wisconsin graduate and a former assistant for the Green Bay Packers.
A top coordinator or mid-major coach with no ties to Wisconsin might see Wisconsin as a bridge to a massive job in the SEC, or with a nationally recognized power like Notre Dame, USC or Texas. Chryst probably wouldn't see the UW job in that way, and UW alum Bevell certainly wouldn't.
It's a compelling point, but I'm not sure I agree that hiring a 'Wisconsin Man' is a necessity. If the reports of Darrell Hazell's move to Purdue were premature, or Kirby Smart is interested in taking the Wisconsin job, I'd like to have them.
And of course, Arkansas has issued a press release regarding the hiring of Bret Bielema.
FAYETTEVILLE - Bret Bielema, who led Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowls by winning each of the last three Big Ten titles, was named the 32nd head football coach in Arkansas history Tuesday, it was announced by Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long.
"Bret Bielema is an exceptional leader of young men and an outstanding football coach who has proven his program is centered on establishing an unshakable foundation that emphasizes the development of each student-athlete as an individual," Long said. "Coach Bielema has led his team to a historic run of championships while seeing a record number of student-athletes recognized for academic achievement. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a commitment to competing for a national championship with a program known for discipline, honesty and integrity. His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans. He not only shares the vision and values for the future of Arkansas football, he embraces them."
Bielema brings a 68-24 (.739) career record as a head coach, the ninth-highest winning percentage among active coaches in the NCAA with at least five years of experience, built behind strong offense, stifling defense and all-around disciplined play. He is one of only 12 active head coaches and 16 overall to have led a team to at least three BCS games. His 40 wins over the last four seasons are tied for the most of any four-year stretch in Wisconsin history.
"I am very humbled and honored to become the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks," said Bielema. "During my conversation with Jeff (Long) he described the characteristics for the perfect fit to lead this program. It was evident we share the same mission, principles and goals. The infrastructure in place at Arkansas shows the commitment from the administration to accomplish our goals together and I am excited to begin to lead this group of student-athletes. This program will represent the state of Arkansas in a way Razorback fans everywhere will be proud of."
UPDATE, 6:31 pm: And here comes Arkansas' official release.
Wisconsin has finally released its first official comments regarding the departure of head coach Bret Bielema for Arkansas. The statement, in its entirety, is below.
MADISON, Wis. -- University of Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez issued the following statement Tuesday on the departure of Bret Bielema, who has been named head football coach at the University of Arkansas:
"I was very surprised when Bret told me he was taking the offer from Arkansas. He did a great job for us during his seven years as head coach, both on the field and off. I want to thank him for his work and wish him the best at Arkansas.
"I have a responsibility to our student-athletes, our football family and our fans, one that I take very seriously. It is my responsibility to ensure that the football program continues at a high level, and I have already started the process of trying to find a new head coach.
"Along with finding a new coach, my other main objective is to make sure that our student-athletes, specifically our seniors playing in their final game as Badgers, have a tremendous experience in the Rose Bowl. We will do everything within our power to make that happen."
In the initial speculation over who steps in to replace Bret Bielema, there's a reason why Charlie Strong isn't on that list.
Arkansas Expats likes the hire of Bret Bielema, surprising as it was.
Bret Bielema's move from Wisconsin to Arkansas is a generally lateral one. He picks up a small raise, moves to a more prestigious conference, enters a recruiting hotbed and takes over at a school with great facilities, but also goes to a place where he's going to struggle to ever win his division, and where he doesn't currently have strong recruiting ties.
There are serious pros and cons to the career switch for him, but USA Today's Dan Wolken made a solid case for Bielema's decision being the right one for his career. I recommend reading the entire article, but here's a solid snippet that helps you get the gist.
Deep down, he had to know it wouldn't go on forever. College football is cyclical. Most programs reach a certain point, level off, then decline and start the cycle all over again. With Michigan back on the rise and Ohio State almost there already under Meyer, this stretch of football was as good as it could get for Wisconsin. Three Rose Bowls in a row may never happen again in the entire history of the school.
This is very, very hard to argue against. While Wisconsin will return a lot of players and likely compete for a solid bowl in 2013, regardless of who takes over as coach, there's no doubt that Bielema's job would have gotten much difficult from next year forward. Ohio State went undefeated in what was supposed to be a transitional year, and is likely to be even more formidable next season. Illinois and the Indiana schools, currently a joke, have nowhere to go but up. Penn State has proven that they can remain competitive, despite the sanctions against them.
At Arkansas, Bielema takes over a program that is straight-up in the dumps. Their facilities and proximity to great recruits means that they have every chance to turn things around, but it's going to be a tough road. He's going to have time to rebuild the program, as vicious as SEC fans can be, and he's going to get a multi-year grace period to build a winning program in his image.
Meanwhile, at Wisconsin, fans were beginning to have their doubts about Bielema before their team's massacre of Nebraska. With Ohio State on the rise, this might have been Bielema's last chance to make a lateral or debatably upward move to a school like Arkansas. Another 7-5 season next year, and his stock goes backwards.
Did Bielema make the right move for his career, even if he had to be disloyal to Wisconsin fans to make it? It's an interesting debate.
Bret Bielema reportedly felt pressure after suffering five losses as the head of the Wisconsin Badgers during the 2012 season, ESPN 760 AM reports. Bielema accepted the vacant head coaching position for the Arkansas Razorbacks on Tuesday.
Jack Daniels is the head coach of Dwyer High School in Palm Beach County, Fla., a school that has been a pipeline for Wisconsin football players during Bielema's tenure. Daniels said he spoke to Bielema on Monday, and found out then that the coach was mulling over a change.
"I talked to him yesterday. He sounded down," said Daniels. "He said he had offers in front of him and had some decision to make."
"He had always said he wanted to retire at Wisconsin, but he took a lot of heat this year (5 losses). I don't think Bret has that kind of skin."
It is unclear from Daniels' quote if he is referring to pressure from the Wisconsin fanbase, or Barry Alvarez and the athletic department. The Badgers were tabbed as favorites to win the conference title by many before the season began. While the team did ultimately make it to a third straight Rose Bowl, they finished third in their division to Penn State and Ohio State, two teams that were ineligible for the postseason.
If Bielema really did feel heat, it could explain why he made what is viewed as a more-or-less lateral move. It is still unclear whether or not Bielema will be coaching the Badgers when they take on the Stanford Cardinal in Pasadena on Jan. 1.
UPDATE, 5:34 pm: GoldandBlack.com, Rivals' Purdue site, sent out this crypitc tweet just a few minutes ago. File that into the FWIW category, I guess.
Hold up on the Darrell Hazell to #Purdue talk.— GoldandBlack.com (@GoldandBlackcom) December 4, 2012
The Wisconsin Badgers job is likely the best available job in college football at the moment, but top coaching candidates are getting snapped up quickly. The timing of Arkansas' hiring of Bret Bielema wasn't great for Wisconsin, considering how quickly the coaching carousel is moving.
Former UW coordinator Dave Doeren departed Northern Illinois for NC State before Bielema left, and Gus Malzahn predictably returned to Auburn after Gene Chizik was fired. There are plenty of decent guys out there (and we'll be writing about a lot of them), but a couple of other top mid-major guys got snapped up by big programs today.
Division rivals Purdue named Kent State coach Darrell Hazell as their head coach today, which is a great pickup for them. He's done a brilliant job with the Golden Flashes and should improve the Boilermakers very quickly. Temple head coach Steve Addazio has a new job as well: He's headed to Boston College.
As some of the big rising names in college coaching get snapped up, the pool of candidates for Wisconsin to pick from gets thinner and thinner. Who do you want to see UW hire?
The Big Ten Network's Rick Pizzo tweets of a possibility for Alvarez to return.
Rick Pizzo of BTN reports that Bret Bielema knew at least two weeks ago that he was leaving Wisconsin. The news obviously just broke on Tuesday afternoon after a seemingly insignificant amount of rumors over the past week or so.
That would seemingly suggest Bielema might've been in play for the jobs at Auburn and Tennessee, though there could obviously be other possibilities.
Bielema reportedly held a team meeting on Sunday to address the rumors, though it's unclear whether he told the team outright that he would be leaving. Either way, Pizzo's source says Bielema was "uncharacteristically emotional" during the meeting.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez reportedly knew Bielema would be leaving prior to the end of the regular season.
Bret Bielema is leaving Wisconsin to be the head coach at Arkansas. Naturally, Twitter reacts.
A whole bunch of reaction coming from around the web...
Left guard Ryan Groy:
Paul Chryst! Paul Chryst!— Ryan Groy (@disGROYer79) December 4, 2012
Aaron Henry, former safety and first-year member of the Oakland Raiders:
Everyone is saying Paul chryst will be the next head coach!!!! It sounds great but I highly doubt it!!!— Aaron Henry (@AaronHenry7) December 4, 2012
I now hope that chris ash is hired as the Head coach at wisconsin!!!— Aaron Henry (@AaronHenry7) December 4, 2012
Nate Tice, former Wisconsin backup quarterback, son of Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice and current graduate assistant at Pitt:
Best of luck to @bretbielema on his new job. He gave me a chance to be a part of some great Wisconsin teams and I am forever grateful.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) December 4, 2012
Patrick Butrym, former Wisconsin defensive tackle and current San Francisco 49er:
Wow. Thought he'd be a lifer at UW. Big congrats tho.— Patrick Butrym (@kickyobutrym95) December 4, 2012
Freshman running back Vonte Jackson:
Rumors were true.— Vonte Jackson (@Vonte_Jackson) December 4, 2012
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ray Ball (also a native of Westerville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus):
Jim tressel maybe?????— ray ball (@raywisc71) December 4, 2012
Bret Bielema reportedly wants to coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl before jetting to Arkansas. Do you support this?
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