With tremendous momentum heading into the Rose Bowl after a beat down of Nebraska, Bret Bielema's departure is a major speed bump for Wisconsin.
Yesterday, I wrote an article on this site titled: "Pinch me, I'm dreaming." Boy, that same title would be pretty fitting for this article as well.
While we're all still trying to wrap our heads around Bret Bielema's departure, there are mixed emotions surrounding the move. Personally, I feel the timing is extremely unfortunate and is a major loss for Wisconsin. Many UW students I've been around are glad to see Bielema go, as he was not the most well-liked guy on campus and was notoriously known for poor in-game coaching -- particularly with his clock management.
But few of these students realize the major ramifications of such a change. Sure, Bielema was not a great in-game coach, but he brought so much more than that to the table. Bielema perfectly embodied what people wanted in a Wisconsin football coach. He knew how to handle certain situations, lead a team, uphold its image and recruit well. Through the turmoil of this past season -- particularly with coaching changes -- Bielema remained the constant and the glue that kept everything intact.
Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel hits the nail of the head, questioning how UW fans could see this as a positive for the school.
"Are their followers so spoiled by the last two decades of success that they believe it is possible to get someone who can do better than 68 victories in seven years and three consecutive Big Ten championships? Have the expectations become so skewed at a place that will always be at a recruiting disadvantage that those who were unhappy with Bielema are celebrating this occasion?"
One of the most unfortunate parts of Bielema's departure is how he left with unfinished business at hand. Bielema had led the Badgers to three consecutive Big Ten title's, but had failed to win a Rose Bowl up to this point. I believe most people would've preferred to have Bielema not accept a new position until after the Rose Bowl.
With this coming as shocking news to players, coaches, media members and fans, it's the last thing the Badgers wanted to deal with heading into the Rose Bowl. But don't think for a second Wisconsin won't play as well in the it because of this. Remember the players have much more to play for than a head coach. They have their own pride on the line and will play harder than ever for each other, in order to show they could accomplish what Bielema never could.
Bret Bielema shocked everyone by leaving for Arkansas, Tom Mulhern writes.
It'd make for a heck of a storyline, but current AD and former UW head coach Barry Alvarez may coach the team in the Rose Bowl.
Bielema's 'stunning' move leaves many questions surrounding the it, Tom Oates writes.
Some of the UW players react to the Bielema news.
Former Badgers offensive coordinator, Paul Chryst, has been speculated as a primary candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy, but he voiced his commitment to Pitt yesterday.