The fact that the relationship between Bret Bielema and Barry Alvarez remains frayed isn't necessarily surprising, but nearly three years after Bielema's departure from Wisconsin, one would think time had aged this storyline.
Alas, in an interview with Sporting News' Matt Hayes, Bielema said he has not spoken in person to Alvarez since he left the Badgers for the Razorbacks in December 2012. The two, whose mentor-pupil relationship was well known even before Bielema's surprising decision to leave Wisconsin before the 2013 Rose Bowl, did exchange texts after Wisconsin defeated Auburn in last season's Outback Bowl and after the Badgers basketball team reached the Final Four, Bielema said. Their wives, Jen and Cindy, do remain friends and had dinner last week in Chicago, Hayes writes.
But here's the central quote from the interview, which confirms Bielema's connection to Wisconsin isn't entirely a thing of the past:
"There are so many things I miss about him and what we had," Bielema said. "Dinner three or four times a week, the vacations, the jokes and laughs. We have mutual friends that have said we've got to get you guys together."
The rest of Hayes' piece is certainly worth a read, as Bielema disputes the notion he left Madison simply for more money in Fayetteville and that the general perception (at least, in the eyes of Badgers fans) of his departure from Wisconsin is "The only burning thing in my gut, the one scar on my heart that's hard to deal with..."
Down Memory Lane
Down Memory Lane
It would not be surprising, in my opinion, to hear at some point down the road that the two have spoken and mended fences to some degree. After all, while Alvarez's reputation as Wisconsin's athletic director has never been greater following the basketball team's consecutive Final Four runs and last season's bowl win over a renowned SEC program, he was still tasked with hiring another football coach when Gary Andersen bolted for Oregon State. Questions still persist regarding what exactly is going on at Wisconsin that made two successful coaches leave what has long been considered a top college football coaching job for arguably lesser positions.
Meanwhile, Bielema appears to have Arkansas on a solid path after improving from 3-9 to 7-6 in his first two seasons. At Wisconsin -- and every other top-flight college football program, of course -- however, a 7-6 season and middling bowl win wouldn't exactly placate a rabid fanbase.
Point is, both Alvarez and Bielema have room and the desire to improve their respective programs. If both manage to find some level of acceptable success, perhaps they'd finally let bygones be bygones?