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.