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.