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:
- Though Bielema has yet to put together a staff, he did say he has a shortlist of about six candidates for his offensive coordinator. Bielema also did not say if he would be taking any current Wisconsin assistant coaches with him. He will meet with his UW staff at 9 a.m. tomorrow, and seemingly take things from there.
- Bielema did appear to take a jab at Wisconsin for not spending enough money to retain his assistants. After the 2012 Rose Bowl, Wisconsin lost six assistant coaches to other positions. "Wisconsin isn't wired to (pay assistants a lot) at this point," Bielema said."
- Regarding Alvarez, UW Athletic Communications issued a press release announcing a press conference with Barry Alvarez tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. CT. There, it's presumed Alvarez will announce his intentions to coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl. Interesting timing on the press release, for sure. Bielema also confirmed he won't be coaching in the Rose Bowl after a reporter asked.
- Bielema on leaving Wisconsin: "First and foremost, I left a great place. I left a place that let me be a coach."
- One interesting thing was how Arkansas and Bielema seemed to put his wife, Jen, front and center during the press conference. Jen was given flowers and welcomed to the podium by Long before Bielema, though she did not say any words. She did take part in 'Woo Pig Sooie,' though. That's only interesting because when Bielema was in Wisconsin, she was barely visible at all. Bielema teared up a bit when referencing Jen as a major motivator in his life and their wedding as a major moment in his life, before cracking, "You shouldn't cry when you're talking about your wedding."
- Referencing some of his previous negative comments about the SEC, Bielema said, ""The comments I made about the SEC a year ago, understand, I was the head coach at the University of Wisconsin."
- On his message to fans regarding this coaching change: ""Embrace it. We're not going to go from A to Z overnight."