Info on Bret Bielema Arkansas Razorbacks’ new football coach

Here are some articles that tell us a little about Bret Bielema the new Razorback football coach. Did leave for Arkansas because his grace period was running out at Wisconsin? The second article discusses the style of play that Bielema will bring to Arkansas and it is a positive article that predicts good things for Arkansas’ future.

Why did Bret Bielema leave Wisconsin for Arkansas?

Dan Wolken, USA TODAY SportsShare

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7:06PM EST December 4. 2012 – College football fans and media members (particularly those with Big Ten leanings) were largely shocked Tuesday when Bret Bielema left Wisconsin after seven years to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Not only had Bielema’s name been out of the rumor mill, but there was no obvious personal reason or financial motivation for him to be a candidate anywhere much less at Arkansas.

So why would Bielema, who compiled a 68-24 record at Wisconsin, abandon one of the better jobs in the Big Ten for a middle-of-the-pack job in the SEC? Why would a native of Illinois who played at Iowa and lived his entire life in the Midwest leave his comfort zone for more rugged football territory? And why would he do it now, after clinching Wisconsin’s third straight Rose Bowl berth last Saturday night?

SURPRISE: Arkansas hires Bielema

EVALUATION: How good is the vacant Wisconsin job?

This is a guy, after all, who told the Sporting News earlier this year, “We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC – in any way, shape or form,” in response to the aggressive recruiting tactics. Now he’s going to dive headlong into the snake pit of the SEC West?

But understand this about the coaching business, especially these days: It’s always better to leave a couple years too soon than stay a couple years too long.

Make no mistake, Wisconsin is a good job. But it’s not one of the three best jobs in the Big Ten, and it’s certainly not a place where you should be going to three straight Rose Bowls. Somehow, Bielema pulled it off. And now he’s leaving for a new fan base and a new contract before he had a chance to fall short of the impossibly high standard he just set.


Kentucky: Mark Stoops (formerly at Florida State) replaces Joker Phillips. Mark Zeror, USA TODAY Sports

Auburn: Guz Malzahn (formerly at Arkansas State) replaces Gene Chizik Nelson Chenault, USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas: Bret Bielema (formerly at Wisconsin) replaces John L. Smith. Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports

Boston College: Steve Addazio (formerly at Temple) replaces Frank Spaziani. Gene J. Puskar, AP

Idaho: Paul Petrino (formerly at Arkansas) replaces Rob Akey. Kyle Mills, AP

Georgia State: Trent Miles (formerly at Indiana State) replaces Bill Curry. Bob Poynter, AP
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.

And if the Badgers went five years without winning a title, what do you think would happen? Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that Kirk Ferentz was considered the best coach in the Big Ten, going 31-7 over a three-year stretch. Ferentz had plenty of opportunities to do what Bielema did, but he stayed. Now, after a couple bad years, he’s locked into a contract the school can’t afford to buy out and stuck with a fan base that expects way more than it’s getting.

REPORT CARDS: Grades for every college football team

GOING BOWLING: Complete 2012-13 bowl schedule

It’s uncomfortable, and at a place like Iowa or Wisconsin, probably inevitable. Coaches get too comfortable, fans get bored and the moment churning out an 8-4 or 9-3 season seems like a disappointment, it’s time to get out and start over.

So Bielema played this exactly right. He gave Wisconsin seven years, brought the program to its ceiling and left before bumping his head on it. Now he’s got a new challenge at a school with plenty of resources and a fan base that will unite behind him. It’s a fresh start, and a lucrative one at that. In a sport where a coach can get fired two years after winning a national title, that’s never a bad thing.


Bret Bielema brings tough, grinding style to Arkansas

Published 15 hours and 27 minutes ago Last updated 5 hours and 39 minutes ago
Steve Greenberg Sporting News


Arkansas gets a head coach who isn’t shy about talking big—and who has some serious accomplishments to back it up.

Bret Bielema is 68-24 (37-19 in the Big Ten) in seven seasons as a head coach, all at Wisconsin. The Badgers are bound for their third consecutive Rose Bowl. Even with the asterisk, that’s a pretty big deal.

How Bielema has done it—and the clues that gives about how he’ll go about his new job in Fayetteville—is what’s most interesting today.

Part by necessity and part by design, the foundation of Bielema’s program in Madison was always “unsexy” players.

“We’re not going to appeal to the sexy,” he told Sporting News in 2011. “If a kid’s looking for bells and whistles, wants a weight room that looks like a club, we’re not the place. … We work, we grind, and we take pride in doing that. The kids who want that have gravitated to us.”

Razorbacks fans may read that and say: That’s not going to be good enough here.

Undoubtedly, the 42-year-old Bielema will aim for higher-ranked recruits than he typically went after at Wisconsin. But he is who he is. Bielema is, if you’ll pardon the term, unsexy.

A former University of Iowa defensive lineman from a tiny town in Illinois near the Iowa border, Bielema is a grinder and looks the part.

Bret Bielema, right, and Gus Malzahn will take up residence in the SEC next season. (AP Photo)

He loves players who remind him of himself. At Iowa, he worked his way up from little-known recruit to team captain as a senior. He gave the Arena League a shot after college.

He played for Hayden Fry and worked for Fry, Bill Snyder and Barry Alvarez. That should give Hogs fans an idea of what they’re getting.

This is no charmer like Houston Nutt or mad scientist like Bobby Petrino.

This is Joe Sixpack, with a booming baritone and a cocky edge.

He’ll go right at Nick Saban and Les Miles, not to mention Kevin Sumlin. He may lack polish in certain areas as a head coach—late-game clock management has been an issue—but he won’t be intimidated. Bielema is confident to the core.

“I get mad when I’m sitting there in an airport and I see what’s new in college football and there’s 10 teams listed and we’re not one of them—and I know we can beat them, or a lot of them,” Bielema told SN last year in reference to the superpower programs.

It’s fair—and, frankly, foolish not to—speculate about whether or not his recruiting at Arkansas will be good enough to compete with the monsters of the SEC.

But Bielema definitely will restore an identity to the Razorbacks. Lots of power runs. Lots of weight-room warriors. Lots of toughness.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long could’ve done a whole lot worse.

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