Bielema named head coach at Arkansas

Posted: December 4, 2012 at 2:06 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2012 at 7:24 p.m.

NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --12/05/2012-- Bret Bielema, the new University of Arkansas head football coach, speaks to the media during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

— After nearly eight months of searching, Arkansas finally has its new football coach.

Bret Bielema accepted the Razorbacks' coaching position Tuesday, ending a 7-year run as head coach at Wisconsin. He will be formally introduced at a 4 p.m. press conference on Wednesday.

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Bielema went 68-24 as coach of the Badgers. His .739 winning percentage is the ninth-highest among active college head coaches who have at least five years experience.

“I am very humbled and honored to become the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks,” Bielema said in a release through the UA. “During my conversation with Jeff (Long) he described the characteristics for the perfect fit to lead this program. It was evident we share the same mission, principles and goals."

Under his tutelage, Wisconsin has won three consecutive Big Ten championships, including a 70-31 win over Nebraska in the league's title game last Saturday.

His teams recorded at least 10 wins four times and will appear in their third consecutive Rose Bowl next month. Bielema is not expected to coach the Badgers (8-5) in the bowl game against Stanford. Wisconsin is 2-4 in bowl games under its former coach, including a 0-2 record in the Rose Bowl.

To conclude the 2006 season, Wisconsin beat Arkansas 17-14 in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The Badgers finished 12-1 that year, their best record under Bielema.

"Coach Bielema has led his team to a historic run of championships while seeing a record number of student-athletes recognized for academic achievement," UA athletics director Jeff Long said in a release. "Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a commitment to competing for a national championship with a program known for discipline, honesty and integrity. His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans."

Bielema, 42, played college football at Iowa and began his assistant coaching career there in 1994. He spent eight seasons with the Hawkeyes before moving to Kansas State as a co-defensive coordinator in 2002.

Bret Bielema Introduced at Arkansas

University of Arkansas athletics director Jeff introduces Bret Bielema as the Razorbacks' new football coach on Wednesday. (By Logan Wilson)
[View Full-Size]

He was hired as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator in 2004 and promoted to head coach following Barry Alvarez' promotion to athletics director in 2006.

"I was very surprised when Bret told me he was taking the offer from Arkansas," Alvarez said in a statement. "He did a great job for us during his seven years as head coach, both on the field and off. I want to thank him for his work and wish him the best at Arkansas."

According to the Associated Press, Bielema's Arkansas contract is for six years and is worth $3.2 million. According to those figures and based on an adjusted USA Today list of college football coaching salaries, Bielema would be the 10th-highest paid coach in the country next year.

Bielema's Wisconsin contract paid him more than $2.6 million per year and ran through 2016. Reports Tuesday indicate his buyout there was $1 million.

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Bobby Petrino, the former Arkansas coach who was fired in April for misconduct, made $3.56 million annually as part of a seven-year contract signed in 2010. His buyout was $18 million for the first two years.

Forbes rated the Razorbacks as the eighth-most profitable college football program last year at a value of more than $89 million, helping the school spend millions on facilities upgrades.

"The infrastructure in place at Arkansas shows the commitment from the administration to accomplish our goals together and I am excited to begin to lead this group of student-athletes," Bielema said. "This program will represent the state of Arkansas in a way Razorback fans everywhere will be proud of.”

Among the additions are a football operations center scheduled to be completed next summer and outdoor practice fields completed earlier this year valued at more than $40 million combined. The university announced earlier this week it will perform a cost analysis to potentially expand its football stadium with a project that could cost as much as $95 million.

Bielema succeeds John L. Smith at the helm of Arkansas' program. Smith signed a short-term contract in April and was reassigned to an administrative position last weekend. The Razorbacks, which combined for 21 wins in the two years prior, finished the 2012 season with a 4-8 record.

'I feel the Earth move under my feet.....'

Posted by: cdawg

December 4, 2012 at 3:44 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Is this a "home run hire" ??

Posted by: Dellmann

December 4, 2012 at 4:20 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

This caught me totally by surprise, but the more I think about it the more I like it. He is a defensive minded coach that has done well in the Big Ten. I feel sure he will attract some of the big midwest farm boys to open up holes on offense and close holes on defense. Add a good "O" coordinator and away we go! Wooooo Pig Sooooiiiieeee!

Posted by: Alabama_Hog

December 4, 2012 at 4:40 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

If you can't get:


Then you take the only one left that you didn't want, but a fairly decent coach. Now all you have to do is sell him as your first choice. Mayby he will be a good a coach as Rick Schaffer is an a play-by-play anouncer.

Posted by: JailBird

December 4, 2012 at 4:52 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

I certainly hope he doesn't coach the Rose Bowl. He needs to hit the ground running, rounding up recruits. But actually he has no recruiting ties of any kind in the south, Texas in particular. I see a big drop off in our recruiting classes until he gets established.

Posted by: Kajon

December 4, 2012 at 9:52 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

They hired a cheese-eater from Wisconsin.

I'm stopping payment on my student loans right now.

Posted by: CaptainQuint

December 5, 2012 at 12:49 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Best of luck to Arkansas fans. Many of us Badger fans and Alumni were wondering if he would be fired if he didn't win the Big Ten Championship game against Nebraska. He is a good coach but he will only get you to a certain level. Many people in the press were calling for his head after some of the poor game management he displayed in the past. Particularly in the three over time losses this season. This along with his propensity to be satisfied with mediocre recruiting classes is a huge frustration to the fans. He finds a few diamonds in the rough but strikes out much more than he succeeds. He will put a solid team on the field and you will be bowl bound every year. However, he is never going to take a team over the top to a BCS Championship. Quite frankly, there seems to be a general feeling of relief around here that he is leaving. It was time for him to go. Best of luck to you and your team.

Posted by: ExBadger

December 5, 2012 at 7:58 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Good post ExBadger. Looking at Arkansas's 2013 schedule you see 3 rent-a-wins at the beginning of the season, Samford, Southern Miss, and Rutgers. Mississippi State in Little Rock is a possible as is Mississippi in Oxford, & Auburn in Fayetteville. 6 possible wins. Tex A&M, Florida in the swamp, South Carolina, Alabama, LSU are loses. 6 and 5

Posted by: JailBird

December 5, 2012 at 11:58 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Talk about a perfect fit for NWA...Bret was raised on a hog farm in Illinois, his recently wedded wife was in real estate business in Florida. Can't you hear Tysons and Lindsey cheering them on!

Plus, the guy's a booger man...

Posted by: cdawg

December 5, 2012 at 1:04 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Are you saying he is coming here for the bacon?

Posted by: JailBird

December 5, 2012 at 1:56 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kind of an eerie likeness.

Just saying.

Posted by: ExBadger

December 5, 2012 at 6:32 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Well there shouldnt be any reason for him to hit on young pretty girls like Petrino did. He is already married to one so this should be far from his mind when making hiring decisions.

Posted by: oldrustynut

December 6, 2012 at 5:11 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Ever notice how his nose looks like a red Nike swoosh?

Posted by: JailBird

December 6, 2012 at 6:44 p.m. ( | suggest removal )