On Saturday night my feeling on Bret Bielema was that he was pretty much Jermichael Finley as a coach, he was a lot of talk and no results. As he was boasting about his chance to go to the Rose Bowl again as a team with 5 losses it rubbed me the wrong way, yes he led the team to another Rose Bowl, but with 5 losses is pretty pathetic. I was laughing and pretty much playing it off when a caller called the Sports Exchange and said that Bret Bielema was as good as if not an even better coach than Barry Alveraz. Then all of the sudden yesterday afternoon we got the breaking news that Bret had left Wisconsin to take the head coach job at Arkansas.
When you know that a coaches era is over the first thing I always do is look back at his career as a whole. I do still give Barry Alveraz a lot of credit for where this badger football team is and why they are so successful. Before Barry Alveraz was a coach at Wisconsin they had 2 coaches in the mid 80's until 1990 (Jim Hillis and Don Morton) they had a combined record of 9-36. I don't think I have to tell you what Barry Alveraz did completely turning this program around. Barry Alveraz finished with a record of 118-73-4 which means he won around 60 percent of his games, and that includes the first few years when he took over a bad team. Bret Bielema was hand picked by Alveraz to be his predecessor, he took over a program that was in very good shape. His record with 1 game to go is 68-24 which means he has won about 73 percent of his games. Bielema will finish with a better win percentage than Barry Alveraz and I am guessing 10-20 years down the road people are going to appreciate him and what he did at Wisconsin more than they do right now.
I think the question that most people are asking is why he would leave Wisconsin to go to an Arkansas team that finished with a conference record of 2-6 and near the bottom of the conference. I am sure we will never get a real answer from him on why he chose to leave, we can only speculate. Maybe he is tired of hearing how much better the SEC is than the Big Ten in football, maybe it is because he has done all that he can possibly do at Wisconsin, maybe it is because he knows when Ohio State isn't suspended anymore they will not have a legit chance a the Big Ten title, heck maybe it is just because he likes warm weather. We will never know, all we can do is guess, either way I don't think anyone looks at a move from Wisconsin to Arkansas as a step up.
So the question is, what is next for Wisconsin? The majority of people I have talked to want the badgers to try to get Paul Chryst back from Pittsburgh, or they are wanting another ex-assistant coach to take over. I think now is a perfect time to switch things up, Wisconsin will ALWAYS be a running team, I don't think they should abandon the run and be an offense that focuses mostly on the pass, but I do think that they could bring in a coach that does favor the pass to the run. Maybe he can recruit better at the skill positions and the badgers could either run or pass, I think they are a long way from being Oregon and I don't think they need to be Oregon but if you think about where Barry Alveraz took this program until now the talent they are able to recruit is much better than the talent Alveraz was able to get when he took this program over years ago. Of course there is always the thought process that if it isn't broke don't fix it as well, and 3 consecutive Rose Bowl appearances would mean to me things aren't broken.
Either way it should be a pretty exciting time for Wisconsin football either way if it is out with the old and in with the new, or out with the old and in with the "different" old, either way things should be interesting for this football team.