Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema will leave the Badgers to take the recently-vacated head coaching position at Arkansas, according to reports Tuesday from Yahoo Sports and ESPN.
The 42-year-old Bielema would be leaving the only job he’s had as a head coach–he took over the reins in Madison from Barry Alvarez after two seasons as the Badgers’ defensive coordinator. A former nose guard for Iowa, Bielema has an impressive career 68-24 record at Wisconsin, with four seasons with 10 or more victories. The Badgers also secured their third consecutive Rose Bowl bid on Saturday after pummeling Nebraska in the Big Ten Conference championship game.
If confirmed, Bielema’s decision to leave Camp Randall will have a drastic impact on the Badgers’ preparations to face Stanford on New Year’s Day, now less than a month away.
While Arkansas has yet to make an official announcement, the Razorbacks are unlikely to allow Bielema to coach the Badgers in the game, hoping for him to instead hit the recruiting trail hard in the NCAA’s two-week “contact period” for football coaches. The Hogs suffered their way to a 4-8 season under interim coach John Smith after former head coach Bobby Petrino was fired following a scandal involving a mistress who was on his payroll and a motorcycle accident.
Bielema would also likely take several assistant coaches with him to Fayetteville, possibly including associate head coach/defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge, a key to the Badgers’ defensive fronts.
Nevertheless, reports still have Bielema hoping to coach in the Rose Bowl this season, which some say could be a public relations ploy to make Bielema seem loyal with the actual chances he makes his way to Southern California very remote.