Arkansas Hires Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema as New Head Coach
In a move that shakes up two power conferences, University of Arkansas officials announced Tuesday evening that Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema had accepted the Razorbacks' head coaching position. Terms of the deal were not announced, but the contract is reportedly a six-year deal worth $3.2 million per year.
The 42-year-old Bielema comes to Arkansas fresh off the Badgers’ 70-31 win over Nebraska to clinch the Wisconsin’s third consecutive Big Ten championship. The Badgers have gone 68-24 in Bielema’s seven seasons in Madison, going to a bowl game each year. He had previously served as defensive coordinator for Wisconsin and Kansas State. Bielema was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2006 and was a finalist for the Bear Bryant national coach of the year award in 2006 and 2011. His coaching style should fit in well in the SEC, as his teams have been led by strong defenses and power-run games.
After being projected as a top 10 team in the preseason, Arkansas has struggled to a 4-8 record this year under interim coach John L. Smith. Smith was brought in after coach Bobby Petrino was fired when it was revealed he had put his mistress on the athletic department payroll.
Bielema was making $2.5 million per year at Wisconsin, but his contract reportedly requires just a $1 million buyout. Wisconsin has not yet announced who will coach the Badgers in their Rose Bowl matchup against Stanford.
Bielema will be officially introduced at a Fayetteville press conference on Wednesday.