Coaching Candidate: Bret Bielema

Tag: Bret Bielema

11Dec 2014
Uncategorized 25 comments

Coaching Candidate: Bret Bielema

Bret Bielema

Bret Bielema
Current position: Arkansas Razorbacks head coach
Salary: $2,950,000 per year
Head coaching experience: 9-15 at Arkansas Razorbacks (2013-2014), 68-24 at Wisconsin Badgers (2006-2012), 77-39 overall
History: Bielema grew up in Illinois and got a scholarship to Iowa as a defensive tackle. After a short playing stint in the Arena Football League, he latched on at Iowa as a graduate assistant and then the linebackers coach from 1996-2001. Kansas State hired him away as a co-defensive coordinator in 2002-2003, and then he was hired by Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez as the defensive coordinator for 2004 and 2005. After Alvarez retired from coaching, he handed over the reins to Bielema. The Badgers continued their string of highly productive running backs, starting with P.J. Hill (1,161+ yards from 2006-2008), John Clay (1,012+ yards from 2009-2010), and Montee Ball (1,830+ yards in 2011-2012). Bielema and Wisconsin had developed a reputation for producing big-time running backs and big-time offensive linemen. In a bit of a surprising move, he took the head coaching job at Arkansas after the 2012 season. The Razorbacks won their first three games of 2013 but then lost nine straight to end the year, and they are 6-6 so far this year with a bowl game against Texas pending. Meanwhile, his teams’ rushing prowess has continued with two 900+ yards rushers in 2013 and two 1,000+ yard rushers this season.
My thoughts: I hate Bret Bielema. “Hate” is a strong word, because he’s not a criminal or anything. But as far as coaches go, he’s a notch below the likes of Bobby Petrino and Mark Dantonio in my book. Bielema is pompous and a little bit slimy, and he comes off like a meathead. All that aside, he appears to be a pretty darn good football coach. His offensive lines have typically been excellent, and his running backs have been outstanding (at least in college); his quarterbacks have been game managers, and his defenses have been solid (#24 in total defense in 2014, #15 his last year at Wisconsin). It’s hard to argue with his success at Wisconsin, and his current Razorbacks program is headed in the right direction. Michigan is built like a Bret Bielema team – there are highly touted offensive linemen used to a pro-style offense, there are between-the-tackles runners in the stable, and there are pocket-style quarterbacks who should be able to manage games if the running component can improve. At the same time, a move from Arkansas to Michigan after only two years would indicate some instability and make me wonder what his long-term goals would be. Would a successful run in Ann Arbor lead to a jump to, say, Alabama or USC or possibly the NFL?
Likelihood of coming to Michigan: Between the lines, Bielema seems like a great fit at Michigan. His current salary is not steep enough to ward off the Wolverines. His personality might not exactly fit, but he’s familiar with the Big Ten and surely recognizes the traditions, rivalries, etc. Arkansas is a step ahead of Michigan when it comes to their current programs, but he has to understand that Michigan’s ceiling is significantly higher. However, unless he views Michigan as a dream job, it would be hard to jump at this point. I do think Bielema should be on Jim Hackett’s list of potential candidates, and probably higher than just about any other reasonable option.

My wish list (updated):
1. Jim Harbaugh
2. Bob Stoops
3. Bret Bielema
4. Dan Mullen
5. Tom Herman
6. Jim Mora, Jr.
7. Les Miles
8. Greg Schiano
9. Pat Narduzzi
10. Mike Shanahan
11. Steve Addazio