As Bret Bielema Exits, is a Barry Alvarez Encore Coming?

“We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC, in any way, shape or form…”

~ Bret Bielema on the recruiting tactics of Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, early 2012.

Well if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Call Bret Bielema a whiny, cock  hypocrite, but at least he’s smart enough to change his mind while his value is the highest.


With Bret Bielema on his way out at Wisconsin, could Barry Alvarez step back into his old role? (Image credit: AP via Yahoo)

In the wrestling business this would be considered a good old-fashioned heel-turn, with Bielema even shocking the inner-circle of his UW coaching staff. It was a move out of the back of the playbook even more stunning than anything he dialed up on Bo Pelini the other night.

And after the embarrassing episode of Bobby Petrino/mistress/wrecked motorcycle/subsequent firing during the spring, and the nearly as embarrassing tenure of pinch-hit coach John L. Smith during the season, the University of Arkansas was desperate to swing for the fences yet again, nearly five years to the day after stealing Petrino off the Atlanta Falcons during the NFL season.

Arkansas made a bid on LSU’s Les Miles over the weekend but came up short, yet undeterred.

One booster in Fayetteville called his shot Monday to someone in Madison, reportedly saying, “We are going to steal your coach. The sky’s the limit and we’re going to do everything he wants for facilities. This place is going to spend more money than anyone dreamed of.”

When the final numbers come out, it will be by far more than the University of Wisconsin would be willing to sweeten the pot, or should.

The Alabama-based Paul Finebaum radio show billed the Arkansas hiring of Bielema as a “bizarre, but bold” move, although the program was more interested in talking about Auburn’s hiring of Gus Malzahn.

The Finebaum show went on to talk about Bielema and the University of Wisconsin in a disrespectful manner. Finebaum and his producer could not even pronounce Bielema’s name right (he’s only been coaching seven years), and the producer started to muse about Wisconsin supposedly being left in a lurch, then stopped himself saying…Nobody cares,” to which Finebaum replied “That’s why we’re going to break.”

Arkansas is even put on the backburner on the Finebaum show, with the Razorbacks being treated like a backwater Big XII school. The program will even talk more about Ohio State, now considered an honorary elitist SEC program with Urban Meyer at the helm.

The piling on the Big Ten is well deserved. All seven B1G entrants are listed as underdogs in the bowl season. Three entrants will be playing SEC opposition, three will be going up against Big XII foes, and Wisconsin v. Pac-12 Champ Stanford.

Add the explosive Penn State scandal and the conference’s recent money grab of adding Rutgers and Maryland (and in turn the NYC and DC markets) and the pot shots on Big Ten football grow even more.

Smart Move by Bielema

Bret Bielema had said in the past that he had no intentions of leaving Madison, and his family has two houses in the area (his own and his wife whom he married over the summer).

But again, I don’t blame him for the move.

Anyone remember when Jeff Tedford was a candidate to move on to bigger and better things while coaching at Cal a few years back? Well, Tedford stayed, the program regressed, and Tedford just got a pink slip.

Kirk Ferentz at Iowa is fast becoming another example. His name won’t be coming up in NFL circles after the Hawkeyes went badly backwards this season.

In the college football business loyalty is a trait that often proves to backfire.

And then there is the tremendous success Kevin Sumlin has had in just one year at Texas A&M, which will be long forgotten if the team falls back to 6-6/7-5 a few years from now.

Facility-wise, I don’t consider trading Wisconsin’s facilities for Arkansas as an upgrade. I’ve personally seen the digs at Fayettevile, and they are impressive. They have a fantastic, modern looking stadium that is about to be increased from its current capacity of 72,000 and a 80,000 square foot operations center is also under construction. And Fayetteville does have a lovely campus.

That said, I still don’t think it tops Madison. Wisconsin is one of the true marquee universities anywhere and Madison recently named the top college football town in America. And you won’t find a State Street or an Ian’s Pizza or an AJ Bombers on the campus drag in Fayetteville. The only downside is Badgers football on Saturday often takes a back seat to Packers football on the Wisconsin sports pages – a competition that SEC markets don’t have to worry about.

Bielema’s timing is also good considering he has had more than his share of critics about game management and other issues. Stunningly, 67% in a Milwaukee online poll voted that they are actually happy to see Bret leave.

He does have his faults, but also remember his staff has developed talent such as J.J. Watt and Joe Thomas, now both in the early stages of potential NFL Hall of Fame careers. Although not a huge recruiting hot-bed, there has been incredible talent coming out of Madison on Bielema’s watch.

Best case scenario: Bielema hits it big and somehow competes with LSU/Bama/Texas A&M in the SEC West, although he better be ready to recruit ten times better than the guy on the Toyota spot at halftime on Sunday Night Football.

Worst case scenario: Bret falls flat on his face, gets run out of Northwest Arkansas faster than you can say Houston Nutt, still gets paid a handsome sum of money, and then resurfaces somewhere like Illinois, or even Iowa if it becomes available by that time. At age 42, Bielema is still one of the younger members of the coaching fraternity.

Who Will Replace Bielema?

So where does UW go from here, starting with the Rose Bowl game?? Reportedly Bielema wants to coach in it, but that’s not going to happen. Like Bo Schembechler after Michigan’s hoops coach left for supposedly greener pastures before the NCAA Tournament in 1989, Barry Alvarez wants a Wisconsin man on the sidelines that day, not an Arkansas man.

The most intriguing possibility is Barry himself returning to the sideline for that game. That possibility is creating a lot of excitement and buzz from players and fans alike in the social media universe Tuesday night.

There is supposedly already a short-list in play for possible successors, but many scenarios would involve Wisconsin blindsiding another school just like Arkansas AD Jeff Long just blindsided Wisconsin.

Former offensive coordinator and current Pitt Panther head man Paul Chryst is mentioned as the top candidate, but Chryst wasted no time putting out a statement that he is perfectly happy in the Steel City, and the last thing Pitt wants right now is to see another coach use that program as a mere stepping stone to somewhere else after one season.

Former Northern Illinois coach and former defensive coordinator Dave Doreen is another option, but the ink is not even dry on the contract he signed with North Carolina State immediately after winning the MAC Championship with NIU last Friday night. Doreen’s NC State contract is for reportedly south of $2 million per year, but I don’t see him jumping ship back towards Madison less than a week after taking the Wolfpack gig. And incidentally the reported buyout price tag is $3.5 million.

A couple other rising stars on the wish list would be James Franklin at Vanderbilt and Utah State head man Gary Andersen, but both signed contract extensions with their respective schools in recent days, and there appears to be some loyalty between those coaches and their current positions.

With the coaching carousel perhaps already running out of seats, the best candidate to coach Wisconsin football in 2013 may be Barry Alvarez himself. Obviously he would not be a long-term solution, but also consider the highly successful second act of Bill Snyder (now age 73) at Kansas State.

Alvarez could re-assume his coaching position for 1-3 years before finding either his successor in-house or in a future coaching Silly Season. It would be a much better stopgap situation than John L. Smith at Arkansas this year.

At 68-24, Bret Bielema deserves nothing but the highest praise for his tenure at Wisconsin, but Barry Alvarez (even if he remains just as the AD) will make sure the right successor is named to keep the program at a top level nationally.

About Kurt Allen

Have written/blogged about sports since 2000, along with starting my popular Twitter feed in 2009. I also closely follow fantasy sports developments, along with events such as the NFL Draft.


  1. does it yet again! Very thoughtful site and a thought-provoking post. Keep up the good work!

  2. I’m quite gratified with the way that handles this type of subject matter. Generally on point, sometimes polemic, without fail well-researched and more often than not quite thought-provoking.

  3. I’m extremely pleased to uncover this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time
    for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and i
    also have you book marked to look at new stuff in your site.

  4. 9/8/2016 I’m gratified with the way that deals with this sort of subject! Generally on point, sometimes controversial, without fail well-written and thought-provoking.

  5. Wow, incredible blog structure! How lengthy have you ever
    been running a blog for? you make blogging glance easy.

    The total look of your web site is great, as neatly as the content material!

  6. 9/10/2016 In my estimation, does a good job of handling subjects of this kind! Even if sometimes intentionally controversial, the information is generally thoughtful and stimulating.

  7. 9/10/2016 In my opinion, does a great job of dealing with subjects of this sort. While sometimes deliberately polemic, the material posted is more often than not well-written and thought-provoking.

  8. Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which
    blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers
    and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a
    good platform.

  9. Solid, well-researched content. I just passed this on 9/12/2016 to a classmate who’s been involved in a little research of his own on the topic. To show their appreciation, he just bought me a drink! So, I guess I should say: Thank you for the meal!

  10. 9/15/2016 does it again! Very thoughtful site and a thought-provoking post. Thanks!

  11. Solid, well-researched content. I just passed this on 9/15/2016 to a fellow student who has been doing a little research of their own on this topic. To say thank you, he just bought me dinner! So, let me express my gratitude by saying: Thanks for the meal!

  12. 9/19/2016 In my view, does a good job of dealing with subjects of this kind! Even if ofttimes intentionally polemic, the information is in the main well-written and challenging.

  13. I blog often and I seriously thank you for your information. Your article has
    really peaked my interest. I will bookmark your website and keep
    checking for new details about once a week.
    I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

  14. I’m gratified by the manner in which handles this type of topic! Generally on point, often polemic, always well-researched and more often than not quite challenging.

  15. Hey there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My web site looks weird when viewing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to
    resolve this issue. If you have any suggestions,
    please share. Many thanks!

  16. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much
    more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you
    hire out a developer to create your theme?
    Outstanding work!

  17. hA7NCc This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post. Also, I ave shared your site in my social networks!

  18. 10/17/2016 @ 22:54:05 In my opinion, does a excellent job of dealing with subject matter of this kind! While sometimes intentionally polemic, the posts are more often than not well researched and thought-provoking.

  19. In my opinion, does a excellent job of covering topics of this type. Even if often intentionally polemic, the posts are generally thoughtful and thought-provoking.

  20. Kudos for the noteworthy website you’ve set up at Your enthusiastic take on the subject is definitely contagious. Thanks again!

  21. In my estimation, does a great job of covering issues of this kind! While ofttimes deliberately controversial, the material posted is more often than not well researched and thought-provoking.

  22. is good, solid content. I just now sent this on 11/11/2016 to a classmate who’s been doing a little research of their own on this subject. To say thanks, he just bought me a drink! So, I guess I should say: Thanks for the drink!

  23. 11/16/2016 I’m gratified with the way that deals with this kind of issue! Usually on point, sometimes controversial, always well-written and also thought-provoking.

  24. I’m gratified by the manner in which handles this type of issue! Generally on point, often polemic, always well-written and also stimulating.

  25. Hi, just wanted to tell you, I loved this post.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

  26. In my view, does a great job of covering topics of this sort! While sometimes intentionally controversial, the material posted is in the main well researched and stimulating.

  27. Fantastic piece of writing here1

  28. Im impressed. I dont think Ive met anyone who knows as much about this subject as you do. Youre truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. Really, great blog youve got here.

  29. Make sure you let me know if you’re looking for an writer for your site. You have some excellent articles, and I believe that I would be a good asset. If you at any time want to take some of the load off, I’d like to write some content for your web site in exchange for a backlink back to mine. Be sure to shoot me an e mail if interested. Thanks.

  30. May I just say what a comfort to discover somebody who genuinely knows what they’re talking about online.
    You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    A lot more people ought to check this out and understand this side of
    your story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular since you surely have the

  31. Thanks in support of sharing such a nice opinion,
    piece of writing is good, thats why i have read it fully

  32. Hi this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors
    or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise
    so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.

    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  33. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe that
    this site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back
    again to read more, thanks for the advice!

  34. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.

    I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I will certainly return.


  1. […] As Bret Bielema Exits, is a Barry Alvarez Encore Coming?Midwest Sports FansThe Alabama-based Paul Finebaum radio show billed the Arkansas hiring of Bielema as a “bizarre, but bold” move, although the program was more interested in talking about Auburn's hiring of Gus Malzahn. … Wisconsin is one of the true marquee …Arkansas Football: Bret Bielema Can Bring the Defense, What About Recruiting?Bleacher Reportall 1,073 news articles » […]

  2. […] of Arkansas Razorbacks, Bret Bielema." …. Head Coach Bret Bielema (on if he …As Bret Bielema Exits, is a Barry Alvarez Encore Coming?Midwest Sports FansArkansas Football: Bret Bielema Can Bring the Defense, What About […]

Speak Your Mind