Precedent Suggests “Big Ten Guy” Bielema Can Succeed in SEC

Why leave Wisconsin, where you’ve gone to three straight Rose Bowls and are the reigning Big 10 champion, for a 4-8 program as Arkansas was in 2012?


Bret Bielema, the new head football coach at Arkansas. (Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images North America via Zimbio)

Think of it this way: You’re Bret Bielema.

You’re forty-two years old, younger than most head college football coaches. You got your first head coaching job at 36, when many coaches are still struggling through assistant coordinator positions. You started at Wisconsin, handpicked by your mentor Barry Alvarez, the greatest coach in Wisconsin history.

You know Wisconsin is going to fire you at the first sign of trouble, so why not leave before you end up damaged goods?

They say you can’t succeed at Arkansas, because you’re from Big 10 country? Because you’ve never recruited the area? Because you’re not an SEC guy?

You check Wikipedia to try to find an “SEC guy.” Yeah, there’s Will Muschamp, and the Ole Ball Coach, and your new buddy Gus Malzahn. They came up in the SEC, went to college in the geographic cluster called the Deep South, and after brief stops in those “other conferences” came home, like their idol the Bear.

Oh, wait.

You want to talk about the big dogs, the coaches currently on top of the SEC Mt. Rushmore? There’s Nick Saban and Les Miles, and that new guy. Kevin Sumlin? You mean that guy who came from HOUSTON? And you’re telling me he played for Purdue, famous for Brian Cardinal?

Saban, yeah he’s been around for a while, he’s the son of Bear right? Has to be, I mean…Hold on, my research says he came from MICHIGAN STATE? And he went to KENT STATE? Don’t they have a good baseball team?

Fine, but Miles, he’s totally an SEC guy, right? Been at LSU for ages, and he had to have played at Georgia or some place like that. No? Michigan? I mean, I know Michigan is good, but there’s no way the SEC hires a Big 10 coach. Stop. He coached the Cowboys? And not the ones from Dallas?

So, if you’re Bret Bielema, you have precedent for why you can succeed in the SEC. You have the SEC defense. You have the run-based offense so prevalent in the SEC like sundresses are to Southern women. You just don’t have believers, like the Reverend Finebaum.

If you’re Bret Bielema, what’s the worst scenario that can happen? You struggle for 2-3 years, get fired, and go back to the Big Ten. You’re forty-five years old. Maybe you take some time off, work for ESPN, or become a dating expert in Vegas. You did, after all, meet your wife at a blackjack table.


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