Bret Bielema, head football coach for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, has been hired to be the next head coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
During his first six years, Bielema posted 60 wins, six bowl appearances, was ranked five times in the final AP Top 25, won two Big Ten titles and two trips to the Rose Bowl.
Bielema, 42, helped extend Wisconsin’s school-record bowl streak to 10 seasons, the second-longest active streak in the Big Ten and tied for the ninth-longest streak in the country.
Bielema’s career winning percentage of .759 (60-19) is the fourth-best in the country among FBS coaches with at least five seasons of experience.
UW’s winning percentage over that span ranks second in the Big Ten and ninth in the country. Wisconsin is also 33-15 (.688) in Big Ten games during Bielema’s tenure. Despite coaching just six seasons, Bielema already ranks third in school history in career victories.
Bielema replaces John L. Smith, who was hired on an interim basis at Arkansas after Bobby Petrino was fired for an inappropriate relationship with a UA employee, and lying about the relationships.
Bielema began his coaching career in 1994 at Iowa as a graduate assistant. He became the Iowa linebackers coach in 1994, then was hired in 202 as the co-defensive coordinator for Kansas State. In 2004 he left Kansas State to be the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. In 2006 he was named the Badgers’ head coach.
Following are highlights, from the Badgers’ website, of his Wisconsin career.
• Fourth-best career winning percentage among active FBS coaches (at least five seasons)
• Ninth-best Big Ten winning percentage in conference history (minimum 45 games)
• Ninth-best record in the country over the last six seasons
• Ranks third on UW’s career victories list
• 2006 Big Ten Coach of the Year
• Led Badgers to a school-record 12 wins in 2006
• Finalist for the Bear Bryant national Coach of the Year award in 2006, 2010 and 2011
• In 2010, led Badgers to 12th Big Ten title and seventh Rose Bowl appearance in school history
• In 2011, led Badgers to 13th Big Ten title and eighth Rose Bowl appearance in school history
• Has been on UW coaching staff for five of eight 10-win seasons in school history
• Led Wisconsin to six bowl appearances in six seasons
• Has coached 10 first-team All-Americans
• 16 Badgers chosen in the NFL draft, including three first-rounders
The following information is also from the UW website.
Bielema was Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator in 2004 and 2005, a period in which the program produced a 19-6 record under former head coach Barry Alvarez. The 2004 Badgers were sixth nationally in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. The 2005 club, which earned Wisconsin’s first shutout since 1999, finished its 10-win season with a 24-10 victory over No. 7 Auburn in the 2006 Capital One Bowl; UW limited the high-powered Tigers to just 236 yards of total offense.
During Bielema’s two years guiding the Badger defense, two players (DE Erasmus James and DB Jim Leonhard) earned first-team All-America honors and two others (DT Anttaj Hawthorne and DB Scott Starks) were first-team All-Big Ten selections. While coaching the Badgers’ linebackers, Bielema developed Mark Zalewski and Dontez Sanders, both of whom earned honorable mention all-conference acclaim.
Bielema was co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State under former head coach Bill Snyder from 2002-03. The Wildcats were 22-6 during Bielema’s time there and finished in the top 10 nationally (in both 2002 and 2003) in scoring and total defense. The Wildcats won their first Big 12 title in 2003. Among Bielema’s standout players at Kansas State were first-team All-American Josh Buhl, 2003 NFL second-round draft pick Terry Pierce and second-team All-Big 12 selection Bryan Hickman.
Prior to his years at Kansas State, Bielema spent nine seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Iowa, where he worked for head coaches Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz. The 1997 Hawkeyes posted three shutouts and ranked No. 4 nationally in scoring defense. Bielema coached Fred Barr (first-team All-Big Ten), Vernon Rollins and Matt Hughes (both honorable mention All-Big Ten) at Iowa.
Bielema earned four letters (1989-92) after joining the Iowa football program as a walk-on. He earned a scholarship after his first year and was a member of Iowa’s 1990 Big Ten championship team. A starter as a junior in 1991, he was a team co-captain as a senior. Bielema signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks and later completed his playing career with the Milwaukee Mustangs of the Arena Football League. Bielema has participated in 10 bowl games as a player or coach.
A 1992 graduate of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Bielema was born in Prophetstown, Ill., on Jan. 13, 1970. He and his wife, Jen, were married in March 2012.