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Hogs’ Bielema Compares SEC To Big Ten (And Forces UW To Change Contract Language In Future)

New Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema was asked Friday on ESPN Radio if it was fair to say he left Wisconsin for Fayetteville in order to put himself in a better conference.  His reply:


“I played in the Big Ten and enjoyed every opportunity that I had there as a player, an assistant coach, a coordinator, and a head coach, but I get what you’re saying and that’s one of the main reasons I came here was… when we go to playoff system in 2014 and to know you can be a one-loss team and you’re not even in the championship game in the SEC (but) you very well might be in the consideration (for) those four (playoff) teams, that’s very intriguing.

And I’ve just never been able to have the resources I’ve been given here at Arkansas to hire a group of assistant coaches.  I’ve lost a lot of really good coaches at Wisconsin.  And it was just getting very frustrating for us.  There’s some contractual things I was frustrated with and the opportunity to come here and have them open the doors with open arms… and the fanbase here is insanity!  Bigger than I could ever imagine and it’s just really an exciting time…

(The Big Ten) is a great, great league and everything that goes into it, but on the flipside of it the SEC… we’re building a new facility here at Arkansas that is off the charts.  It is just gonna open so many doors in recruiting.  I’ve been blown away the last two nights talking to kids on the phone recruiting that are gonna open some doors that I just didn’t see out there for us in their avenues.”


Bielema also revealed that he had “some conversations with Tennessee” before accepting the Arkansas job.  Clearly, as we stated last week, Bielema was ready to get out of Barry Alvarez’s shadow in Madison.

The ex-coach and current Badger AD said on Sirius/XM Radio Friday that he didn’t hear a word from Bielema until last Tuesday when the coach told him he’d already cut a deal with the Razorbacks.  As a result, Alvarez now plans to put a clause in the contract of Wisconsin’s next coach which will force that person to contact the AD before starting talks with any other program.

The site fires a zinger in Bielema’s direction for his handling of the situation with his old boss:


“One would think that common decency and respect — ‘Hey, boss, I’m looking at other options’ — would be understood instead of having to be part of some type of contractual agreement.  Thanks to the Bielemas of the coaching world, respect will continue to be an endangered species.”


In fairness to Bielema, only he and Alvarez know what their relationship was really like.  Obviously the two men view the situation differently.  Maybe there’s a good reason Bielema didn’t give the man who’d made him head coach at Wisconsin a heads-up.  That said, fair or not, Bielema’s handling of the situation appears to have been poor.  At least from the outside looking in.

But you can bet no one in the state of Arkansas is too worried about their new coach’s lack of etiquette on his way out the door at Wisconsin.


DanHogan 1 Like

From the other side of this, the B1G needs to start paying its coordinators more.  (I'm a B1G guy..)  That seems to have been problem #1 at Wisconsin.  I'm sick of seeing B1G coordinators take a head coaching job at an ACC school and see it as a step up.  That needs to be seen as a lateral move.

Southern Gentleman
Southern Gentleman 1 Like

I believe that it was reported somewhere that in his letter to Jeff Long back in September, Coach B indicated his interest in coaching the Razorbacks. That being said, there is no loyalty anymore. Gus Malzahn said he was not going to be a "one and done" when he came to arkansas state. Butch jones at cincy to the Vols, how many more? How about barry alvarez saying that he had spoken to another coach within 5 minutes of Coach B telling him he was going to Arkansas. Barry alvarez didn't follow his protocol by talking with that coach without contacting that coach's AD then. It is a "dog eat dog" world out there. It appears college coaching is just part of it.

DavidTrussell 1 Like

 @Southern Gentleman   Coach Bielema's note of encouragement to Jeff Long said nothing about interest in the job. The handwritten note is readily available on the internet..  Coach Bielema's sends handwritten notes to old colleagues all the time.

SEC fan
SEC fan 1 Like

 @Southern Gentleman

 Well, actually no it's not always that way.  This is what Cincy AD, Whit Babcock had to say about Tennessee's AD, Dave Hart, after Butch Jones's hire:


Babcock laid out the details of Tennessee’s rapid courtship of Jones in a candid press conference this morning in Cincinnati. Jones will be introduced as Tennessee’s head coach later today.

Babcock said no fewer than five BCS schools attempted to talk to Jones. But Tennessee’s approach was different.

"Dave Hart called me in advance, and he was the only AD to do that,” Babcock said. “That is a lost etiquette...Dave Hart is a gentleman. He was first class.”


Southern Gentleman
Southern Gentleman 1 Like

 @SEC fan  @Southern Gentleman

 "No fewer than 5  BCS schools" Ok. Let's leave it at 5 but probably more. So, only 20% of the AD's attempted to contact Babcock. Again, my point is still valid.

Southern Gentleman
Southern Gentleman 1 Like

 @SEC fan  @Southern Gentleman

 I am NOT going to get in a contest with you over this issue. However, I'll take Jeff Long any day over what Tennessee has experienced with their AD these past few years.

SEC fan
SEC fan 1 Like

 @Southern Gentleman

 Glad Tennessee is in the "honorable 20%" guess we know where Long, Petrino, etc.. were even before this episode.

SEC fan
SEC fan 1 Like

Actually it is also customary and honorable for an AD interested in a coach first contacting the AD at that coach's institution to ask permission to speak with that employee.  However, obviously Long did not feel the need to take the high road with this hire.  Guess Petrino's ethics "rubbed off" on him too.

WNCVol 1 Like

Who tells their current boss that "I'm looking at other options" without a firm offer of another job in hand?  No one I know.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator 1 Like



Actually most coaches let their present boss know if they're contacted by another school.  That's why the Bielema and Tuberville stories are getting such play in the national media... because they didn't follow traditional "protocol."  


Thanks for reading the site,


GeoffDawg 1 Like

@WNCVol True but I think the point here is that he’d already accepted the Arkansas gig when he gave his initial notification to Alvarez. Normally, I would think that if you have 2 or 3 days to mull over an offer, that’d be sufficient time to contact your current AD and give them a chance to respond.


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