FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -

Bret Bielema says he's ready to step right into the ultra-competitive world of the Southeastern Conference.

The former Wisconsin coach was hired by Arkansas this week, bringing to an end to an eight-month search for a long-term coach by athletic director Jeff Long.

Bielema, who left the Badgers after seven seasons, won't coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl game against Stanford. Instead, he'll immediately start recruiting in the SEC, home of the last six national champions.

Given Bielema's background as a defensive coach, the rugged SEC seemed to him like the perfect fit. He says he had no apprehension about joining an already loaded SEC West.