Arkansas names Bret Bielema new head coach

Bielema says Alvarez to coach Badgers in Rose Bowl
Arkansas names Bret Bielema new head coach

Bret Bielema will earn $3.2 million annually for six years in his new job at Arkansas, which will also pay its new coach’s $1 million buyout to Wisconsin.

Arkansas on Wednesday released its signed letter of agreement with Bielema, which includes another $700,000 in annual incentives.

The Razorbacks hired Bielema on Tuesday, selecting the former Badgers coach to take over a football program that went into a tailspin after former coach Bobby Petrino was fired for hiring his mistress to work in the athletic department.

Bielema is not expected to coach in the Rose Bowl for the Badgers, who are making a third straight trip to the Rose Bowl.

Arkansas introduced Bielema at an afternoon news conference in Fayetteville on Wednesday. At the news conference, Bielema said he thinks Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl against Stanford on Jan. 1.

“Whoever coach Alvarez picks is going to be phenomenal. I think he’s actually coaching the bowl game; I just heard that before I came here, which would be awesome. (We) might finally win one. Everybody tells me he won three. I lost two, so they’ll have a tremendous opportunity in the bowl game,” Bielema said.

Bielema said it was a tough decision to leave Wisconsin but that one of his goals is winning a Southeastern Conference title.


“I just won three in a row at Wisconsin, Big Ten titles, and that has never been done in about 35 years in the conference. At Arkansas, it’s never been done before — we have never won an SEC title. We have been in the game three times, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out if you win the SEC title, you might get to play in the big one, so that is what a dream is all about,” Bielema said.

Alvarez’s hand-picked successor at Wisconsin, Bielema was 68-24 with the Badgers, with four double-digit-win seasons. He coached Wisconsin to a 17-14 victory over Arkansas at the Capital One Bowl in his first season.

“His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans,” Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a statement. “He not only shares the vision and values for the future of Arkansas football, he embraces them.”

He is leaving the Big Ten for the SEC and a Razorbacks program that opened the year with hopes of challenging for a national championship — only to get mired in the Petrino scandal before stumbling to a 4-8 finish.

Bielema seems likely to bring a far different approach than what the Razorbacks have become accustomed to. Arkansas continually ranked among the Southeastern Conference’s best passing teams under Petrino. Bielema, meanwhile, is known for his dominant offensive lines and slew of running backs.

“During my conversation with Jeff (Long), he described the characteristics for the perfect fit to lead this program,” Bielema said in a statement. “It was evident we share the same mission, principles and goals.”

The Illinois native takes over a program still reeling following the Petrino scandal, one eager for stability and leadership.