Bret Bielema is leaving the Wisconsin Badgers to take over the program at Arkansas, which is coming off a 4-8 season in the SEC. A press conference has been scheduled for 4:00 Wednesday afternoon in Fayetteville. Bielema met with the Badgers team Tuesday night. We'll hear from them on NewsChannel 7 at 10.
UW Athletic director Barry Alvarez released a statement on Tuesday evening:
"I was very surprised when Bret told me he was taking the offer from Arkansas. He did a great job for us during his seven years as head coach, both on the field and off. I want to thank him for his work and wish him the best at Arkansas.
"I have a responsibility to our student-athletes, our football family and our fans, one that I take very seriously. It is my responsibility to ensure that the football program continues at a high level, and I have already started the process of trying to find a new head coach.
"Along with finding a new coach, my other main objective is to make sure that our student-athletes, specifically our seniors playing in their final game as Badgers, have a tremendous experience in the Rose Bowl. We will do everything within our power to make that happen."
Bielema leaves Wisconsin after winning a 3rd straight Big Ten Championship last weekend against Nebraska and a 3rd straight trip to the Rose Bowl. He leaves with a record of 68-24 in 7 seasons.
In a statement released by the University of Arkansas, Bielema said:
"I am very humbled and honored to become the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks," said Bielema. "During my conversation with Jeff (Long) he described the characteristics for the perfect fit to lead this program. It was evident we share the same mission, principles and goals. The infrastructure in place at Arkansas shows the commitment from the administration to accomplish our goals together and I am excited to begin to lead this group of student-athletes. This program will represent the state of Arkansas in a way Razorback fans everywhere will be proud of."
The search begins for a replacement for Bielema immediately. Running back Montee Ball confirmed after their team meeting that Bielema will not coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
One person who will not be taking the UW job is former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. Chryst said today he understands why he would be linked to the Wisconsin job, but he's dedicated to the Pitt Panthers.