Bielema will take charge of reel­ing Ra­zor­backs

Former Wis­con­sin coach likely to fo­cus on power foot­ball.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Bret Bielema went 6824 in seven sea­sons at Wis­con­sin.

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. — Bret Bielema is tak­ing his brand of power foot­ball to Arkansas, leav­ing Wis­con­sin af­ter seven sea­sons.

Arkansas re­leased a state­ment Tues­day night say­ing Bielema has agreed to a deal to take over the pro­gram reel­ing fol­low­ing the fir­ing of former coach Bobby Petrino.

A per­son fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the in­for­ma­tion hasn’t been re­leased pub­licly, says the deal is for six years and $3.2 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

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

“His tough, ag­gres­sive style of play has been suc­cess­ful and will be ap­peal­ing to stu­den­tath­letes 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.”

Bielema is leav­ing the Big Ten for the SEC and a 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.

The move was the sec­ond stun­ning hire this year at Arkansas, which brought in John L. Smith as the in­terim coach af­ter fir­ing Petrino for hir­ing his mis­tress to work in the ath­letic de­part­ment. Long an­nounced af­ter the sea­son that Smith wouldn’t re­turn.

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

“Dur­ing my con­versa- tion 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.”

Wis­con­sin run­ning back Mon­tee Ball tied Barry San­ders’ sin­gle­sea­son record of 39 touch­downs last year, and this year be­came the FBS ca­reer leader in touch­downs. He cur­rently has 82 touch­downs af­ter run­ning for three Satur­day night in the Big Ten ti­tle game against Ne­braska — a 70-31 romp that se­cured the Badgers’ third straight trip to the Rose Bowl, where they will play Stan­ford on Jan. 1.

Bielema, 42, was the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Wis­con­sin for two years be­fore be­ing pro­moted to head coach in 2006. He played for Iowa and started his coach­ing ca­reer there as an as­sis­tant un­der Hay­den Fry and later Kirk Fer­entz.

“I was very sur­prised when Bret told me he was tak­ing the of­fer from Arkansas,” said Al­varez, Wis­con­sin’s ath­letic di­rec­tor and former coach. “He did a great job for us dur­ing his seven years as head coach, both on the field and off.”

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