While most of the college football world was stunned over the completely under-the-radar development, there may have been none more so than Bielema’s boss.
Around the same time Arkansas issued a press release confirming the hiring of Bielema, Wisconsin issued a statement from athletic director Barry Alvarez addressing the development that will lead to an unexpected and unanticipated coaching search.
“I was very surprised when Bret told me he was taking the offer from Arkansas,” Alvarez’s statement began. “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.”
Bielema’s departure for Fayetteville comes three days after the Badgers won their second consecutive Big Ten title, sending UW to its third trip to the Rose Bowl in as many years.
While Bielema reportedly wants to coach the Badgers in that game (awkward), speculation is that Alvarez, who became the winningest head coach in UW history before stepping into his current AD role, would essentially take on the roll of coach emeritus for the game. Alvarez was the head coach for three UW Rose Bowl appearances, winning all three; Bielema was the head coach for UW’s last two Rose Bowl losses.
In his statement, Alvarez talked around what tack the athletic department will take when it comes to this year’s Grandaddy of Them All.
“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.”