Luke Fickell will not be Michigan State’s next head coach, and so now it seems the Spartans and their search firm (DHR International) are headed back to the drawing board as the hunt for Mark Dantonio‘s replacement enters its second week.
Yup, that Bret Bielema.
Before he failed as the Arkansas head coach and scampered off to the healing anonymity of the NFL, Bielema was a highly successful head coach in the Big Ten. After taking over for a future Hall of Famer in Barry Alvarez, Bielema went 68-24 in seven seasons at Wisconsin, including a 37-19 mark in Big Ten play.
Bielema’s Badgers won 10 or more games four times in his seven seasons (and nine in a fifth season), finished in the AP Top 10 three times and, from 2010-12, won three Big Ten titles and played in the Rose Bowl all three seasons.
Bielema did benefit from Ohio State and Penn State going through periods of transition away from Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno, but it was among the conference’s top programs at that time, a place Michigan State would like to return.
Helping his candidacy: Bielema is exceedingly available. Though he seemed for a time to be a candidate to become the New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator, he rose only to defensive line coach and now works as the outside linebackers coach for the New York Giants.
The Michigan State job would be a massive step up in stature and pay, and he’d likely take the job without haggling much over price. The question then becomes whether Michigan State believes he is the best they can do in this post-Fickell world it now lives.