UNDATED (WHBL) - The University of Arkansas will introduce Bret Bielema today as its new football coach. The Wisconsin coach was named last night to replace John L. Smith in what’s been a troubled Razorbacks’ program over the past year. And according to various media reports, nobody at Madison saw it coming. It was only last Friday when Bielema said he was excited about the upcoming bowl game and the players who are coming back next year. But media accounts said Bielema had a long interview with Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long in New York on Monday night. And the coach informed his players about his departure in a short, emotional meeting last night – after the word got out that he was leaving.
In a statement released by Arkansas, Bielema said he was a perfect fit for the Arkansas program – and he and Long appear to share the same principles, goals, and mission. Bielema went 68-24 in seven years at Madison. His teams appeared in bowl games in all seven of those seasons, including three straight Rose Bowls. Former coach Barry Alvarez named Bielema as his successor before Alvarez became the U-W’s athletic director.
Now, there are reports that Alvarez might coach the Badgers in the January first Rose Bowl Game against Stanford. That’s not set yet. Paul Chryst, who ran the Badger offense before leaving for Pittsburgh a year ago, is reportedly the top candidate to replace Bielema. But Chryst says he’s trying to “re-establish” the Panthers and get the team ready for its Compass Bowl game against Mississippi. Bielema will try to pick up the pieces of an Arkansas program that went 4-8 this year, and was rocked earlier this year when former coach Bobby Petrino was fired for hiring his mistress to work in his program.