Mike Fiammetta from Wisconsin's SB Nation site took time out to answer some questions regarding his team's former coach, and Razorback Nation's new one. Consider this your first of many crash courses on Bret Bielema.
Despite reports that Bielema would like to coach in the Rose Bowl, it's probably safe to assume that fans of both schools would be against that. Is former coach and current Athletic Director Barry Alvarez a viable option to coach in Pasadena? Or past that, even? How would Badger Nation receive him?
Practicality/rust aside, Badger Nation would be purely ecstatic if Alvarez returned to the sideline. He's UW's most beloved figure, and his role in elevating the program to its current status has never been understated.
Bielema almost assuredly won't be coaching the Rose Bowl, and depending on how quickly the Badgers move, I think Alvarez has to absolutely be considered a candidate to coach the Rose Bowl until he says otherwise. As far as anything beyond that, I'm not quite sure what to expect at this point.
After an eight month search, I thought that every possible available coach had been thoroughly vetted by the Razorback fan base. I. Was. Wrong. Tell us what the Razorbacks are getting in Bret Bielema? Philosophy? Demeanor? Execution?
I would venture the most notable trait the Razorbacks are getting is a coach who has a bona fide ability and reputation of finding diamonds in the rough. Wisconsin never lands a whole bunch of highly touted recruits, and the team's success in spite of that was always a major pride point for our fan base.
As for execution, I would say that is not one of Bielema's strongest points. His great achievements lie in his win-loss record (68-24, .739) and his three straight Rose Bowl losses, though you could point to just about any of Wisconsin's big losses under Bielema and find a glaring lack of clock management. That was always Bielema's bugaboo -- well, and the fact that the Badgers didn't win any of those Rose Bowls under him.
What about Bielema are Badger fans most upset about losing? What about him are they happiest to be rid of?
Badgers fans hardly revered Bielema, so I'm not sure if many are "upset" about today's events. "Completely shocked" would be more apt, considering there seemed to be only the slightest of rumblings of this happening.
That said, as I mentioned above, Badgers fans loved lauding the J.J. Watts and Montee Ball's, all those unheralded recruits that turned into stars at Wisconsin. Player development will be the backbone of Bielema's tenure, at least early on, and it figures to also be his principal source of confidence. Obviously, only he really knows that.
One thing I would pay very close attention is to how Bielema handles the first bit of criticism he'll face. Reports surfaced today regarding his lack of tough skin in facing the critiques of this five-loss season, and you have to wonder how much of that is significant. Bielema is an emotional coach -- an emotional person, really. He generally gives good, thoughtful quotes -- at least, for a football coach -- and has commonly made his affections for players well known.
What staff members would Badger fans be most upset about Bielema taking with him to Fayetteville? Or to put it another way, what members of the Wisconsin staff can Razorback fans hope to welcome to the fold shortly?
Considering Wisconsin lost six assistants in the wake of last year's Rose Bowl and already fired one of them -- offensive line coach Mike Markuson after the Week 2 loss at Oregon State -- I'd say losing anymore would pain this fan base.
That said, Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator and defensive line coach Charlie Partrige is already rumored to be joining Bielema and that would signal a significant recruiting loss for the Badgers.
Safe to say that Bielema's move has shocked both fan bases. What is the initial reaction in Madison? Any inklings of this whatsoever before today?
Barely any, outside of a few message board posts that even stopped at saying he was merely on their list of 10 or so coaches. The initial reaction is widespread shock, but I think most fans aren't necessarily upset by losing him. Many are critical of him not sticking around to actually win a Rose Bowl, and the discussion turned pretty quickly toward forgetting him and targeting his replacement.
What is the general perception of the Arkansas program by Wisconsin fans? Is the move being viewed as a lateral one, or something else?
Money-wise, he obviously gets a raise. But I think most fans are viewing it as a lateral move, considering Arkansas isn't really held in high esteem out here -- no offense, of course. The SEC is the SEC, but that allure's mainly being seen as the biggest reason outside of the $$$ for his departure.
Finally, who are the early names being bandied about to take over as head coach of the Badgers?
Paul Chryst is the name everyone wants, though he did just offer a not-so-concrete statement affirming his commitment to Pitt. Dave Doeren's name has been bandied about, though he just jumped ship at Northern Illinois for N.C. State. I'm sure he could be lured, though.Now that Darrell Hazell's commitment to Purdue is no longer concrete, he's out there too. Otherwise, just a bunch of former UW position coaches that are still without head coaching jobs have had their names thrown about. Basically, the dominoes won't start to fall until Chryst is either hired or absolutely staying at Pitt.