It would seem that after securing your third Big 10 Championship and a third trip to the Rose Bowl in three years, job security wouldn’t be much of a concern. Look a little deeper though and Bret Bielema’s future at Wisconsin didn’t look so bright and a move to the head coaching position at Arkansas was a smart way to fend off the inevitable.
Hidden right behind that 70 to 31 B1G Championship win over Nebraska is an 8-5 record and a 3rd place finish in the leaders division. Add two straight Rose Bowl Losses and things aren’t looking near as good. With a steady stream of assistant coaches leaving for higher paying jobs chances are Bielema realized that this was as good as it may get for a long time. Although he was the hand-picked choice to follow Barry Alveriz into the Athletic Director’s chair as Wisconson, job security might have been on his mind when he decided to flee the Big 10 and a championship season for a sub-par SEC team.
The Urban Factor
It didn’t take long after Urban Meyer’s return to Ohio State for Bielema to start complaining about Meyer’s aggressive recruiting style. Throw Michigan’s Brady Hoke into the mix and suddenly the recruiting scene in the Big Ten is looking a lot like the days of the Woody vs. Bo recruiting wars.
In what should have been a rebuilding year for the Buckeyes, Ohio State’s undefeated season also came as something of a surprise. With only one career win over the Buckeyes as head coach at Wisconsin, the undefeated season along with a top contender spot for the BCS Championshionship in 2012, the insane bias toward SEC teams in the BCS Championship and future B1G championships not to mention BCS Games is looking bleaker and bleaker.
Eventually, Wisconsin’s bowl and B1G championship hopes are bound do diminish and as they do, the fans will not be so kind to Bielema. Sure, his future looked secure now but how many times have we said that about a coach only to see them out a few years down the road. Bielema raised the Badger fan expectations to heights he could not maintain. Better to get out now on his own terms while he’s still a hot commodity.
Compare the situation at Arkansas to that of Wisconsin. Other than the 2011 and 2010 seasons, four, five, six and even seven-loss seasons are the norm. Just getting to a BCS game would be considered a success not to mention the response if Bielema brought the Hogs their first BCS win.
Unlike Wisconsin, the entitlements of the SEC greatly increase Bielema’s odds of making it to a national championship game. If you can start a 4-8 season with a top 10 ranking it’s safe to say you’ve got an advantage in the BCS race. Texas A&M has done a good job at exposing the weaknesses of the SEC and Bielema sees it as ripe picking. It’s not like Arkansas can fall much lower. Remember folks, this is a school that looked to Bobby Petrino as a savior.
When Bielema announces to the Arkansas faithful that he wants to bring them a BCS Championship what’s to lose? That he won’t?
And Job Security
While the salary increase at Arkansas isn’t all that impressive the out clauses are. According to a report on Fox Sports, if Bielema Arkansas will pay Bielema $12.8 million if they fire him in the first three years of the contract. During the 4th year that drops to $9.6 million, $6.4 million in the fifth and $3.2 million in the sixth and final year of the contract. Considering the potential Wisconsin dilemma described above, that’s a pretty good deal.
Although it’s been a lot of fun watching Bielema’s frustrations over the last few years and he’s continued the development of Wisconsin into an effective Ohio State rivalry, as an Iowa born pig farmer you can’t blame him for returning to the hog trough.
Eddie George Comes Home
Following in the footsteps of fellow Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, Eddie George has returned to Ohio State in an official capacity to The Ohio State University. George will serve as an assistant vice president working with a number of outreach programs for the university.
George has never been one to hide his Buckeye loyalty and it’s good to see him on back on the roster at Ohio State.