In an eight-month coaching search filled with speculation about home run hires, Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long has delivered a shot very few saw coming.
Wisconsin's Bret Bielema is expected to be named coach at Arkansas.
Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema has agreed to become head coach of the Razorbacks. Hawgs247 first reported the hire at about 2 p.m. Central on Tuesday, and the UA sent out a press release at 6:15 p.m. confirming it.
“I am very humbled and honored to become the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks,” Bielema said in the press release. “During my conversation with Jeff, he described the characteristics for the perfect fit to lead this program. It was evident we share the same mission, principles and goals. The infrastructure in place at Arkansas shows the commitment from the administration to accomplish our goals together and I am excited to begin to lead this group of student-athletes. This program will represent the state of Arkansas in a way Razorback fans everywhere will be proud of.”
A formal press conference to announce the hire will be held Wednesday at 4 p.m. Central at the Broyles Center.
Bielema, 42, has helped Wisconsin earn three straight Rose Bowl bids, compiling a 68-24 record in seven seasons as head coach. The Badgers have won at least 10 games four times under Bielema and have had three seasons in which they’ve finished in the Top 10 of The Associated Press poll.
His current team is 8-5 and coming off a 70-31 win over Nebraska on Saturday in the Big Ten ChampionshipGame. The Badgers will face BCS No. 6 Stanford on Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl.
“Bret Bielema is an exceptional leader of young men and an outstanding football coach who has proven his program is centered on establishing an unshakable foundation that emphasizes the development of each student-athlete as an individual,” Long said. "Coach Bielema has led his team to a historic run of championships while seeing a record number of student-athletes recognized for academic achievement.
"Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a commitment to competing for a national championship with a program known for discipline, honesty and integrity. His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans. He not only shares the vision and values for the future of Arkansas football, he embraces them.”
Bielema, a Prophetstown, Ill., native, played and coached at Iowa before moving on to Kansas State in 2002, where he spent two seasons as Bill Snyder’s defensive coordinator. He was Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator in 2004-2005 before becoming head coach.