Bye-Bye Bielema … But Is That A Bad Thing?

December 4, 2012

UW Football

Bret Bielema had a better record, but Barry Alvarez is much more beloved in Badgerland.

Bret Bielema had a better record, but Barry Alvarez is much more beloved in Badgerland.

This Tweet came moments after the news broke that Bret Bielema is bailing on the Badgers for the greener pastures of Arkansas:

This, of course, is demonstrably silly and false – as evidenced by the quick and sarcastic responses to McCalvy’s tweet.

Record-wise, Badgers fans should undoubtedly be sad to see Bielema go. Wisconsin was 68-24 under Bielema – including 37-19 in the Big Ten. In other words, the Badgers won 74 percent of their games and 66 percent of their Big Ten games the last seven seasons. The Badgers went to bowl games in all seven seasons under Bielema, including three Rose Bowls (counting this year’s kinda-sorta gimme*).

Unlike his predecessor, however, Bielema didn’t win a Rose Bowl – and recorded just a 2-4 record in bowl games. But still. That’s a far cry better than the bad old days of Badger football, which went to just six bowl games before 1993.

There’s also the perception that he inherited a program on the ascent from the beloved Barry Alvarez, who coached the long-dormant Badgers to three Rose Bowl wins and an 8-3 bowl record in 16 years. Alvarez’s overall winning percentage was “just” .625 overall and .520 in the Big Ten (though that includes a 1-10, 0-8 first year in Madison).

As an outsider, it seemed to me Bielema was never embraced like the more affable and gregarious Alvarez. Bielema was gruff, dour and comes off as, well, a bit of a doofus. This is captured quite well by the Being Bielema Twitter feed, which is believed to be a parody account (though we wouldn’t swear by it).

His prickly side was on parade in February during his kerfuffle with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer – an episode that saw Alvarez decline to back Bielema.

All of that said, wins – and winning consistently – are hard to come by in college football, and Bret Bielema won with great regularity. All without a whiff of trouble.

So, yes, Badgers fans likely will miss the big goof.

* I agree that the Badgers will play in the Rose Bowl fair and square. They can only play the games in front of them.


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About Tony

Founder of Ball Eight.

View all posts by Tony

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