With Bret Bielema bolting for the Natural State, BadgerNation looks at some more of the candidates…
What are they saying about Bielema?
CLAY HENRY, Hawgs Illustrated: What would the late Wilson Matthews say about Bret Bielema as Arkansas football coach? I'm guessing, "Bring it on." Matthews would love defense, a running game, solid kicking and a disciplined team that avoids penalties. An old linebacker coach would love this tough, former linebacker coach. Just for the young folks, Matthews coached my high school alma mater -- Little Rock Central -- and was the toughest and perhaps one of the best of the many great Frank Broyles assistants. DUDLEY DAWSON, Hawgs Illustrated: Like everybody else, I think this hire came out of left field and I think Jeff Long would probably make a good choice as the new boss at the CIA. But I consider it a great hire because going in I thought Arkansas needed to hire a proven winner with a body of work and not take a gamble on a coordinator or a one-year wonder. He is a proven winner and will bring back toughness and leadership to a program that obviously missed that this past season. HARRY KING, Arkansas News: Here's what I know about Arkansas' new coach: he's only 42, but he's been Wisconsin's head coach for seven years. His record is 68-24, including three straight 10-win seasons, and the Badgers are on their way to their third straight Rose Bowl. He has won in Madison in a conference dominated by Michigan and Ohio State for years and he has a reputation for relying on the running game. He was a defensive coordinator for two years before becoming head coach. Proven winner, pro-style offense, defensive background. Sign me up. BO MATTINGLY, Sports Talk With Bo, Fayetteville: Bielema is a fit at Arkansas because he has shown he can win without top recruiting classes. Traditionally Arkansas has been better in the recruiting rankings than Wisconsin, primarily because of location. He will get better players at Arkansas. He is one of 12 active coaches to have led a team to at least three BCS bowl games. He will take Arkansas to a BCS game. Bielema's teams are good on both sides of the ball. Two of the last three years they have been ranked in the top 25 in both scoring defense and offense. That's the recipe for making big time bowls. RON HIGGINS, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Colossal kudos to Jeff Long. No search firm in America could have come up with a more perfect coach for Arkansas from the most unlikely of places. You couldn't have put the following qualifications in a computer to spit out the ideal hire: 1. Worked on his family's hog farm. 2. Loves power running game football, the building block of SEC championship teams. 3. Gets his team to BCS bowl games -- three straight Rose Bowls. JIMMY DYKES, ESPN, Fayetteville: The formula to winning championships in the SEC is no secret. Physical football, built upon a power run game, road grader sized offensive linemen, a balanced passing game based on smart quarterbacks that don't beat themself, and a bruising style of defense. That is exactly who Bret Bielema is, and Jeff Long was outstanding in identifying and targeting the one elite coach outside the SEC that fits that mold. He has a bulldog edge to him that will go right at Saban, Miles, and Sumlin both in recruiting and how he coaches. Every coach in the Big 10 will be happy Bielema is out of that league, and that is a great gauge on how good the hire is. This hire was done quickly,quietly, and with integrity. Why should any Razorback fan expect anything less from Jeff Long? With all of the major job openings this season, Jeff Long just made THE hire in all of college football. TOMMY CRAFT, Pearson Broadcasting, Ft. Smith: Bielema has the everything on a resume' other than a national championship you could want in the a new head coach. Let's see if his style can adapt to the speed of the SEC while still playing power defense and developing great tailbacks as he did at Wisconsin. Jeff Long proves once again that he can run a professional search and keep a candidate's name in the shadows. This has to give any candidate for any future job at Arkansas confidence when talking to Long. JIMMY TRAMEL, Tulsa World: From a pop culture standpoint, Stan Lee would have loved the Bret Bielema hire. Stan created so many fictional characters that he gave them all the same first and last initials so he could remember their names when he had to write stories about them -- Reed Richards, Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock. BB falls right into that category. From a sports standpoint, I'm sure Arkansas wanted to hit a home run with the hire and I can't swear it was that. It seems more like solid contact was made -- the guy did great work at Wisconsin -- but we'll need time to go to a video review in order to determine if it was this side or that side of the pole. Stay tuned. JOHN COOPER, former Ohio State coach, Columbus, Ohio: Bret's got three Rose Bowls in three years, what else do you need to know? I've been asked what's wrong with the Big 10, they need better coaches and players. Bret was one of our best. It's a great hire for Arkansas. I'm not sure he can over power LSU and Alabama the way he did most of the teams in our league, but he knows how to win football games. I was surprised he moved, but it's probably good for Bret and for Arkansas. I understand he's been there seven years and you can stay somewhere too long. After awhile, they take you for granted. He's very, very good. KIRK McNAIR, Bama Magazine, Tuscaloosa: When I heard it, my first thought was "great fit for Arkansas." And the more I thought about how Wisconsin plays, I thought "great fit for SEC West." I think he'll do an excellent job. BARRY SWITZER, former Oklahoma coach, Arkansas alum: The first thing I heard today was that he grew up on a pig farm. That's quite a start in my book. And my last memory was watching him hang 70 on Nebraska. Just those two facts are enough. Then, I hear that he's out of the Hayden Fry-Bill Snyder-Barry Alvarez coaching tree. Oh, that's enough for me to like a lot. Then, I hear he's got a 27-year-old wife. Okay, we can stop. I like him. SCOTT KENNEDY, Recruiting Analyst, Fox Sports NEXT, Los Angeles: I think Arkansas fans are going to relate well to new coach Brett Bielema. There are only a handful of teams in the BCS conferences who consistently outperform their recruiting rankings, Arkansas and Wisconsin have historically been two of those teams. Wisconsin doesn't go into Ohio and Michigan and beat the Buckeyes and Wolverines for players any more than Arkansas has gone into Alabama and Louisiana and out recruited the Tide and Tigers for players. But year in and year out, Wisconsin and Arkansas are competitive with the teams on the field that they might not be as competitive with off of it. Wisconsin's track record of developing running backs and offensive linemen will play well in the SEC, and Bielema will find more good athletes in the deep south that he can develop than he was able to recruit at Wisconsin. The competition in recruiting is cutthroat in the South, but the talent pool available is much, much deeper.
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