Before arriving at Lost Lettermen, among my two most notable bylines were season previews for Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 football teams, written for Sports Illustrated.
I spoke with then-Badgers head coach Bret Bielema over the phone on both occasions. He came across as someone who would be at Wisconsin for the foreseeable future.
After all, he was a man with deep Midwestern roots. A native of Illinois who played at Iowa and then briefly with the AFL’s Milwaukee Mustangs prior to assistant coaching gigs with the Hawkeyes, Kansas State and Wisconsin before taking over in Madison.
What’s more, he was highly successful, going 68–24 and leading Wisconsin to three straight Big Ten titles and subsequent Rose Bowl appearances. So naturally I was taken aback upon hearing on Tuesday that Bielema was leaving for Arkansas — as I’m sure many college football fans were.
Why leave the comforts of Wisconsin (in regards to recent success) for the melodrama of Pig Sooie Nation and the trench warfare of the SEC?