Thursday, December 20, 2012

Goodbye Bret

I have been one of the few Bielema defenders over the past several years, at least amongst my friends. Pretty much from the start fans just didn't like him. When he went 12-1 in his first season, finished ranked 5th and 7th in the polls (after being unranked until the 7th week of the season), and won the Capital One Bowl it was because he did it with Alvarez's players. When he followed that up with a 9 win season (5-3 in Conference) it was a disappointment because the team started the year ranked #7 after the 12-1 season. When he went 7-6 in year 3 and almost lost to Cal Poly, people wanted his head. A 10 win season capped with a bowl win didn't seem to buy him much good will in 2009.

After each of the last 3 seasons in which UW has gone to the Rose Bowl I have gloated endlessly over the Bielema haters asking them if UW should fire him now. To my laughter I continually heard them continue hating. He needs to win a Rose Bowl and not just get there they said after TCU. He can't win the big game they said after Oregon. UW can't win a close game and they don't deserve to to be there they said this year.

I honestly don't get it. The media reported about his prickly personality, and locals have told me the guy is an asshole. Who cares? None of the fans I know who called for his firing knew him personally, were upset by his media interviews, or even noticed when he ran up the score against coaches he didn't like. How many successful football coaches aren't assholes?

To the haters who are happy he is gone, I have just a few numbers.

UW has had 8 seasons of 10 or more wins in it's history. Bielema had 4, Alvarez had 4.

While he won't coach in this year's Rose Bowl, he joins only 2 other coaches in Big Ten History to lead their teams to 3 straight Rose Bowls, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler are the others.

That's pretty good company to be in with.

I will miss you Brett. I wish you the best at Arkansas, and thank you for the many joyful wins you helped create over the last 7 seasons. At least until UW gets matched up with Arkansas in a future bowl game. Then you can go fuck yourself.


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  2. I, too, was a Bielema backer. I have no qualms with him as a coach or with the way he ran the program. There is no question is recruited at a higher level than Alvarez, and I felt the Badgers were on the cusp of national relevance. The Tom Oates style rap (that he "can't win the close games") is just sportswriter bullshit, trying to fashion a narrative out of randomness. All a fan can really ask is to be in close games with top programs. The wins and losses are essentially random at that point, and Bielema won some big ones (ahem—two Big Ten championship games—and a romp over #1 Ohio State). So: kudos to a nice run at Wisconsin, Bret.

    But I can't say I wish him luck at Arkansas. He left the Badgers in the lurch after one of their greatest wins, in what should have been a time of celebration. He left them on the brink of disarray before what could have been one of their most anticipated seasons. His abrupt departure puts all of that into question.

    He made this move for personal reasons. I've argued to friends that from a purely rational standpoint the move to Arkansas is absolutely rational. He is guaranteed to make $12.8 million at Arkansas no matter what happens. If he goes 1-11 next year and gets fired, he gets a severance check of of $9.6 million. That is the very definition of a can't-lose proposition. If Bielema falls flat on his face at Arkansas, as many Badger fans are hoping, he can go buy himself an Island, including its indigenous peoples, and live out the rest of his life as Col. Kurtz. Pretty, pretty, good.

    So good for him. But screw him. He's dead to me now.