Bret Bielema

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Bret Bielema
2015 Auburn at Arkansas 010.jpg
Bielema departs the field after a 4OT win vs Auburn
Sport(s) Football
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Arkansas
Conference SEC
Record 18–20
Biographical details
Born (1970-01-13) January 13, 1970 (age 46)
Prophetstown, Illinois
Alma mater University of Iowa
Playing career
1989–1992 Iowa
1994 Milwaukee Mustangs
Position(s) Nose guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1994–1995 Iowa (GA)
1996–2001 Iowa (LB)
2002–2003 Kansas State (Co-DC)
2004–2005 Wisconsin (DC)
2006–2012 Wisconsin
2013–present Arkansas
Head coaching record
Overall 86–44
Bowls 4–4
Accomplishments and honors
3 Big Ten (2010–2012)
1 Big Ten Leaders Division (2011)
Big Ten Coach of the Year (2006)

Bret Arnold Bielema (/ˈbləmɑː/; born January 13, 1970) is an American college football coach and current head coach of Arkansas. Bielema previously served as head coach at Wisconsin, a position he held from 2006 to 2012, achieving a 68–24 record.

Assistant coach[edit]

Bielema played college football as a defensive lineman at Iowa under coach Hayden Fry from 1989 to 1992, serving as team captain his senior season. Bielema graduated from Iowa with a bachelor's degree in marketing.

He went on to play for the Milwaukee Mustangs, a team in the Arena Football League.

Bielema then returned to the University of Iowa, serving as an assistant coach from 1993 to 2001. He then became the co-defensive coordinator for Kansas State University from 2002 to 2003. He took the same position at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2004. Barry Alvarez, in his capacity as Wisconsin's athletic director, selected Bielema to succeed him as head coach when he announced his retirement from coaching in 2005.


In his first season as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers in 2006, Bielema's team ended the regular season 11–1 (7–1 in Big Ten Conference play). With a 14–0 victory over the San Diego State on September 16, 2006, Bielema became the third Wisconsin head coach to win the first three games of his career.[1] Later, with a 24–3 win over Purdue on October 21, Bielema tied the record for most wins by a first-year coach at UW with seven. The other two coaches to complete this feat were Philip King in 1896 and William Juneau in 1912.[2] A 30–24 victory over the Fighting Illini on October 28, Bielema became the first coach in Wisconsin history to win eight games in his first season.[3] He then extended the record with his ninth victory on November 4, defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions, 13–3.[4] With a 24–21 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes on November 11, Bielema became the first head coach in Big Ten history to win ten games in his first season.[5] With the 35–3 defeat of the University at Buffalo on November 18, 2006, Bielema became the first coach in UW history to win 11 games in the regular season.[6] After a 17–14 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2007, he became the third coach in NCAA history to win 12 games in his rookie season, finishing 12–1.

Bielema coached Wisconsin to victories in 17 of his first 18 games. That represents the second-best start to a head coaching career in Big Ten history. Only Michigan's Fielding H. Yost, who went 55–0–1 from 1901 to 1905, had a better beginning to a career.

On October 16, 2010, Bielema's Badgers defeated #1-ranked Ohio State, 31–18, in Madison. It was Wisconsin's first victory over a #1-ranked team since 1981 when the Badgers upset Michigan. The victory against the Buckeyes would be his only one as he was 1-5 against Ohio State.

Bielema was named a finalist for the 2010 Bear Bryant Award which is given to college football's Coach of the Year. The other finalists are Chris Ault of Nevada, Gene Chizik of Auburn, Mark Dantonio of Michigan State, Jim Harbaugh of Stanford, Chip Kelly of Oregon, Gary Patterson of TCU, Bobby Petrino of Arkansas and Mike Sherman of Texas A&M.[7]


On December 4, 2012, it was announced that Bielema was leaving Wisconsin to become the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.[8][9] He left partly to play in the Southeastern Conference and partly because he felt that his assistant coaches weren't being paid enough.[10] Bielema replaced John L. Smith, who had coached Arkansas to a 4-8 record during the 2012 season after Bobby Petrino had been fired eight months earlier.[11]

Bielema's first season at Arkansas resulted in an overall record of 3-9, including 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference. It was the Razorbacks' worst SEC mark since entering the league in 1992 and their first winless in-conference season since 1942, when they were a member of the Southwest Conference.[12]

On December 17, 2013, Bielema's defensive line coach, Charlie Partridge, was hired by Florida Atlantic as its new head football coach.[13]

On January 14, 2014, Bielema's defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, was hired by the Ohio State Buckeyes as its new co-defensive coordinator.[14]

Bielema's second season saw him improve on his first season, as Arkansas finished 7-6. Bielema won his first two SEC games in dominating fashion in November, beating #17 LSU 17-0 and #8 Ole Miss 30-0 to achieve bowl eligibility, though Arkansas lost its remaining conference game against Missouri, making the Razorbacks the first unranked team in college football history to shut out two consecutive ranked opponents.

Bielema led Arkansas to a Texas Bowl victory in the postseason, defeating Texas handily, 31-7.

In Bielema's third season, the Razorbacks got off to a slow start, losing to Toledo and Texas Tech in the non-conference and started 2-4 before catching fire in the second half of the season, going 5-1 over the final six games. Bielema ended the year by defeating one of his former mentors, Bill Snyder, in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, as Arkansas dispatched Kansas State, 45-23, to finish the season with a record of 8-5.

Bielema is represented by Neil Cornrich.[15]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten Conference) (2006–2012)
2006 Wisconsin 12–1 7–1 T–2nd W Capital One 5 7
2007 Wisconsin 9–4 5–3 T–4th L Outback 21 24
2008 Wisconsin 7–6 3–5 T–6th L Champs Sports
2009 Wisconsin 10–3 5–3 T–4th W Champs Sports 16 16
2010 Wisconsin 11–2 7–1 T–1st L Rose 8 7
2011 Wisconsin 11–3 6–2 1st (Leaders) L Rose 11 10
2012 Wisconsin 8–5 4–4 3rd (Leaders)* Rose 23‡
Wisconsin: 68–24 37–19 ‡Did not coach bowl game.
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southeastern Conference) (2013–present)
2013 Arkansas 3–9 0–8 7th (Western)
2014 Arkansas 7–6 2–6 7th (Western) W Texas
2015 Arkansas 8–5 5–3 T–3rd (Western) W Liberty
Arkansas: 18–20 7–17
Total: 86–44
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

*Ohio State was the Big Ten Leaders Division champion, but third place Wisconsin represented the division in the Big Ten Championship Game due to the fact that Ohio State and second place Penn State were both ineligible from post-season play by the NCAA.
‡Bielema left for Arkansas before the bowl game and the ranking reflects the team's ranking at the time of Bielema's departure.

Personal life[edit]

Bielema announced on April 1, 2011 that he was engaged to his girlfriend, Jen Hielsberg. They were married March 11, 2012 in Madison.[16][17]

He is the distant cousin of actor Rob Riggle.[citation needed]


External links[edit]