RandBall: breaks down Bielema's "fall from coaching grace"

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • February 25, 2014 - 4:43 PM

Bret Bielema, who fell from grace with former Gophers coach Tim Brewster many years ago, is apparently doing so throughout the rest of college football -- at least according to a new piece on -- since leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas.

Some of the highlights:

Fourteen humbling months later, Bielema's reputation has taken a considerable hit. While some rebuilding was expected on the heels of Arkansas' 2012 season -- a season it spent in limbo under interim coach John L. Smith, who took over for the disgraced Bobby Petrino -- the Razorbacks went 3-9 last fall and endured their first winless conference campaign since 1942. On consecutive weeks in mid-October, they lost to South Carolina 52-7, and to Alabama 52-0.

With Lane Kiffin now muzzled as a member of Nick Saban's staff at Alabama, Bielema is well on his way to replacing him as college football's most reviled figure.

Bielema's current arc is reminiscent of another previously successful coach whose stock plummeted upon moving to a new conference. Michigan's Rich Rodriguez went 3-9 in his first season in Ann Arbor in 2008, and while the Wolverines improved each year thereafter, he could never shake that nightmarish initial impression. Rodriguez's ugly divorce from West Virginia -- followed by an NCAA investigation into practice-hour violations -- did not help his cause.

The piece also makes the case that Wisconsin padded its reputation under Bielema by beating up the dregs of the Big Ten (including the Gophers). He's also apparently not particularly liked by at least one NFL agent.

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