That is why there were two shocks Tuesday -- first, the news that Bielema is leaving for Arkansas. The fit seems odd, and we really don't see how it gets him any closer to success. It had to be ego-driven (I can win anywhere, even the SEC) and money-driven, and Bielema presumably has no shortage of either. But the second shock is that we found the "good riddance" sentiment not just coming from Gophers fans glad to have a disliked and successful rival coach out of the way, but also from Badgers fans.
Almost universally -- whether they were comments on stories or conversations with fans -- we found Wisconsin fans carrying a "don't let the door hit you on the way out" mentality when it comes to Bielema's departure.
Maybe it's his 0-2 record in Rose Bowls. Maybe fans never connected with him the same way they connected with Alvarez. Maybe it's some curious in-game decision-making at times.
Whatever it is, Badgers fans, we will tell you this: Unless this is a facade, you really need to be careful what you wish for. Bielema might not have been perfect, but from where we sit he was a pretty effective coach. And sometimes when you lose pretty good and assume you will upgrade to great, you find out just how nice pretty good felt.
On a lesser scale, Gophers fans can tell you exactly how it felt. Six years ago, Glen Mason was fired after a modest run of success that never resulted in getting over the proverbial hump. That season, Minnesota was 6-6 in the regular season and faced Texas Tech in a bowl game -- exactly where it is now after many more lows than highs.
The Badgers have certainly built their program to a higher point than Mason ever did, but the point sticks. Enjoy these Rose Bowls, Wisconsin, and the man who took you there. It might be a really long time until you go again.