A lot of college coaching hires are obvious from a mile away. Auburn deciding to stick with a member of "the family" surprised no one, for example.
But no one expected Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema to go call the Hogs in Fayetteville.
Bielema crowed back in January that "We at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC, in any way, shape, or form." This was in the context of his whining about Urban Meyer daring to recruit players who had already committed to Wisconsin, which Bielema seemed to think was ungentlemanly. He's about to find out exactly how ungentle recruiting can get, and it should be interesting to watch.
While the details of Bielema's deal aren't known as of this writing, there's no way a guy making $2.7 million a year leaves without some dissatisfaction being involved. And that dissatisfaction probably runs both ways. It's easy to forget that Bielema fired his offensive line coach after the first game of the 2012 season, a close shave against Northern Iowa. The Badgers have lost 5 games in 2012, by a total of 19 points, to teams with a combined record of 45-16. That a rough year.
Bielema's 68-24 career record (a .739 winning percentage) looks a lot like Mark Richt's at the same point in his career. And Alabama hired some guy named Saban who had coached at Michigan State, and he's turned out well. Bielema will probably do things much the way those guys have: pro-style offense that runs the ball first and defenses that don't lose the game for you. He's also been known to be kind of a dick/genius on special teams, which we prize in this conference.
Bielema will need to assemble a staff that can recruit not only Arkansas but also Tennessee and Texas. He may also be able to convince some recruits from Missouri and Iowa to come south. But he's going to have a hard time in an SEC West that already includes Alabama, Auburn, and an ascendent Texas A&M. I think he'll do well so long as the notoriously wacky Arkansas fanbase allows him time to get the players he needs, especially up front. His new job does look pretty funny in the context of his past comments. I think Bret Bielema is a guy who'll say stuff people want to hear, which makes him a great fit at Arkansas. They don't do boring there, as Nutt, Petrino, and John L. Smith illustrate. Plus the notion of Bielema and Spurrier getting in pissy snit-offs for the next few years makes this blogger happy.
Welcome to the SEC, Bret. Now win.