American Football Database
American Football Database
Bret Bielema
Current position
TitleHead coach
Annual salary$3.2 million
Biographical details
Born (1970-01-13) January 13, 1970 (age 51)
Prophetstown, Illinois
Alma materUniversity of Iowa
Playing career
Milwaukee Mustangs
Position(s)Nose guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Iowa (GA)
Iowa (LB)
Kansas State (Co-DC)
Wisconsin (DC)
Head coaching record
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
3 Big Ten (2010–2012)
2 Big Ten Leaders Division (2011-2012)
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 at Arkansas. His hiring was announced on December 4, 2012.[1][2] Bielema previously served as head football coach at Wisconsin, a position he held from 2006 to 2012, achieving a 68–24 record. His 2011 salary of $2.5 million made him the 17th highest paid coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.[3]

Coaching career

Assistant coach

Bielema played college football as a defensive lineman at Iowa under legendary coach Hayden Fry from 1989 to 1992, serving as team captain his senior season. After receiving a scholarship his sophomore year, he got a tattoo of Iowa's Tiger Hawk logo on his left calf, which he still has today.[4] 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 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.[5] 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.

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] He then extended the record with his ninth victory on November 4, defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions, 13–3.[9] 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.[10]

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 1901–1905, 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 Brett Bielema was 1-5 against Ohio State.

Bielema has been named a finalist for the 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.[11]

Bielema is fond of red windbreakers and wears the same one superstitiously every Saturday.[12][not in citation given]


On Tuesday, December 4, 2012, it was announced that Bielema was leaving Wisconsin to become the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.[1][2]

Head coaching record

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)* L Rose 23‡
Wisconsin: 68–24 37–19 ‡Did not coach bowl game.
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southeastern Conference) (2013–present)
2013 Arkansas 0–0 0–0 (West)
Arkansas: 0–0 0–0
Total: 68–24
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #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 banned 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 end of the regular season.

Personal life

Bielema announced on April 1, 2011 that he was engaged to his girlfriend, Jen Hielsberg. They were married March 11, 2012 in Madison.[13][14]


External links