Bret Bielema’s first two seasons as head football coach at Wisconsin were an unqualified success. During his first two years, Wisconsin was 21-5. Only two other men in Big Ten history — Michigan’s Fielding Yost (22) and Ohio State’s Jim Tressel (21) — have guided their teams to as many as 21 wins in their first two seasons as Big Ten head coaches.
Bielema guided the Badgers to a 12-1 overall record and 7-1 mark in the Big Ten (good for a second-place tie with Michigan) during his rookie year in 2006. Wisconsin capped that record-setting season with a 17-14 win over Arkansas in the 2007 Capital One Bowl. No previous Wisconsin team had won more than 11 games in a season. In addition, Bielema became just the third rookie head coach in NCAA Bowl Subdivision history to pilot his team to 12 victories.
In 2008, Wisconsin had high expectations which were not met. However, Bielema is still 28-10 in his first three years at Wisconsin which is not bad. The Badgers lost four in a row in 2008 before winning their last three games of the season.
Prior to being named the head coach, Bielema was Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator in 2004 and 2005, a period in which the program produced a 19-6 record under former head coach Barry Alvarez. The 2004 Badgers were sixth nationally in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. The 2005 club, which earned Wisconsin’s first shutout since 1999, finished its 10-win season with a 24-10 victory over No. 7 Auburn in the 2006 Capital One Bowl.
The thirty-eight year old Bielema is the fourth-youngest head coach in NCAA Bowl Subdivision football.
Friday, December 26, 2008
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