It’s amazing what a chance to coach in the premier league of college football, and a $700,000 raise in annual salary, will convince an honorable man to sacrifice. It would cause him to uproot his family, leave an established system to start anew, say goodbye to friends and players, and apparently turn his back on some principles of integrity that he was so outspoken about just 10 short months ago.
On National Signing Day in February, when Bret Bielema was “set to introduce the newest football class at the University of Wisconsin, he preached about recruiting with dignity and the importance of ignoring the cutthroat mentality of ‘other leagues.’”
Then he dropped the velvet hammer on the “other league,” when he told Sporting News:
“We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC — in any way, shape or form.”
His main beef was with the newly arrived Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who brought some questionable — albeit legal — SEC-style recruiting practices with him to the Big 10.
“There’s a few things that happened early on that I made people be aware of, that I didn’t want to see in this league, that I had seen take place in other leagues,” Bielema said. “Other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices, that are illegal.”
So now, here he is, heading for Fayetteville with a smile on his face, a “yessir” mentality and his morals in his back pocket. He’s not only going to be “like the SEC,” he’s going to pull up a chair and rub elbows with the very ethical deviants he was preaching against. Considering the recent history of head coaches wearing headsets at the University of Arkansas, he’ll be an apt replacement for John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino.
If you want to scrap with the big boys, you have to fight dirty with them, and Bielema will. He just can’t complain about it anymore.