Former University of Iowa linebacker Bret Bielema was tabbed Thursday to become the successor to Barry Alvarez as the head football coach at Wisconsin when Alvarez steps down after the 2005 season. Alvarez is staying on as the Badger Athletic Director and hand-picked Bielema as his replacement.
Bielema joined Alvarez’s staff last year as the defensive coordinator, coming over from Kansas State. Bielema says he never lost to Alvarez as a player, but he says as a coach he did. Bielema says he’s eager to take over. He says he’s seen first hand what it takes to win. He says hard work is one of the keys that makes Wisconsin special. Bielema spent nine seasons as an assistant at Iowa, then two at Kansas State before joining the Wisconsin staff. Bielema is only 35-years-old, but says that won’t matter. He says age isn’t a factor, success has been the factor in every job he’s gotten. Bielema says every head coach he worked for said he’d be doing this some day.
Bielema was a four-year letterwinner at Iowa after joining the Hawkeye football program as a walk-on. A member of Iowa’s 1990 Big Ten champion team, he was a starter as a junior in 1991 and helped the Hawkeyes to a 10-1-1 record, fifth place national ranking and a Holiday Bowl appearance. He was a team co-captain as a senior in 1992. Bielema is also remembered for a confrontation with former Iowa State University head coach Jim Walden after an Iowa victory over the Cyclones. Bielema told Walden he enjoyed beating Iowa State every year. Bielema is a native of Prophetstown, Illinois.