Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema, fresh off leading the Badgers to a third straight Rose Bowl trip, was named to the same position at Arkansas on Tuesday.
Bielema leaves Wisconsin off a 70-31 shellacking of Nebraska in Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game that earned the Badgers a third consecutive conference title. The 42-year-old amassed a 68-24 record in seven seasons at the school, including an 8-5 mark this year, and the Badgers finished in the top 10 in the Associated Press final poll three times under his direction.
"Bret Bielema is an exceptional leader of young men and an outstanding football coach who has proven his program is centered on establishing an unshakable foundation that emphasizes the development of each student-athlete as an individual," said Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long. "Coach Bielema has led his team to a historic run of championships while seeing a record number of student-athletes recognized for academic achievement. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a commitment to competing for a national championship with a program known for discipline, honesty and integrity. His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans. He not only shares the vision and values for the future of Arkansas football, he embraces them."
Bielema replaced the retiring Barry Alvarez as Wisconsin's head coach in 2006 after serving the previous two years as the Badgers' defensive coordinator. In his first season in charge, Wisconsin went 12-1 and earned a No. 7 overall national ranking following a win in the Capital One Bowl, where the Badgers bested his future employer in Arkansas.
Wisconsin put together an 11-1 regular season and captured the Big Ten in 2010, and were ranked seventh in the final poll despite falling to TCU in the Rose Bowl. The Badgers went 11-3 last season and downed Michigan State in the conference title game to earn a second straight trip to Pasadena, where the team dropped a 45-38 decision to Oregon.
It is not yet known if Bielema will coach Wisconsin against Stanford in the upcoming Rose Bowl, or if he will immediately begin attempting to restore an Arkansas program reeling from a disappointing 2012 season.
The Razorbacks entered the campaign with high expectations even after the administration fired head coach Bobby Petrino in April following the revelation of an extramarital affair with a former Razorbacks volleyball player he hired to work in the athletic department.
Arkansas began the season ranked 10th nationally, but managed just a 4-8 record under replacement John L. Smith and went 2-6 in SEC play. The university announced Smith would not return following the conclusion of the season.