The Norman Transcript

National Sports

December 5, 2012

Arkansas lures Bielema away from Wisconsin

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is taking his brand of power football to Arkansas.

Bielema has agreed to become the new coach of the Razorbacks, according to a person familiar with the situation that was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

The person, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the school had not announced the hire, said a news conference was planned for Wednesday. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long tweeted that an announcement was planned Tuesday evening.

“He’s the guy Jeff was after all along,” the person said of Long. “It’s hard to get these coaches to sit still.”

Another person familiar with the situation said Bielema’s deal is for six years, paying $3.2 million annually.

Bielema is leaving the Big Ten for the SEC and a Razorbacks program that opened the year with hopes of challenging for a national championship only to get mired in the Bobby Petrino scandal before stumbling to a 4-8 finish.

The move was the second stunning hire this year at Arkansas, which brought in John L. Smith as the interim coach after firing Petrino for hiring his mistress to work in the athletic department.

Bielema seems likely to bring a far different approach than what the Razorbacks have become accustomed to. Arkansas continually ranked among the Southeastern Conference’s best passing teams under Petrino while Bielema is known for his dominant offensive lines and slew of running backs.

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball tied Barry Sanders’ long-standing single-season record of 39 touchdowns last year, and this year became the all-time FBS leader in touchdowns. He currently has 82 touchdowns after running for three in Saturday’s Big Ten title game against Nebraska — a 70-31 romp that secured the Badgers third straight trip to the Rose Bowl, where they will play Stanford on Jan. 1.

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