Bret Bielema discusses Illinois homecoming, outlook for his team during GameDay appearance
Believe it or not, the Illinois job is a sort of homecoming for Bret Bielema.
On Saturday, the Illini announced Bielema as their next head coach, tabbing him to replace Lovie Smith with a six-year contract. Bielema returns to the B1G where he previously coached and led Wisconsin to three conference titles, but that is not the only homecoming happening.
The move brings Bielema back to the state where he was born, something he touched on during a virtual appearance on Saturday’s College GameDay:
“Obviously, grew up in that league, assistant in that league, I was a coordinator, a head coach. It’s actually my home state, a lot of people didn’t realize I was from Illinois and I was actually born in Illini Hospital,” explained Bielema, “So it’s coming full circle for me and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.”
Bielema was also asked about his plans for Illinois, and he said he is hoping to bring similar principles to Champaign that he used to build the Badgers in Madison:
“It’s still going to be based on the same principles of toughness, dependability. We’re going to have tough, dependable players,” said Bielema. “I think the offense will be the biggest transition that people will see. There will be some things that are quite a bit different than we had at Wisconsin, but we still want great line play. We’ll be about controlling the ball and maintaining good game management. But defensively, we’ll be more aggressive. We’ll probably bring a 3-4 style.”
Bielema is also intent on hitting the state of Illinois hard in recruiting to keep prospects at home for the Illini:
“We’re going to recruit the state of Illinois….and bridge the gap between our current roster and our future roster,” explained Bielema.
It will be interesting to see how his tenure plays out at Illinois. For now, the reaction of those around the world of college football has been noticeably mixed.