Bret Bielema is coming back to the B1G!

Bielema, who was born in Illinois and played at Iowa under legendary head coach Hayden Fry, is returning to Illinois to take over as head coach of the Illini. He is set to replace Lovie Smith who was terminated following Week 8.

He previously served as an assistant at Iowa and Wisconsin before taking over as head coach of the Badgers in 2006. Bielema would spend seven seasons in Madison, guiding Wisconsin to a 68-24 record and two Rose Bowl appearances.


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Now, he’s back in the B1G West. Here’s what Illinois AD Josh Whitman had to say about the hiring Saturday morning via release:

“Bret Bielema is a proven winner. With three Big Ten championships to his credit, few coaches can match his familiarity with, and success within, the Big Ten Conference,” said Whitman. “In our conversations, it became clear to me that he is a life-long learner who is continually looking to grow and improve, and he has enjoyed unrivaled mentorship from some of the game’s most distinguished coaches, including Hayden Fry, Kirk Ferentz, Bill Snyder, Barry Alvarez, and Bill Belichick – all of them current or future Hall of Famers.

“Importantly to me, Bret, a native of our great state, grew up an Illini fan and is committed to seeing the football program at our state’s flagship grow and prosper,” continued Whitman. “Bret’s blue collar work ethic and genuine, authentic manner will allow him to form strong connections to his players and staff and positive relationships in our community and our state. These qualities, combined with his commitment to education and his track record of success, give me great confidence in his leadership of our football program.”

It will be interesting to see how this hiring goes for Illinois.