Bret Bielema is striking out on his own, the Illinois head football coach promising to blend some of his past with a new vision for the program.

Named Illinois’ head coach last month, Bielema comes with recent experience in the NFL with the New England Patriots and most recently the New York Giants. But he has extensive college head coaching experience, most notably his seven seasons at Wisconsin before leaving for an ill-fated stint at Arkansas.

He talked about the vision he’s piecing together with new athletic director Josh Whitman. At Wisconsin, Bielema carried on the tradition of his mentor, Barry Alvarez.

Here at Illinois, the state where he grew up, Bielema says he can blend the old with the new.

“Now to come here to Illinois at 51 and married with two kids and a different perspective on life,” Bielema said on the Big Ten Network.

“I think the part we’ve built here since I came aboard with Josh and the partnership we’re forming is something that can sustain success. There will be things we’ve taken from the past but it’s all about what we’re doing here now.”

Last season, the Illini were 2-6 under then head coach Lovie Smith.