Bret Bielema and Barry Alvarez added a new chapter to their relationship.
Five years ago, they were partners in crime at Wisconsin. That, of course, went up in smoke in 2012 when Bielema told Alvarez that he was leaving Madison — fresh off a B1G Championship — to take the Arkansas job.
The breakup was well-documented. Between Bielema’s jabs at Wisconsin’s cheap assistant coaching salary pool and reports that Alvarez thought Bielema was “a thug,” there were hurt feelings. The two weren’t on speaking terms after Bielema’s shocking departure.
But now, the two are back to being best friends again.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg documented how the two put their grudge behind them and moved on. Here was an excerpt from Rittenberg’s feature:
It took time and encouragement, mainly from their wives and mutual friends, but Alvarez and Bielema have reconciled. A friendship that both men treasure is in its second act.
“Sometimes you just bury the hatchet and appreciate guys for who they are and remember the great times we had together, and move forward,” Alvarez told ESPN.com last week. “Life’s too short.”
Added Bielema: “It’s like we’ve never missed a beat.”
They began exchanging texts again after Bielema won his first SEC game in 2014. That was apparently the result of their wives urging them to reconnect.
“It goes to show who has the smarter instincts,” Bielema told ESPN.
According to the story, they don’t discuss Bielema’s departure.
Bielema’s departure might still be a sore spot for Badger fans, who are still waiting for their first B1G Championship since he left. Though the team has been to two conference title games in that stretch — Wisconsin has the reigning B1G Coach of the Year in Paul Chryst — while Bielema is just 25-26 at Arkansas.
Rittenberg’s entire story is worth reading for any Wisconsin fan.