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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bielema leaves Wisconsin for Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — In its second stunning hiring this year, Arkansas tabbed Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema to take over a program that went into a tailspin after former coach Bobby Petrino was fired for hiring his mistress to work in the athletic department.

The Razorbacks released a statement Tuesday night saying Bielema will leave the Badgers after seven seasons. The announcement came minutes after he met with players at Wisconsin, and he’ll be introduced at an afternoon news conference in Fayetteville on Wednesday.

“His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans,” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. “He not only shares the vision and values for the future of Arkansas football, he embraces them.”

A person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information hasn’t been released publicly, says the deal is for six years and $3.2 million annually.

Bielema replaces interim coach John L. Smith, who was hired after Petrino was fired. Long announced after the season that Smith wouldn’t return.

Barry Alvarez’s hand-picked successor at Wisconsin, Bielema was 68-24 with the Badgers, with four double-digit-win seasons. He coached Wisconsin to a 17-14 victory over Arkansas at the Capital One Bowl in his first season.

He 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 Petrino scandal before stumbling to a 4-8 finish. (December 5, 2012, Page 7)

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