Bret Bielema is a douchebag.
There, I said it.
And yet, I think I'm going to miss him as head coach at Wisconsin.
I never really denied Bielema's douchiness. Every time that he was mentioned, I always flinched a little bit. I was in an odd position as a Wisconsin fan. I couldn't really defend some of what he did - I mean, the whole card said to go for 2 was kind of a dick move. And putting up more points on Indiana than the basketball team was capable of? Yeah, about that. Then, of course, there was the whole just... bro-iness of the man. I mean, I live near Wrigleyville in Chicago and yet pathologically avoid its bars exactly so I can have as little to do with that type of individual as possible.
But... well... Bret may have been a bro, but he was our bro. Our brah. Our broseph. Our head broach. (Okay, so I ran out of ideas on that last one...)
And the fact is, he doesn't leave a terrible legacy behind. I mean, it really could have been worse, couldn't it? Three Rose Bowls in as many years? Three conference championships? (Lalala I can't hear you OSU/PSU/MSU fans). It'd be the height of ungratefulness for me to be saying good riddance right about now.
Under Bret Bielema, we had a 68-24 record. We upset OSU when they were the No. 1 team in the country. We became a legitimate powerhouse in the conference. One of our running backs set the NCAA record in rushing touchdowns. After Barry Alvarez and Brett Bielema, I got used to the idea that Wisconsin would be a good football team, year in and year out. And as any longtime Badgers fan will tell you, that's saying something.
There are some, of course, who will point out the downsides. While this year is still undetermined, Bielema's record in the Rose Bowl is a dismal 0-2. And it's true that while Wisconsin has excelled at recruiting and developing running back and offensive line talent, complete recruiting classes have still eluded the program (see: quarterbacks). And maybe it is the case that with OSU off of sanctions next year the Badgers will have that much more difficult have a time getting a conference championship again.
Still... I don't know. Bielema's departure is a loss for the team. I would rather have him as our head coach than not. I'm not really sure that his departure is a black eye for the program, given how much more money he's going to get by going to Arkansas (I don't think that I could turn down a 50% raise if I got offered it...), but it's not good either. It is lucky that we have Barry Alvarez as our AD, since I have complete confidence in his ability to hire a good candidate. And who knows, maybe Wisconsin will end up with a great hire and this will all be much ado about nothing in a few years...
But, sigh, I can't deny it... I am a little bro-ken hearted tonight.