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Rapid Reactions: Illinois Hires Bert as Next HC

The darkest timeline has found its eclipse.

We were so close. 2020 ends in just 12 days. The most chaotic year in anyone’s lifetime, the anguish, the struggle, the grief. For better or worse everything seemed pretty sewn up and documented for the year. So as you try to mellow out and bring this season to a close NOPE BERT BOMB!

Bret Bielema shakes the football world.

Your savior has arrived!

After Illinois fired Lovie Smith for his five season, 17-39 overall campaign with the Illini, they have turned to Bret Bielema to right the ship. What does this mean for the conference, the sport, and the bars in Chambana? We offer our first impressions:

What is your initial reaction to the hire?

Thumpasaurus: I knew it’d be Bert when I realized he had the best potential to have Illinois be roundly mocked by everyone in the college football media sphere. I just didn’t realize they’d also put up money that could have gotten Dave Clawson or maybe Gus Malzahn.

BigRedTwice: #KARMA

(I guess?)

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Best bad hire Illinois could make.

Beezer: He will be the best coach Illinois has had in a while and will have moderate success there. He’s not gonna win the division but he’ll have a good defense and win some games and make a bowl or two. And do hilarious embarrassing stuff and I can’t wait.

Also it’ll be nice for Iowa fans(?) to have another team’s success to claim.

StewMonkey13: Looks like they’re doing an opposite thing. And Bert is about as far away as can be, personality-wise, from Lovie as possible. But I kinda love Bert, he’s a big dumb doofus who happens to be a pretty decent football coach. I like the way WSR put it. Best bad hire they could make.

Jesse Collins: Sure, why not. There are worse hires out there. Better too, but definitely significantly worse.

MC ClapYoHandz: If you just fired Lovie Smith I don’t know how this changes much for your program besides way more abrasive press conference potential. Are we banking on some Bill Belichick magic to rub off here? There were better options on the table and it seems like too quick of a turnaround to assume they all said no.

Can BERT win at Illinois?

Thump: No. He’ll stumble into the Pinstripe Bowl in year 3 or 4 and then fall on his ass within two years of that season and we’ll be right back where we started. This was the only way it was ever going to be.

BigRedTwice: I’m not sure he’ll be overly successful at Illinois, but I’m not necessarily counting him out. The B1G West isn’t exactly murderers’ row, but he also should have had more success at Arkansas than he did.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: I mean, sure. He’ll win about 5-6 times a year with non conference games and Purdue and Nebraska.

Stew: He’ll raise the floor a bit, and bring Illinois to multiple (MULTIPLE!!) bowl games.

Jesse: Uh, define win. I see the “lolol Purdue and Nebraska are awful” Minnesota Golden Gophers hubris is still out there when uh, well, how did they do to stay consistently good (we’re the same damn team and you’ll like it).

Anyhow, I dunno, if win is, “do better than Lovie” I guess there’s a chance. There are problems bigger than the coach at Illinois it seems. Fix the infrastructure and maybe.

Thump: The problems bigger than the coach = an AD that throws a $4.2M salary at Bret fucking Bielema.

MC: Compared to Lovie, the ceiling for Bert is marginally higher at best in my opinion. He’s going try to play the same brand of ball as Wisconsin and Iowa without the same program success/stability or resources. It’s becoming more clear as their careers progress that the #1 reason for Bielema’s success at Wisconsin was having Chryst as his OC, and Chryst doesn’t even coach offense like Chryst anymore, so good luck.

What’s the spiciest thing that he’ll bring to the conference?

Thump: Remember when he complained about Gus Malzahn’s offense being unfair to his defense? Excited for him to bring that energy to this conference.

BigRedTwice: I’m not sure BERT can properly be called “spicy,” as he’s essentially mayonnaise in human form, but we have now added to the pantheon of young-ish, arrogant, dudebro coaches in the Big Ten, so that is something.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Jen’s Twitter account.

Stew: I can’t imagine he’s gonna get along with Fleck or Frost. So that’ll be interesting.


MC: BRT and Stew nailed it. This is a different B1G than the one Bert left, and he is an unknown entity to the new wave. How his relationships develop with guys like Frost and Fleck will be fascinating, as well as any existing bad blood with lifers like Fitzgerald. His first game back in Camp Randall might be interesting too.

How long does he last?

Thump: Our AD has already shown the willingness to give coaches one more chance than they deserve, so we’ll ride around for 5 or 6 years.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: 5 years.

Stew: I’ll go 6 years or 7 years.

Jesse: Probably 5, but a non-Pinstripe bowl (is the Belk Bowl still a thing?) probably extends that to 6.

MC: I’ll be risky and bet on 3 years. I think the ceiling is 5 just like Lovie but I’m going to gamble on something weird off the field happening or something. It’s 2020, we can still lock it in.

What is your reaction to the hire? Let us know in the comments!


How do you think Illinois did with their search?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Great hire!
    (49 votes)
  • 28%
    LOL what are you thinking?
    (107 votes)
  • 58%
    The right move for memes and therefore good
    (223 votes)
379 votes total Vote Now