Warning: Non-college football fan about to talk about...college football
Local media buzzed this week over the news that the University of Wisconsin football coach, Brett Bielema, is leaving to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Bielema had the ill grace to announce this shortly after the Wisconsin Badgers won their third straight trip to the Rose Bowl. Adding insult to injury, he told Arkansas fans that one of the reasons he decided to accept their offer was the "opportunity to win a championship".
He's won three successive Big Ten conference titles with Wisconsin.
While even I'm aware that winning a national title in the SEC, the ohmygoshweliveanddiebycollegefootball, southerngloryrecapturedinpigskin, mother of all college football conferences is a big, big deal, the attitude displayed by Bielema should be distressing for all football fans.
Good coaches demand commitment, determination and sacrifice from their players. Expectations are high; when players don't meet those expectations, it's up to the coach to handle the situation. The object is to take a disparate group of talented athletes and transform them into a team, a body that works exceptionally well together, supports and complements one another. A cohesive, focused, driven team that can win games.
Yet Bielema is showing a complete lack of concern for the team he's nurtured over the years. The nature of college sports is such that successful coaches change schools often; that Bielema is moving on doesn't surprise me. It's the manner and timing of his leave taking that demonstrates his lack of consideration for the athletes and program that gave him the success that allowed him to make the move to Arkansas.
There is a bright side to the situation. From all indications the team is more determined than ever to go out and beat Stanford, not as a tribute to their old coach, but more as a thumb-to-the-nose gesture to see him on his way. In even better news, Barry Alvarez, current UW athletic director and former UW football coach, has agreed to step in and guide the team in this Rose Bowl.
Alvarez took the Badgers to the Rose Bowl three times, winning three times. Bielema has gone twice before this year, losing both games.
Best of luck to the Badgers; may everything come up roses.