Bret Bielema named head coach of Illinois Fighting Illini

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Illinois is hiring former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema to steer its soccer program, the varsity introduced Saturday.

Bielema, 50, has spent the previous 3 seasons as an NFL assistant, operating this 12 months for the New York Giants after two years with the New England Patriots. He had expressed passion in returning to the varsity degree and used to be a candidate for openings closing 12 months at each Michigan State and Colorado, and previous on this cycle at Southern Miss, in step with resources.

Bielema will obtain a six-year contract with Illinois with a beginning wage of $4.2 million.

Illinois, which fired coach Lovie Smith closing Sunday, additionally thought to be Buffalo coach Lance Leipold, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, amongst others, to switch Smith, who went 17-39 in 5 seasons on the faculty.

“This is ready an opportunity to take Illinois to a degree — right through my lifetime I’ve noticed them have good fortune, and clearly had some instances the place they have now not had a lot good fortune,” Bielema mentioned Saturday on ESPN’s College GameDay.

Bielema received 3 consecutive Big Ten championships at Wisconsin from 2010 to 2012 and went 68-24 in seven seasons with the Badgers with 5 Top 25 finishes. He left following the 2012 Big Ten championship recreation for Arkansas, the place he went 29-34 ahead of being fired in 2017.

“Illinois and the Big Ten is house for me, and I will be able to’t be to any extent further eager about the chance in entrance of me with the Fighting Illini,” Bielema mentioned in a ready remark. “We wish to construct a program that makes Illini Nation proud and regain the eagerness that I’ve noticed when Illinois wins.”

He grew up in Prophetstown, Illinois, and performed line of defense at Iowa, serving to the Hawkeyes to a percentage of the Big Ten name in 1990 (Illinois additionally shared the championship). Bielema began his training profession at Iowa ahead of transferring to Kansas State after which to Wisconsin, the place he used to be named the successor to Barry Alvarez after the 2005 season.

“Bret Bielema is a confirmed winner,” athletic director Josh Whitman mentioned in a ready remark. “With 3 Big Ten championships to his credit score, few coaches can fit his familiarity with, and good fortune inside, the Big Ten Conference. In our conversations, it become transparent to me that he’s a life-long learner who is constantly having a look to develop and give a boost to.”

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