Bielema Bolts B1G For Pig Sooie; Charter Flights Added For ‘Cats Fans For Gator Bowl

I’m chalking this up as selfishly, very good news for Northwestern in 2013. Fresh off Wisconsin’s butt-whooping of Nebraska to achieve the extremely rare air of three straight Rose Bowls for the Badgers, Bret Bielema has bolted one of the seemingly more attractive jobs for at best a lateral move to SEC Arkansas. As this story is just breaking, it will be interesting to see just how much money it took to sway the man who went 68-24 in Madtown.  Will Matt Canada, the recently sainted offensive coordinator be next in line? What will it all mean? One thing is sure, there will be a transition factor in place for next year, which is fine by me as I was downright frightened by our 2013 date with Wisky – in Madtown on October 12, 2013 – after seeing the B1G Championship.

We’ll have much more as the pieces of the puzzle settle. Quite a crazy time. One thing is for sure, this is the year that college became “all about the money”.

Gator Bowl Charter Flights From Chicago

Several of you have asked about additional charter flights from Chicago to Jacksonville and back. The ‘Cats travel partner has added charter flight options for individuals. See the info from Anthony Travel below:

A charter air flight from Chicago Midway is now available for   individual sale – this is a standalone option and does not require tour   package purchase.

Travel with fellow Wildcat   fans on this Southwest charter flight, departing on Sunday, Dec. 30, and returning   following the game on Tuesday, Jan. 1.  Specific air transportation   departure and arrival times are still being determined and will be sent via   email by Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012.

Round-trip motor coach   transportation between Jacksonville International Airport and the Hyatt   Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel, located in downtown Jacksonville, is   also included.

Charter air flight price: $840 per person, tax   included.
There are limited to no commercial air options with a similar flight   itinerary.

Please call (888)   632-6951 by 5 p.m. CT TODAY to provide reservation   information.  If the minimum number of seats on the charter is met, the   credit card provided during your reservation will be automatically charged   and you will receive a confirmation email from Anthony Travel by 6 p.m. CT.

If the minimum number of   seats on this charter flight is not met by 5 p.m. ET today, Anthony Travel   will notify you so you can begin making other flight arrangements.

Please note: Flight times   are subject to change and once tickets are booked they are completely   non-refundable. This airfare option is not associated with any travel   packages in any way. Name changes are not permitted after booking.


  • DT

    Ever expanding Big Ten footprint and shrinking perception…

    • zeek

      Fact is only Ohio State and Michigan are offering comparable salaries.

      Bielema was only earning marginally better than Fitz despite going on his 3rd Rose Bowl appearance.

      • DT

        IMHO, more to it than the Benjamin’s… Was always curious to me, why B2 was “The Chosen One” by Alvarez.. Inherited a great situation from The Head Coach turned AD.. Much like Fitz, I think Bielema got the job not so much on what he had done as a coach per se but moreover on his potential and who his backers were… Fitz and BB certainly have bowl futility to some extent in common as well… I read that Wisconsin was going to allow Coach B on the sidelines as he goes for 3 straight “L’s” in Pasadena.. If true, I sure don’t get that… One would hope Alvarez and The plucky Bucky Boosters would put his okole on a plane and send it South tonight..

        Whatever, it does not look good for an also ran SEC team from the State Of Arkansas no less, to pick off the Coach of The Big Ten Champ, albeit with 5 losses…

        • Noah

          What are the motivating factors of a coach’s employment?

          1) loyalty / love of team
          2) ability to make or build something special, a winning organization and influence young men and women
          3) money

          I think Bielema knew that Wisconsin was over-rated. In turn, it meant that he could move at a time when he was relatively overvalued. Wisconsin did not have much room to grow (what comes after 3 consecutive Rose Bowls? especially with OSU and PSU coming back online).

          the draw of rebuilding a solid SEC team was likely attractive, and the money made sense. As for the loyalty…guess that got outmatched.

          as an aside: I think money is the least motivating of the three for many top-tier
          coaches. Fitz seems to give us hope that it is about more than just
          dollars and cents. With that high of a salary, its not necessarily
          material to day-to-day expenses. But everyone wants more for their
          retirement, children, etc. Sometimes, other priorities, like culture, loyalty, lifestyle, family, etc. take precedence over $

          • DT

            You make some good points, Noah… That said, I don’t think to many folks feel Bucky “over-rated”.. While Wisconsin showed signs of its hallmark running game and applicable blocking scheme upfront against Nebraska– fact of the matter, Bielema bought himself a year or two probably with his creative recruiting of Russell Wilson last year– where seemingly B2 aced out Gene Chizik who had some success in that rent a QB mold via one Scam Newton… We know Geno’s fate as well.. Coach B rolled the dice again this year that he could bring in another ACC import with eligibilty, in O’Brien who was a stiff.. Fire the O Line coach, say Canada had the “O” in transition and stop the bleeding that maybe Benema, might have indeed f—-d up future prospects for short term gain.. Starting a fifth year senior with little experience in the Ten Championship and Rose Bowl, and facing rebuilding without Montee Ball? Five losses and a probable Rose Bowl loss for three straight… As Keith Richards said so well, per his Toronto adventures a number of years back.. ‘Walk Before They Make Me Run”…
            One theory..

          • Henry in CT

            Some programs have a money advantage and know how to use it. Texas, the top SEC programs, OSU and Michigan and OK St. with Boone Pickens as a benefactor to name a few and they try to get the best coaches. Arkansas has Walmart headquartered in Bentonville AR. I’m sure that when it came to a new coach for the state university, money was no object.

  • CatAlum06

    Yikes- the longest tenured coach in the Leaders Division is… Kevin Wilson at 2 seasons?!

    • skepticat

      Tied with Jerry Kill, if I’m not mistaken.

      • Webster

        Minnesota is in the Legends.

        • skepticat

          Yup, realized that after I posted it. Isn’t Disqus’s “delete comment” feature ace?

  • Great over/under…Fitz longest tenured by age 40? Another way of asking when does Ferentz go?

    • ACAT

      If Iowa doesn’t go bowling again in the next two years, Ferentz will get pushed out. As crazy as it seems, people down here (I may be the only open NU fan living in Iowa City) are getting restless under Ferentz. They see Iowa as a destination school for football recruits and expect to compete for B1G championships every year.

  • skepticat

    Wow. Not good for the image of the conference. To bolt what’s become a marquee program for the mess that’s become Arkansas football. The Big Ten may have bigger perception issues than it realized.

    But on the plus side, it’s an early Christmas for the UW Chicken Littles that were tired of the “no-prior-head-coaching-experience”, “can’t-win-the-big-one”, “program’s-in-decline”, “coaches-are-abandoning-ship” disappointment that was Bielema. I’m expecting plenty of celebration in the streets of Madison.

    • zeek

      Not good for the image of the conference, but then it’s up to the schools to offer comparable salaries.

      If Fitz had gone to 3 straight Rose Bowls, he’d be earning more at Northwestern than he would at Wisconsin.

      What does that say about Wisconsin? All the tradition in the world doesn’t replace the Benjamins.

      • skepticat

        Don’t know where you’re getting this idea that Bielema was woefully underpaid. Take a gander:

        Bielema’s salary was 5th in the conference and 18th among all coaches, earning almost $1.5 million a year more than Fitz (who’s 9th in the conference, 61st overall).

        Arkansas’s salary in the referenced debase is most likely deflated due to Smith’s temporary status ($850K a year), but if being the 18th best-paid coach in college football isn’t enough to keep you around….

        • zeek

          He’s going to get a 50% raise at Arkansas.

          Fitz’s salary averages out to $1.8 million over the lifetime of its deal; and if it had to be boosted upwards, it would be.

          Wisconsin wasn’t willing to match a near $4 million offer to a guy that just went to 3 straight Rose Bowls…

          • skepticat

            I see what you’re saying. I can certainly imagine all the things I could do with $3.9 million that I couldn’t with $2.6 million. Wisconsin really has egg on their face with that pittance of a salary.

            Plus, imagine how much more that young wife of his will love him when he can come home at night and say “Honey! Your 5th highest-paid knight-in-shining-armour is home!” instead of “Honey! Your 16th highest-paid disappointment is home!”

          • zeek

            My point is just that if you’re running an $80-90 million AD that’s 80% funded by the football team; you either fish or cut bait.

            Look at what we’re doing skepticat; we’re about to shell out $220 million on a practice facilities palace that none of us will ever see the inside of…

          • Chasmo

            Do you really think NU’s money-losing athletic program can afford to pay Fitz $2.5 million or more a year?

            Where will that money come from?

            It’s not as if NU sells out an 80,000+ seat stadium seven times every fall and sells tens of millions of dollars worth of licensed merchandise every year.

            I’m just curious where you thing that money might come from? Larger annual tuition increases?

          • zeek

            Chasmo, those Big Ten paychecks are going to explode over the next decade.

            We got $25 million from Big Ten payouts this year; Maryland leaked the info that it will be up to around $44 million by the end of the decade…

          • Yes, NU will have an increase from about $26.5MM now to $43MMish by 2017, the start of the new to be negotiated ESPN deal by the B1G. Plenty of dough. Also, don’t forget, wealthy alumni base. Don’t kid yourself, with a $7Billion endowment and growing, NU has money and lots of it.

          • skepticat

            “The facility, on the north end of campus, would house an indoor field for intramurals and tracks that students can use on off hours. And it could be the future home of Dance Marathon, one of the world’s largest student-run philanthropies.”

            “A large indoor multipurpose facility will provide room for major events, such as the University’s annual new student convocation; indoor practice and a competition venue for intercollegiate sports; and space for recreation, club sports and intramurals.”

            I get it: cash reigns supreme in the modern age of college football. But even by those standards, Wisconsin wasn’t exactly paying Bielema a pauper’s salary, as could be argued with, say, Purdue.

          • zeek

            Let’s be real here skepticat; if you think that facility is 95% for our athletic department, I’m not sure we’ll see eye to eye on this.

            And that will be even more apparent the next time around when we spend $300 million to completely rebuild the stadium and arena…

          • zeek

            Er, meant if “you don’t think”…

          • skepticat

            Oh no, there’s no doubt the impetus for building the facility is solely to satisfy the athletic department as well as language in Fitz’s contract. Just as there’s no doubt the athletic department will be the ones to predominately benefit from it. But the language used in the announcements and press releases makes it clear the facility isn’t solely for the athletes, but for the benefit of the campus as a whole: students will have access and campus-wide events will be held there. Just like the football stadium is obviously for the use of the football team, yet as a student, one of the groups I was involved with frequently used it for working out and track meets. I imagine “how does this benefit the University besides the football program?” was one of the reasons it took so long to get the project approved by the board of trustees. Course, we’ll have to see how much of that comes to pass, and how much turns out to be PR BS.

  • Scott Feeney

    Good coach, but a prick of a person. Not sorry to see him leave. I noticed him calling for replay reviews against Nebraska when Wisconsin was up by 5 TDs.

    • NUgrad02

      That doesn’t make him a prick…makes him a smart coach. Plus not going for the challenge is worse…it says he has “given up on the game and it is a lost cause…why bother coaching the rest of it, I will just watch and relax since we have a nice lead.” Stranger things have happened in the game of football.

  • Watching and (Mostly) Waiting

    Not only the year it became all about the money, but between Urban Meyer in, the Maryland/Rutgers play, and now the Rose Bowl coach exiting for a payday, I’m sad to see this might be the year we look back on as the point the B10 became “just like everybody else”. I had always felt the B10 was a notch above most other leagues in professionalism, decorum, and especially consistency. If not shattered for good, that notion was certainly badly bruised in 2012.

  • skepticat

    And Gus Malzahn’s back at Auburn just a year after leaving to be head coach at Arkansas State. Wow.

  • DR

    I’m not sure what to think about this. Lots of rumors in Wisco about his bachelor days, he just got married this summer to a younger woman, who by the video interview I’ve seen appears quite nice and genuine, but this interview noted she was currently supervising the construction of The Bielema’s new home in Madison. So he’s building a new place but then bolts? For Arkansas? She has stated that they want to have kids (she’s 27 and he’s early 40s).

    With all that said, Fayetteville is actually a cool town, reminds me a bit of Madison, but not as liberal for sure. But a college town, even more so that Madison.

    You know, Fitz is old school, Bielema never struck me as that. Fitz is NU, Big 10, Chicago, etc. etc. Bielema doesn’t have the same loyalty gene that Fitz has.

    Here’s a long shot….Bielema goes to Arkansas to get his SEC bona fides, Nick Saban wins another championship or two then retires (he’s 61)…….Bielema to Alabama in 2015?

    • DT

      Got it… And upon taking the gig at Bama, he dumps his wife and trades up for Layla Kiffin who is tired of life in The Arena League with Lane by then?

      • DR

        Or he keeps both wives because I think that goes over pretty well down there. And they all have some kids, buy banjos and sit atop bridges playing bluegrass. It could work.

        • DT

          Could indeed….

        • NUgrad02

          Wow…so we’re saying people in the south have multiple wives, play banjos and sit on bridges playing bluegrass….you’re pathetic.

          • DR

            lighten up, it’s a reference to Deliverance, a movie made, apparently, way before your young life began. It’s in jest, or what used to be called satire. Perhaps they removed all of that from discussion when you graced the campus with your angelic presence.

    • Have met Mrs. Bielema before and she’s a very nice woman. Bielema also has a Hawkeye tattooed on his body, presumably one he got above board in his days as a Hawkeye, so not the same comparison loyalty wise.

      • DT

        Hopefully Mrs. Coach B did not get the “W” or worse, Bucky tattooed on her body.. Bigger question LTP, does B2 get the Wild Pig tattoo now to go with The Hawkeye, whom I think is called, “Herky”?

    • Henry in CT

      The SEC is the major league of college football and to truly succeed you have to succeed there. Give Bielema credit for making the grade and taking the money and if he succeeds he will have reached the pinnacle.

      • DT

        Henry, please… While I fully understand the quality of play and subsequent visibility The Southeastern Conference has as a result, I could not disagree with you more about one having to succeed in coaching- that one must indeed coach in the SEC… Many coaches in FBS competition “Succeed” without ever having crossed The Mason- Dixon Line as a Head Coach…

        • Henry in CT

          DT, you have no clue what you are talking about. The SEC is light years better as a conference than the B1G. Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin aren’t even in the top half of the SEC. Only OSU because of Meyer comes close to being on a par with the better SEC programs. And you could add the Big XII and the PAC 12 as two other conferences that the better teams in the B1G except OSU would not be competitive in.

          • Henry in CT

            And BTW what everyone is reacting to is how bad this is for the image of the B1G. I agree and it is deserved. A coach leaves a top B1G program for an also ran SEC program. But look at it from Bielema’s side. He’s lucky they wanted him. His 8-5 team beat a crappy pretender named Nebraska. Big effin deal and now they will probably get smoked in the Rose Bowl by Stanford. Thank god they didn’t have to play Oregon. And what does the future hold at Wisconsin? Probably not much especially with Meyer around. Better to give the SEC a try where if you do win you really will have done something.

          • DT

            Henry, slow down… The issue here is not if the SEC plays better football than The Big Ten but if indeed a coach can be a success having never walked a sideline in Dixie.. If you read my comments, I’ve acknowledged right off the bat it is not good for perception of The Ten to have a coach with tenure and success– leave for an also ran in Arkansas. Further I think you know having read my posts over the last couple years, I’m not swigging Koolaid on behalf of the The Big Ten either.. Frankly, sans Ohio State, I don’t see much difference with the Big Ten and Mountain West.. That said- in all due respect old pal, you are clueless if you truly think the only way to the apex of the college coaching profession is in the SEC..

          • skepticat

            Not so fast there, DT. I’ve no doubt in my mind Brian Kelly, Chip Kelly, David Shaw, heck, even Bob Stoops are all spending their Christmases waiting by the phone hoping Tennessee will call. It’s probably one of the reasons Brian Kelly hates his players so much: he’s gotta deal with coaching substandard, non-SEC talent. And we all know 1 win against an SEC team counts as 2 wins against “normal” ones…. Just think, with a win against MSU, and having already notched one against Vanderbilt, we could be looking at a 12-3 season! Or are those wins against SEC that “don’t count”? I always find it hard to keep it straight….

          • DT

            Right.. I’m sure Chip Kelly is up right now in Eugene waiting for a call from Knoxville.. In fact, he was so impressed with Neland and Smokey the last time Oregon was in there kicking The Vols ass, that he can’t wait to make it his fulltime residence… Heck, he might even hang up the phone on Phil Knight or an NFL owner for that call from whomever The AD is down there who might just be intrepid enough call Chipper who much like UT has a problem named Willie Lyles.. You should have included Chris Petersen on your list.. Chris truly missed the boat or plane in this case, passing on half the schools that comprise The Pride Of Dixie Conference..

            Curious how Knoxville and Fayetteville, etc. seemingly have surpassed Austin, Texas as dream destination for FBS Coaches.. At least those that win championships with five losses and were headed for 3 straight Rose Bowl losses..

          • skepticat

            _Now_ you’re getting the picture. C’mon, say it with me slowly for dramatic effect: S… E… C…… S… E… C……..


          • DT

            I’m sure Jim Mora is sitting at Michael’s Santa Monica or on the way home from Bel Air Country Club with Charlie Daniels fiddlin’ on “The South’s Gonna Do it Again” as well..

            Finally, will you match my pledge of 50 cents to buy Henry in CT. his own Bear Bryant Houndstooth Hat?

          • skepticat

            I’m in! Maybe we can convince LTP to throw another donation link onto the sidebar?

  • cece

    don’t let the door hit you on the way out of the B1G, Bret, you arrogant score running jerk. to those recruits who picked Wisconsin over NU, sorry you made that choice.

    • CM

      I know a RS freshman at Wisco and a 2013 commit to them as well. Will be interested to hear their thoughts…

      • CM

        The RS freshman picked them over NU, no less


      Wow…Are you bitter still about the game two seasons ago where we got our asses kicked by Wisconsin? They didn’t run up the score…They just ran the ball on us and we couldn’t stop it. Our first string, second string, etc couldn’t stop their run. Remember we had Watkins in as QB and the way he ran the O really gave our D a lot of time to rest….think about it. You really should stay in the kitchen where you belong.

      • cece

        kitchen? really? what a sad, cliche sexist comment. obviously you don’t belong on this board.

      • Indylib

        I’m not sure what the comment about the kitchen intends to means. Go ahead and disagree, but that comment seems a little low-brow for an NU alum. Let’s focus on sports here.

  • Jimgocats93

    Too bad he did that now. I wanted to see us kick their asses next year. I think he is the only BIG coach who I actually disliked….well in time I suspect Mr. Meyer will earn that spot.

    Flush it! Brett who?


  • DarkSide

    I am incredulous that Coach Bielema would leave the University of Wisconsin for money as the only factor. It would seem to me that if he wanted to stay in Madison, with his strong body of work, he could likely name a greater salary and likely have it met. The cynic in me suspects there is more to this story. The following are merely points of speculation, not based on any concrete things I have read or heard: 1)Could there be a rift between Coach Bielema and AD Alvarez? 2)Is there a scandal worthy of an NCAA intervention that we will learn of in the next few months? 3)Is there a personal scandal-i.e. another woman(en) in Madison? 4) Does the Coach believe he has hit his ceiling at Wisconsin and there is no way to go any higher in the Big Ten (boy, if that is the case try winning the SEC)? 5)Does Coach Bielema think that an SEC job, even one in the middle of the conference, is that much better than an upper level Big Ten job (one where it would seem he has earned a lot of security)? 6)Is Fayettville that much nicer than Madison (other than the temperature)?
    These are just some of my questions. I am curious to learn of the answers.

    • Wildcats99

      I think the answer is actually quite simple, but it will never be published anywhere. He has a 27 year old hot new wife who has been living in Florida and “commuting” to Wisconsin. With no evidence, I highly suspect she “encouraged” him to take a the higher paying job in a warmer climate closer to Florida (to which she’s accustomed).

  • cece

    beat Nebraska by that big a margin, get into the Rose Bowl on a one game season, time to leave cause that’s as good as it gets. hope the SEC smokes him.

  • Sasser

    Ummm… although his history would suggest otherwise, isn’t anyone concerned that Mick might bolt for Madison? Considering Wisconsin will probably want an offensive-minded coach.
    I don’t think it will happen, considering McCall would more likely get a HC job in Colorado somewhere, but for some reason I have this uneasy feeling…

  • HDB

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see Alvarez take over head coaching job again. Coach salary has gone up a lot since he left position 6 years ago. Moreover, a lot of coaches today have assumed “CEO” position, i.e. hiring offensive and defensive coaches to carry the load instead of doing one of the jobs themselves. Alvarez could see 2-3 years as head coach as a means of obtaining a financial windfall before either going back to AD position or just retiring.

  • frank

    Some people on the networks are talking that Bielama might have decided that his best days in the Big Ten were behind him with the arrival of Urban Meyer.

    They also hinted that he might have been afraid about the prospect of competing and recruiting against Urban Meyer.

    Of course, who’s he going to compete against in the SEC?: Alabama, LSU, Florida, etc.

    • DT

      Bielema’s best days were behind him with the departures of Russell Wilson, JJ Watt and John Clay..

  • JM

    Got into a friendly ball-busting session with a Wisky alum incredulous that any coach would leave such a hallowed program, and he started giving me crap about Arkansas being “like Northwestern.” My reply: “Our coach just turned down Michigan, and yours bolted for Arkansas.” Gotta say, felt pretty good.