Bret Bielema Attracted To Razorbacks By Money Available To Assistant Coaches

by Chris Bahn  on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 9:45 am  

New University of Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema leads a Hog Call at his introductory press conference. He was joined on stage by his wife, Jen. (Photo by Ryan Miller)

Bret Bielema should have been celebrating another Big Ten title at Wisconsin on Saturday night. Bielema and the Badgers had just won their third consecutive championship and the Rose Bowl berth that goes with it.

Instead of enjoying the victory, Bielema was contemplating what was next for his football staff.

In the hours that followed the game, a trio of assistant coaches approached Bielema about exploring opportunities elsewhere. Other schools could offer more money and they wanted to listen.

This wasn’t a unique situation. Figuring out who might leave and who might stick around had become tradition in Bielema’s seven years with Wisconsin.

Bielema, who was hired by the University of Arkansas on Tuesday, replaced six coaches from his 2011 Wisconsin staff. A year before that he had three coaches leave for better opportunities.

So he wasn’t caught off guard when the subject came up again over the weekend. More money was waiting for assistant coaches elsewhere.

“They were talking money that I can’t bring them at Wisconsin,” Bielema said. “Wisconsin isn’t wired to do that at this point. I just felt for me and for my future and my life and what I want to accomplish in the world of college football, I needed to have that ability to do that, and thankfully I’ve found that here at Arkansas.”

Taking the Razorbacks head coaching job was appealing to Bielema for a number of reasons. Being able to adequately compensate his staff — and in theory cut down on turnover — was among the selling points.

Bielema, in fact, took less money on his six-year deal that pays $3.2 million annually in favor of having more salary available for his staff. How much money Bielema will have to spend remains to be seen, but the Razorbacks — one of the more thrifty-spending teams in the Southeastern Conference — can offer far more than what Wisconsin could.

No Comparison

Arkansas paid its assistant coaches $2.3 million in 2011, according to the USA Today coaching salary database, which provides the most recent, comparable comparison of staff salaries. That total ranks middle-of-the-pack in the SEC, but would have put the Razorbacks among Big Ten elite.

Wisconsin paid $1.9 million to its assistant coaches in 2011, a total that put the Badgers among the Big Ten’s big spenders. Only Ohio Sate, Michigan, Nebraska and Illinois paid more.



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