Momentum is building for Bret Bielema to return to the Big Ten Conference.
The former University of Wisconsin football coach is reportedly interested in the vacant head coaching job at Michigan State, and the Spartans may call on him after their top choices have turned them down.
Bielema, 50, coached UW to a 68-24 record, including 37-19 in the Big Ten, from 2006 to '12. He left the program to take the job as head coach at Arkansas, where he went 29-34 before being fired near the end of the 2017 season.
Bielema worked for the NFL’s New England Patriots as a consultant in 2018 and a defensive line coach in 2019 before taking a job as the outside linebackers coach for the New York Giants.
When with UW, Bielema led the Badgers to three consecutive Big Ten championships (2010 to '12) and three straight Rose Bowl appearances.
The Detroit News reported Monday that Bielema has interest in the job and that Michigan State administrators had been in contact with him.
Former Spartans’ coach Mark Dantonio resigned last week after 13 seasons with the program. Dantonio compiled a 114-57 record at Michigan State, including three Big Ten Championships and a berth in the College Football Playoff in 2015. However, the Spartans are 27-24 since that run to the CFP and rumors are swirling that NCAA sanctions stemming from rules violations are forthcoming.
Should Michigan State hire Bielema, he wouldn’t be its first, second, third or fourth choice.
The Spartans first turned to Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, but he pulled his name from the running. Former Michigan State defensive coordinator, current Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi and Colorado coach Mel Tucker also dropped out. Robert Saleh, the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, declined an interview request.
Outside of a Big Ten Championship Game, the next time UW will play Michigan State is during the 2022 season, Oct. 8 in East Lansing, Michigan.
College football: The rise and fall of Bret Bielema
Take a look back at the highs and lows of the college coaching career of former Wisconsin Badgers head football coach Bret Bielema.