The Bielema family has a plan A. But they most definitely have a plan B. Bielema, the third year coach of the Illini, has two brothers named Bart and Barry, a sister named Betsy and another named Brandy. He has his own two daughters named Brianna and Brexley. He worked under Bill Belichick and there was an Arkansas radio guy named Bo who debuted a series entitled, “Being Bret Bielema!”
So, of course, I had to ask…what happened to the other 25 letters in the alphabet? “I’ve always been fascinated with names. When I’m recruiting I always ask players when they’re with their parents how did you come about the name?”
There’s a method behind this bizarre madness. “A name is truly the one thing you’re given in life before you’re born you have no say in but you’re name is the only thing you’re given at birth that costs you nothing but you carry you’re whole life you build value to it.”
Ok, enough of the Bs.
Bielema is starting his third season at Illinois, where last year his team finished 8-4 and went to a bowl game. That’s not enough. “What we have to do is strive to get ourselves better. My first year when we went 5 and 7 I said I didn’t come here to go 5 and 7 and to be quite honest I didn’t come here to go 8 and 5 (they lost the bowl game). But a big step in our program is not necessarily what it takes to win, it’s just the desire to not have failure.”
Failure hasn’t happened very often during Bielema’s career.
He was winningest first year coach in Wisconsin history (11) and also in the Big Ten. After a 5 year stint in Arkansas he spent two with Belichick in New England, where he won a Super Bowl with the Patriots and eventually landed at Illinois where a recent extension to his contract now pays him some Six million annually. A star at Iowa where he worked under Hayden Fry,
Bielema has no intentions of returning. “This was a contract with the intention of ending here. I have two beautiful girls just starting school. This is a great place. It’s surrounded with great people and we’ve able to take tickets sales to the highest they’ve been in twenty years!”
Hear Bret Bielema in his own words on the latest “Tell me a story I don’t know” by clicking play below,
Also stay engaged to all the great podcast content at www.lastwordonsports.com/podcasts