FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas' eight-month long coaching search ends with a hire described by many as unexpected, but also the right choice.
The school late Tuesday named Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema as the new head coach of the . He replaces John L. Smith, who led the Hogs during only the 2012 season.
"I am very humbled and honored to become the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks,” said Bielema. "During my conversation with Jeff (Long) he described the characteristics for the perfect fit to lead this program. It was evident we share the same mission, principles and goals."
Bielema led the Badgers to three-straight Rose Bowls, becoming the first Big Ten Conference school to achieve that since Michigan in the 1970's. He compiled a 68-24 record at the school. His 40-wins over the past four years is the most in that same stretch in Wisconsin history. His style mirrors the Southeastern Conference's physical play.
"His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans," said Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long. "He not only the vision and values for the future of Arkansas football, he embraces them."
Bielema left Wisconsin on a high note with the entire country noticing. His Badgers defeated the No. 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers 70-31 in the Big Ten Championship game Saturday. Three Wisconsin running-backs rushed for more than 100-yards in the convincing victory. Bielema's Badgers defeated the Razorbacks 17-14 in the Capital One Bowl in 2007. Bielema played for Hayden Fry at Iowa.
The hiring ends a season of disbelief for Razorbacks fans. Long fired head coach Bobby Petrino in April. His replacement John L. Smith struggled, despite preseason expectations. The Razorbacks finished 4-8, missing a bowl game for the first time since the 2008 season.
"The infrastructure in place at Arkansas shows the commitment from the administration to accomplish our goals together and I am excited to begin to lead this group of student-athletes," said Bielema. "This program will represent the state of Arkansas in a way Razorback fans everywhere will be proud of."
Bret Bielema Coaching History
Dec. 2012 Arkansas (Head Coach)
2006-12 Wisconsin (Head Coach)
2004-05 Wisconsin (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
2002-03 Kansas State (Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
1996-2001 Iowa (Linebackers)
1994-95 Iowa (Graduate Assistant)
Birthdate: Jan. 13, 1970
Home Town: Prophetstown, Ill.
Family: Wife, Jen
Bowl Games: Rose Bowl, 2013; Rose Bowl, 2012; Rose Bowl, 2011; Champs Sports Bowl, 2009; Champs Sports Bowl, 2008; Outback Bowl, 2008; Capital One Bowl, 2007; Capital One Bowl, 2006; Outback Bowl, 2005; Fiesta Bowl, 2004; Holiday Bowl, 2002; Alamo Bowl, 2001; Sun Bowl, 1997; Alamo Bowl, 1996; Sun Bowl, 1995; Holiday Bowl 1991; Rose Bowl, 1991