Catching up with #illini coach Bret Bielema
Had first full staff meeting on Sunday afternoon. "It's been awesome." Putting finishing touches on support staff.
"Couldn't be more excited about this group of guys."
Bielema: Players went through a physical assessment with medical team and strength coach Tank Wright. Started winter workouts on Monday, do four days a week. Off on the weekend.
Bielema said he wanted to hire coordinators he hasn't worked with in the past.
Bielema: I only offered the defensive coordinator job to one guy and that guy was Ryan Walters.
Bielema: Next six weeks will be about building a playbook around our athletes.
Bielema's family is building a house in Champaign. Right now in a rental.
Bielema on staff: Joke that George McDonald "left me at the altar" at Arkansas but he "quickly got over it."
Bielema: McDonald will work on a lot of player development, as well as WRs. He's always touched players' lives.
Bielema: Kevin Kane originally was on my DC list. Didn't think he'd have option to bring him as position coach, but Mark Taurisani kept in touch and they worked out associate HC role. He'll be involved in "gameday management" and recruiting/personnel on defense.
Bielema: Ryan Walters and Tony Petersen will focus more on X's and O's while McDonald and Kane will focus on building roster through recruiting on their sides of the ball.
Bielema turned an office into "a Zoom room." This is where Illini do interviews but also Zooms with recruits, players, staff, alumni, donors, etc.
Bielema: Staff holdover Travis Perry, head of graphics, came up with #FamILLy hashtag.
Bielema: "I know I got a lot of good recruiters because they got a lot of wives that are out of their league."
Bielema: Like to promote coaches from within once he gets going, but hired outside coordinators this time to do something unique in the league.
"Build it the Illini way. ...I want to build off our strengths here and work together as a staff."
Bielema purposefully staggered hires to give each their media attention (he gets it) but also staggered his hires so that he could build off his previous hires.
Bielema didn't know Cory Patterson before but was blown away in his interviews.
Bielema: Divided state into 10 areas and each assistant coach will recruit that area in state.
Bielema: Coordinators Tony Petersen and Ryan Walters will have minimal recruiting area while the other eight coaches will have huge responsibility in recruiting.
Bielema: I can't control anything that Illinois has done in the past, all I can control is what they do in the future.
Bielema told Owen Carney that if he wants to be an NFL defensive linemen, he was an NFL defensive line coach.
Bielema: We're getting tight on scholarships. I'm trying to get the best players so we can have the best team we can have this year.