Poll: Grade the Bielema hire

What grade do you give the Bielema hire?

  • A

    Votes: 128 45.9%
  • B

    Votes: 123 44.1%
  • C

    Votes: 21 7.5%
  • D

    Votes: 6 2.2%
  • F

    Votes: 1 0.4%

  • Total voters
    279
  • Poll closed .
#3      
'A' for me would have been one of the coaches we talked about probably being out of our league. All of the other coaches had bigger questions marks in some way. Outside of those 'A' options, Bielema was the one who has proven he can succeed at the power five level. He's as good a hire as was reasonable to expect, and he's got me excited for football. Solid 'B', probably would choose B+ if I could.
 
#4      
Solid B for me.

On the one hand, there's a reason Bielema is a name people snicker at, and his Arkansas project was a wobbly ride that did totally collapse at the end. Colorado, Rutgers, and Michigan State all kicked the tires on him and went in a different direction (including to hire Karl Dorrell, which seemed like an abominably bad hire, so of course they were terrific this year). It's possible we look back and say that the Wisconsin machine was the only thing that could offer a Bielema program the stability and consistency needed for success.

On the other hand, the process seems to have been well run, and Bielema is a better fit for us than he is for those other jobs, and he seems poised with a plan that is very well suited to address the shortcomings under Lovie and take advantage of the unique strategic realities of this moment. And I don't think there can be any question that Bielema has the raw coaching chops for the job.

This is a good moment to be asking this question because we now have a clear picture of how the decision was made and what the agreed-upon plan is, but our perception isn't colored by any of the results yet. Buckle up!
 
#5      
BB- A-
LS- B+

Let's get some A+ assistant coaches now and some 4-5* players. IMO Lovie was gone last year if he didn't go to a bowl. I was never a fan of Lovie when he was with the Bears. I was a fan when he was with St. Louis though and tried to give him a chance with the Illini. BB seemed like a dick when he was with Wisky. He seems different for some reason. Time will tell.
 
#6      
Loda, IL
For someone who's too young to remember him at Wisconsin and simply didn't pay attention to Bret at Arkansas, what are some examples of this "immaturity" and "need for growth" everyone is talking about?
 
#7      
BB- A-
LS- B+

Let's get some A+ assistant coaches now and some 4-5* players. IMO Lovie was gone last year if he didn't go to a bowl. I was never a fan of Lovie when he was with the Bears. I was a fan when he was with St. Louis though and tried to give him a chance with the Illini. BB seemed like a dick when he was with Wisky. He seems different for some reason. Time will tell.

The Bears are the only team he left that didn't get better after he left 😆
 
#8      
BB- A-
LS- B+

Let's get some A+ assistant coaches now and some 4-5* players. IMO Lovie was gone last year if he didn't go to a bowl. I was never a fan of Lovie when he was with the Bears. I was a fan when he was with St. Louis though and tried to give him a chance with the Illini. BB seemed like a dick when he was with Wisky. He seems different for some reason. Time will tell.

Lovie was a tough hire to grade at the equivalent moment, because what are you grading it against? It wasn't really a "coaching search".

The Cubit mini-contract was a really awful place for the program to be in. The roster was never anywhere near as bad as the Lovie savior narrative required it to be, but there's a chance seeing out that Cubit season could have gotten it to that point. And what it meant for the credibility of the program with recruits, but also just among its own fans and the Big Ten audience was just devastating.

Lovie wiped that all away in a snap of the fingers. As poorly as he performed in the job, he did great service to the program by taking it in that moment.

There were certainly reasons to doubt Lovie as a college coach, but at this point in that process all the right things were being said. The miraculous, almost divine intervention nature of the way it came out of the blue, right on the heels of "not ideal" certainly had us all overjoyed to a degree that outstripped the credibility of the hire in a vacuum. But it WASN'T in a vacuum, so I don't see how you can give it any less than a B+/A-
 
#9      
I voted A. Not because he was the best coach available, but because I think he is the best coach we could get. There is no simple remedy to get this program to relevancy. I think the most important thing to do is to ensure that what the Illini do on a day to day basis in training, game prep., and recruiting mirrors successful programs in this region. While he may not have built a program into a winner, he does know what it takes to run a winning program at this level.

Build winning habits, and the wins will follow...eventually. Good luck, coach.
 
#10      
Cary, IL
I voted A. Not because he was the best coach available, but because I think he is the best coach we could get. There is no simple remedy to get this program to relevancy. I think the most important thing to do is to ensure that what the Illini do on a day to day basis in training, game prep., and recruiting mirrors successful programs in this region. While he may not have built a program into a winner, he does know what it takes to run a winning program at this level.

Build winning habits, and the wins will follow...eventually. Good luck, coach.
So, you were grading on a curve. ;)

I went with a B, like many, I was leary at first. Since the hire, it seems that everything he says, makes me more excited about U of I football.
 
#11      
BB- A-
LS- B+

Let's get some A+ assistant coaches now and some 4-5* players. IMO Lovie was gone last year if he didn't go to a bowl. I was never a fan of Lovie when he was with the Bears. I was a fan when he was with St. Louis though and tried to give him a chance with the Illini. BB seemed like a dick when he was with Wisky. He seems different for some reason. Time will tell.
Lovie a B+, give everyone a participation trophy. No way, his biggest recruit is an undersized QB that is a single threat. He Lovie, did not recruit "Football Players", and not a huge fan of BB, but he will get football players in here. They won't be 4 and 5 starts because there are teams like Ohio St, Notre Dame Michigan in the Midwest, not to mention Wis. Iowa and NW. But getting back to Lovie's grade I would say a C- and that is being fair. Numerous issues with assistants leaving, clock management and game planning throughout the years. Teams not coming to play in certain games (Last year NW) . 17-39 for approx. 20 million, that value does not come out to a B+.
 
#13      
IL metro east burbs of St. Louis
I graded him on a slight curve which bumped him from a B to an A- because I think he was the best option of the choices mentioned on this board. (who knows how many other options Josh actually looked at)
 
#14      
Arizona, a program with a lot in common with Illinois, is reportedly down to:

Brent Brennan, HC San Jose State, 15-29 there and this season is their first winning season in his four years. Great recruiting reputation and they do appear to be a very good team, and it was a wasteland when he took over, but I would be very scared of someone's whose resume relied on this weirdo Covid season so heavily.

Jedd Fisch, Patriots QB Coach, been a decent enough OC at Miami, Michigan and UCLA but didn't really set the world on fire at any of them. He's been known to really want a college HC job, he's a perennial candidate.

Kenny Dillingham, OC Florida State, 30 years old and an incredibly light resume, including FSU's disaster this year. I would be shocked if they hired him.

Our reported interviews of Bielema, Leipold and Marcus Freeman is a MUCH stronger process, for me. (Doubly so if Clawson, Monken and Leonhard were willing to be considered)

And the less said about what's going on at Auburn the better.
 
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#15      
I'd lean B-. Although probably too early to tell. Staffing would factor a ton into the grade. He's going to lose a bunch of games 2021 and 2022 - we'll see if he's still winning the press conference then.
 
#16      
Gave it a B. I did zero homework on him before him other than this board. But I have to say the presser came off very well - so the "is he a decent human being?" question was satisfied. Of course you never know, but he came off as humble and committed - I'll take it until shown otherwise.

What I don't know is whether or not he can replicate what happened up north. So, optimistically B at this time. At the very least, he has been a key cog in a successful program.
 
#17      
Has there been any positive or negative reaction by the players at all? I think he did the right thing in trying to prioritize them, to make them feel like they are a priority. I'm curious to see if any of the players have made any intentions known about what they plan to do.
 
#18      
I voted A.

I liked Bielema compared to LL, as made obvious on the coaching thread lol, but I was really playing with a lot of the BB train stuff. I liked him for his experience and my perception that he would hire a good staff and recruit. I would've voted B when the hire was announced, as I had never really listened to his press conferences before, but he has me sold now. No wonder JW pulled the trigger on picking him. It's much easier to lose the press conference than to win it, and he absolutely crushed it and has crushed all his interviews and public statements so far. I know it's just talk and he's done this before, but to be that "on" for literally everything so far really pushed me to the A. Also, people forget just how good of a defensive coach he was before becoming an HC. His Wisconsin defenses were elite. This guy knows football and sounds like he's got a very detailed and specific plan for how he's going to run this program. I'm adding some cars to the BB train because this thing is about to get rolling.
 
#19      
Excellent possible hire - A.
Was not a fan at first, but after thinking about it, I'm all in.

BB knows how the best college programs are run and ran one himself.

Saw Haden Fry rebuild Iowa and successfully ran Wiscy once they were at the top.
Learned what doesn't work at AR and then went to work for Belichick. Taken along to NYG by fellow staff member Joe Judge.
Given JW's reference call to Belichick, assume BB could've stayed with Patriots had he chosen to.

Reached out to IHSCA chief as first order of business.
Appeared on College Game Day from his freaking car.

X's and O's, recruiter, administrator and face of program. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Couldn't get Saban, Meyer, Sweeney or other proven big names because... well, why would the hell would they even consider us?
BB has something to prove so the timing is serendipitous.
Lovie was a great hire but clearly didn't/wouldn't learn how to run a college program: Good hire, bad coach. I trust JW learned what matters.

There are no guarantees but I don't see how it could this hire could possibly be any better.

I predict that in 5 years, we'll look back and say this was a program-changer. BB will be only 55 with the arrow pointing up.
Very well done, JW.
 
#20      
I gave an A. I gave an A because I believe Whitman got this one right. Fickell wasn't coming. Freeman is intriguing, but he has no head coaching experience; plus he bolts when something "better" opens. I believe Bielema will be here as long as he is doing well -- even if Iowa opens. I'm a homer, but I believe Illinois is a great job because we're in the Big Ten West. If Bielema can recruit solid three & four star players (I don't see five stars coming any time soon), then we'll compete for the West title. We'll have chances with five-star recruits in a few years if we consistently compete for Big Ten West titles. He answered the question about his past very well; I believe him. I believe he's matured and is not the same person was 20 or even five years ago. We've all made mistakes, he made his, and it sounds like he's grown. All-in-all, an A hire especially since we were not getting Campbell, Malzahn or Fickell.
 
#21      
Forgottonia
I voted A. Not because he was the best coach available, but because I think he is the best coach we could get. There is no simple remedy to get this program to relevancy. I think the most important thing to do is to ensure that what the Illini do on a day to day basis in training, game prep., and recruiting mirrors successful programs in this region. While he may not have built a program into a winner, he does know what it takes to run a winning program at this level.

Build winning habits, and the wins will follow...eventually. Good luck, coach.
Same here. I would put him at B if I had my choice of anyone, but that simply wasn’t going to happen no matter what JW did.
 
#22      
"The Good Land", WI
I'm gonna own up to the fact that I've been in Milwaukee since 2011 and his ditching the B1G for the SEC, combined with some eh "personal anecdotes" I've heard made me really, really not want to see him hired.

But I'm coming around. He's said the right things in his first few interviews and is making a concerted effort in the state of Illinois. He's the best realistic option that was available.

I just am tired of getting my hopes up. I put a C because in all honesty a C caliber coach should be able to get us to bowl games most years. I thought Lovie was an A. I thought Beckman was a B. Might as well aim low.
 
#23      
Arizona, a program with a lot in common with Illinois, is reportedly down to:

Brent Brennan, HC San Jose State, 15-29 there and this season is their first winning season in his four years. Great recruiting reputation and they do appear to be a very good team, and it was a wasteland when he took over, but I would be very scared of someone's whose resume relied on this weirdo Covid season so heavily.

Jedd Fisch, Patriots QB Coach, been a decent enough OC at Miami, Michigan and UCLA but didn't really set the world on fire at any of them. He's been known to really want a college HC job, he's a perennial candidate.

Kenny Dillingham, OC Florida State, 30 years old and an incredibly light resume, including FSU's disaster this year. I would be shocked if they hired him.

Our reported interviews of Bielema, Leipold and Marcus Freeman is a MUCH stronger process, for me. (Doubly so if Clawson, Monken and Leonhard were willing to be considered)

And the less said about what's going on at Auburn the better.
If true -- this is really huge news. Bravo Josh!!
 
#24      
I'm gonna own up to the fact that I've been in Milwaukee since 2011 and his ditching the B1G for the SEC, combined with some eh "personal anecdotes" I've heard made me really, really not want to see him hired.

But I'm coming around. He's said the right things in his first few interviews and is making a concerted effort in the state of Illinois. He's the best realistic option that was available.

I just am tired of getting my hopes up. I put a C because in all honesty a C caliber coach should be able to get us to bowl games most years. I thought Lovie was an A. I thought Beckman was a B. Might as well aim low.
Bielema - A (ask me again in 4 years.....)
Lovie - D+ (steadied the ship; but not assertive/aggressive enough; weak assistants; AND did not adapt to today's game; just show me the W's baby!)
Beckman - D-/F (no elaboration necessary)

I rated Lovie an A-/B+ when he was first hired, so what do I really know?