Rutgers sees effect of Bielema hiring

Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema will become the next head coach at Arkansas, according to Yahoo! Sports.

The move could have both immediate and long-term consequences for Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights host Arkansas next year in the second leg of a home-and-home series. The Knights beat the Razorbacks, 35-26, on Sept. 22 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Bielema, who played collegiately at Iowa, has few ties to the Southeast, but brings a winning tradition after succeeding longtime coach Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin.

Rutgers faced an Arkansas team this season in turmoil following the offseason firing of Bobby Petrino and interim hiring of the controversial John L. Smith.

Arkansas finished 4-8 this season after entering it as a consensus top-10 capable of winning the vaunted SEC West division. ?Bielema, who led the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances, could provide much-needed stability to a program that lacked it in 2012.

Bielema leaves behind a Wisconsin program that Rutgers could face as a divisional opponent in a projected 2014 move to the Big Ten. An initial report rumored a Rutgers addition to the Big Ten’s Leaders division, which features Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin, among others.

But Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Nov. 20 that any reports of possible division homes for Rutgers and Maryland, also scheduled to join the Big Ten in 2014, are premature. Delany said the league’s athletic directors will meet in 2013 to discuss division alignment.

Bielema’s departure opens a position in Madison, Wisc., that Alvarez, now athletic director, will likely want to fill soon. He could turn to Pittsburgh, where former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst finishes his first season as head coach.

Should Alvarez hire Chryst, Pittsburgh will endure its third coaching search in the last two years.

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