Skip to main content

Bret Bielema Has Brutally Honest Admission On Wisconsin

Bret Bielema reacts on the field for Illinois.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - AUGUST 28: Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema reacts after a play during the Big Ten Conference college football game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Illinois Fighting Illini on August 28, 2021, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bret Bielema had an indirect part in his former employer changing head coaches.

Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst after Saturday's 34-10 loss to Bielema's Illinois squad. Chryst finished his Badgers tenure with 67 career wins, one fewer than Bielema earned when coaching Wisconsin for seven seasons.

That link hasn't gone unnoticed, but Bielema also has strong ties to the Fighting Illini's next opponent. On Monday, per Jeremy Werner of 247Sports, Bielema joked that everyone should instead make a bigger deal about his Iowa connection.  

Bielema was a defensive lineman for the Hawkeyes before joining his alma mater as a graduate assistant and linebackers coach. He also has a permanent memento of his former school.

"Heck, I got the tattoo, the famous tattoo," Bielema said. "Great idea when you're 19."

Bielema discussed the Tigerhawk tattoo when introduced as Illinois' new head coach last year. While he acknowledged that it's "not so much" a good idea as it seemed in college, he expressed the significance of honoring his roots.

"I always tell our players, we all come from different parts of the country, different homes, different backgrounds, different religions, different communities,"  Bielema said, via the Big Ten Network. "It’s important to know that you’re here because of that and that’s what made you who you are today."

Illinois will host Iowa this Saturday night in another personal Big Ten battle for Bielema.