Bret Bielema describes his farewell to Wisconsin

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday December 06, 2012

Posted by: Chris Vannini on December 6, 2012

Bret Bielema's decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas is still shocking to many.

But what about the people on the inside? Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez admitted he was blindsided when Bielema told him he was leaving.

On SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Bielema talked about his farewell to the players.

"That was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, without a doubt, professionally," Bielema said. "I was very emphatic with the administration here at Arkansas that we'd try to keep it as quiet as we possibly could before it was real. I flew back from New York, it began to spread a little bit during our flight to Madison. I came in, snuck in the back door because I didn't want to speak to the media or anything until I spoke to our kids.

"I got in front of them, it was a very emotional time for me. I expressed to them how much I loved them and appreciated everything they did, gave them the reasons that I came here to Arkansas. I saw a lot of eyes that were locked in, but some angry eyes, some sad eyes, some eyes that were looking at me for answers. I tried to say as much as I could.

"I gave them an option. Our team meeting room had a door in the back and a door up front. I said, 'If you want to say goodbye to me, I'd love to shake your hand and say goodbye. If you want to punch me in the head and not talk to me, walk out the back door. Thankfully, I don't know if there was a kid that walked out the back. They all came to the front. I had a very difficult exchange with a lot of them, but it was something I'll remember forever."

You can listen to the interview by clicking here.




Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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