Bret Bielema: I lost more friendships in recruiting battles than you can imagine

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday September 19, 2012

Posted by: Chris Vannini on September 19, 2012

Handshakes have become a point of drama in the NFL.

On Sunday, Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz met on the field for the first time since their spat last year, and then Greg Schiano and Tom Coughlin had some words for each other after Schiano's Buccaneers were overly aggressive on a kneel-down.

On Wednesday, Bret Bielema was asked about handshakes on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. Bielema said handshakes aren't a big deal, but he has lost plenty of friends in other aspects of coaching.

"I go back to my early coaching career. I left the University of Iowa and went to Kansas State University and left on great terms," Bielema said. "I had a going-away party. Everybody's having a good time. And then, all of a sudden, we got into a recruiting battle, and I lost more friendships in recruiting battles than you can ever imagine.

"On Saturdays, I think coaches just play and let it be what it is. I have seen some things that usually arise during the game that's kind of a heat-of-the-moment deal. For the most part, I think (handshakes are) a non-issue."

As for his Badgers, Bielema is keeping his quarterbacks off-limits to the media while Wisconsin figures out the position's situation. Bielema explained why he's keeping things in-house.

"Our players do know (what's going on). They knew on Monday, through Tuesday and Wednesday's practice," he said. "They've known all along. One of the things I've learned as a head coach, our kids deal with enough pressure on Saturdays. What I try to do is alleviate things during the course of the week. What I don't want kids to do is have to answer a bunch of questions.

"I've done this in the past. Any time we have a quarterback that's going into transition, it's just easier for them to handle it. So we made them off-limits to the media."

To listen to Bielema's interview, click here. Below are some highlights from Wisconsin's win over Utah State.


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Chris Vannini is a 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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