Bret Bielema explains what he learned as a coach in the NFL and how he intends to use those lessons in Illinois (1:43)

Illinois is hiring former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema to head its soccer program, the school said on Saturday,

Bielema, 50, has spent the last three seasons as an NFL assistant, and this year after two years with the New England Patriots he worked for the New York Giants. He had expressed an interest in returning to college and was a candidate for, according to sources Openings in both Michigan and Colorado states last year and earlier this cycle at Southern Miss

Illinois, which sacked coach Lovie Smith last Sunday, has also considered Buffalo manager Lance Leipold, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to replace Smith, who played in five seasons at school between 17 and 39

“This is about a chance to bring Illinois to a level – I’ve seen them succeed in my life and obviously they have had a few times that they haven’t had much success,” Bielema said on Saturday at ESPN College GameDay

Bielema won three consecutive Big Ten championships in Wisconsin from 2010 to 2012 and went in seven seasons with the Badgers with five top 25 finishes between 68 and 24. He left the 2012 Big Ten championship game for Arkansas, where he between Played 29 and 34 before being fired in 2017

“Illinois and the Big Ten are my home and I can no longer look forward to the opportunity presented to me with the Fighting Umgebung,” Bielema said in a prepared statement. “We want to develop a program, the Illinois Nation makes you proud and regains the passion I saw when Illinois wins “

He grew up in Prophetstown, Illinois and played on the defensive in Iowa In 1990 he helped the Hawkeyes to a share of the Big Ten title (Illinois also shared the championship) Bielema began his coaching career in Iowa before moving to Kansas State and then Wisconsin, where he succeeded Barry Alvarez after the 2005 season

“Bret Bielema is a proven winner,” said Sporting Director Josh Whitman in a prepared statement. “With three Big Ten championships, few coaches can match his familiarity with and success within the Big Ten conference in our conversations that he is a lifelong learner, constantly striving to grow and improve “

Bret Bielema

World news – USA – Illinois is hiring Bielema to replace Smith as coach