Bielema opening statement

Defensive coordinator Bret Bielema spoke to the media Thursday, after UW head coach/athletic director Barry Alvarez announced that Bielema would succeed him as head coach in 2006

"Obviously it's a big day for every body involved in our program and everything that goes with that.

"First of all I thank Coach Alvarez for believing in me, trusting in me. I've been with him for a year. But I realized very early on that he was someone that was going to be a joy to work with every day… and I appreciate all the things that he's taught me.

"To Chancellor Wiley and the university administration for their belief in me. Obviously, come in here for a year, no previous head coaching experience but the trust and the belief in Coach Alvarez's recommendations and the confidence that they've showed in me.

"To all the Badger fans, from students to people in Madison to Mendota to the great state of Wisconsin to the Badger fans across the country. It's something that I've enjoyed for a year and look forward to for many years to come.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity… First and foremost I first experienced Wisconsin from the wrong side. I came in as a visitor wearing the wrong color. It's something that I obviously was able to see the transition when Coach Alvarez first came in. I'll have it be known that I never lost to him as a player. But as a coach I did and maybe that was because I was coaching.

"Obviously the rich football tradition with three Rose Bowl victories in a decade. All the bowl game tradition that exists, the new stadium renovation. Obviously a year ago, but when you guys see this for the first time this year it's going to be another step up. The academic excellence, throughout the university with the general student population, within our student-athletes, 108 Academic All-Big Tens during Coach Alvarez's time. So many success stories outside of the world of football and those are things that are easily seen by people outside of the program.

"I know there are many challenges ahead of me and a lot of people will draw assumption to my ability to handle it. I do know this: I've experienced four different programs and two different conferences and I'm going to draw from those experiences.

"Under Hayden Fry, I played for him and then coached for him for a long time. I learned the psychology of the game. He was kind of a Zen master in his own right, was very knowledgeable in trying to get the most out of his student athletes at any given time at any different area.

"As I look back on it, I didn't realize it at that time but my experience with Kirk Ferentz at the University of Iowa, obviously he replaced a legend in Hayden Fry and the transition I experienced my first three years with him are going to be very beneficial in the transition that I now have to face.

"Then going to Coach Snyder, who like Coach Ferentz and like Coach Alvarez was under Coach Fry's first original staff at Iowa. Coach Snyder had maintained a level of dominance within a conference after he had built it up from nothing. And that was great to experience for two years to show the consistency that needs to take place.

"And then finally here with Coach Alvarez. From the first moment that I received a phone call about this job I knew that I was going to take it if I had the opportunity to get it. It's something that I jumped at with everything that I had for a variety of different reasons.

"Coach Alvarez was not at Iowa when I was there. I had known him through being in the Big Ten conference, recruiting against the University of Wisconsin and developed a relationship with it. I had no idea the effect that he would have on me as a coach, the effect that coaches on our current staff would have on me and allow me to grow as a coach themselves and look forward to days ahead.

"There will be a bunch of questions today about my philosophies, staff, future opportunities and everything that goes with this job. And those questions will be answered in due time. What I do know is I have seen first hand what it takes to win here at Wisconsin.

"Coach Alvarez has instilled several things. The things that jump out to me are obviously the hard work that our players, our coaches, our administration, our university are willing to do to make this place special.

"I understand that people make a difference. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are, people make the world go round. And I don't ever intend on losing sight of that.

"To be able to be committed to the task at hand. No matter what it is, I know… I always chuckle, I came from a town of 1,800 people but I had 2,500 pigs on my farm. Everybody else would go to the mall on Saturday and I stayed home and did chores. I didn't understand it at the time, but I do now. I do understand that if you are going to commit yourself to something to do it right, it's got to be 100 percent commitment.

"As Coach Alvarez mentioned, the announcement here today, he first came to me a couple months ago. To avoid the question right now, this job wasn't promised to me when I took the job here. This insures a smooth transition for the coming year. Our players I think were very receptive today. I've seen some of them since.

"It's a transition year for recruiting. My added responsibilities for recruiting will in no way take away from performance as a defensive coordinator. I know a lot of time… I'll come in early or stay late, whatever it needs to be done to be able to take care of those things.

"Recruiting will focus on our primary areas. Obviously the state of Wisconsin is our No. 1 goal, our No. 1 priority and that will continue as long as I'm here at the University of Wisconsin.

"We have a current pool, a current seven commitments that I obviously want to secure. But those things won't change. Today is the day to celebrate coach Alvarez and to be a part of it in this way is very, very special for me, something I will never forget.

"This place is what it is today and a football program because of what Coach Alvarez has accomplished, the people that have been involved in it and I'm very excited about the future."


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