It’s bad enough that a 7-5 Wisconsin team won the “Big Ten Championship” game. It’s bad enough that Nebraska, the other team in the “Big Ten Championship” game, gave up 70 points in getting crushed by Wisconsin. It’s bad enough that the Ohio State Buckeyes, the best team in the conference, weren’t playing. But the crowning indignity is that Wisconsin’s head coach, Bret Bielema, is now reportedly bolting the Big Ten for Arkansas and the SEC.
Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t think that Bielema, the former Badgers coach who now reportedly will be leading the Razorbacks, is a great football coach. He won or tied for the lead in the Big Ten three times — at least, according to the conference title game organizers — but I never thought he matched up well, in terms of coaching or recruiting ability, against Ohio State or other premier college programs. Bielema always had a squinty, slack-jawed look on his face, seemed overmatched in in-game coaching contests, and rarely won the big games. If Arkansas thinks they are getting a great coach, they may well be mistaken.
No, what’s embarrassing is that the “Big Ten Championship” coach is skedaddling the conference to go to a marginal team in the SEC. Arkansas apparently was willing to pay him a lot more money than Wisconsin would shell out, and perhaps Wisconsin’s discretion in that regard is wise. Still, if winning coaches are bolting for a second-division team in a different conference, what does it tell you about the Big Ten?