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Bret Bielema enters his seventh season as the Badgers' head football coach.
Normally, Bret Bielema would have taken a lot more grief after following a legend and Hall of Famer as head football coach at the state's flagship school.
He didn't, though, because Barry Alvarez hand picked Bielema, his former defensive coordinator, to serve as the team's head coach when Alvarez decided to step down as coach and stick to AD duties.
Bielema has taken the Badgers to a 61-19 record, an astounding winning percentage of .763.
He has done it by maintaining the blueprint that was left by Alvarez: run the ball behind the state's hulking farm boys on the line and complement that with a menacing defense that won't break.
The Badgers have won at least 10 games four times under Bielema's watch and have played in four January bowls and two straight Rose Bowls. Even though he is 2-4 in bowls, Bielema has vaulted the Badgers into national prominence by beating No. 1 Ohio State in 2010, the school's first win over a top-ranked team since 1981. The Badgers also laid the wood to Indiana in 2010 by laying 83 points on the hapless squad.
This is the year Bielema will prove himself even more. With his defensive coordinator Dave Doeren taking a head coaching job at Northern Illinois last year and Paul Chryst taking over the head job at Pittsburgh this year, Bielema has been forced to adapt to coaching changes.
This season, he's got six new assistants. And nothing speaks to the character of a person more than how he handles change and adversity. Chryst was credited for being the mad scientist behind Wisconsin's offensive renaissance. Now, Bielema has to overhaul everything, with a transfer quarterback to boot.
Bielema has been underrated as a coach, but this season he will prove why he deserves to be talked about with Oregon's Chip Kelly, Southern Cal's Lane Kiffin and Boise State's Chris Petersen.