Bret Bielema has left his position as head football coach of the Wisconsin Badgers and instead will fill the head coaching void at Arkansas.
Yes, you read that right.
None of us saw this move coming, but according to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports, Arkansas has gotten the long-time Wisconsin head coach to flip:
In a stunning coup, Arkansas will hire Wisconsin's Bret Bielema as its next football coach, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Bielema, who has taken the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls, was nowhere on the radar amid months of speculation over who Arkansas would hire.
An announcement will come Tuesday, sources told Y! Sports, but Bielema is not expected to be introduced until Wednesday
Not only is this an unexpected twist in the coaching carousel of 2012, but this is a move that's going to have some major recruiting implications for both programs. There's a lot to think about, so let's take a look at how this impacts each program.
First, the winner...
There's no doubt that this hire came out of left field, but it's the type of move that should prove to recruits that Arkansas is serious about turning the program around. Not only is Bielema a big name that most recruits should know, he'll be coming to Arkansas with a very nice track record.
As Forde reported, he's led the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls and overall, his record at Wisconsin should speak for itself. He's been the Badgers head coach since 2007 and has amassed a 68-24 record, which includes four double-digit-win seasons.
His teams have been known for running the ball extremely well and defensive toughness, and that's a style that will transition nicely into the SEC.
The biggest recruiting draw Bielema could be bringing to Arkansas is his record of sending players to the NFL. Recent standouts that have played for Bielema include Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt, Kevin Zeitler and Gabe Carimi.
Overall, Bielema will be a terrific hire for Arkansas recruiting. He's a big name, he's got a ton of winning experience and recruits will see him as a coach who can help them get into the NFL.
"Disaster" is the only word that would be adequate enough to describe this situation from a recruiting standpoint.
Firing a head coach is one thing, but having him stolen away by an SEC school is even worse for recruiting. How appealing does Wisconsin look right now considering that its own head coach didn't even want to stay there?
This isn't a good look for Wisconsin football, and recruits will take notice. That's not even to mention that dreaded cloud of uncertainty that is about to hang over the program. Here's what 3-star cornerback Sojourn Shelton is thinking about the news, according to quotes via Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports:
“I just found the news myself right now,” Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Plantation cornerback Sojourn Shelton said as the story broke. “All I can say is wow. I don’t really know where I’m at right now. One of my coaches at Wisconsin just left minutes ago. I don’t think even he knew. It’s crazy.”
Uncertainty is the worst thing a program can display in regards to recruiting, but the fact of the matter is, until Wisconsin can find a replacement, these recruits won't know who their coach is. They also won't know what kind of system he will want to run, or how they will be used. Essentially, they won't know what their futures hold.
Wisconsin's 2013 class is in jeopardy right now, and it will be until the Badgers hire a new coach.
To make things worse, the initial names that have been thrown out there aren't game-changers in any way. Forde mentioned Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst, a former offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, and current N.C. State head coach and former Badgers assistant Dave Doeren, although he was just hired a few days ago.
It's important to note that Forde just listed those names as potential candidates, and more extensive lists are sure to follow, but as of right now, recruits don't have much to be excited about. Then again, nobody saw Bielema coaching at Arkansas happening, so only time will tell.
As it stands, though, Wisconsin recruiting is not in a good place.