Former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema reportedly is mulling a return to the Big Ten, and to the Michigan State Spartans in particular.
According to Rainer Sabin of the Detroit Free Press, "Bielema has 'definite' interest in succeeding Mark Dantonio."
Dantonio retired last week after 13 years as the Spartans head coach. Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell reportedly interviewed with Michigan State, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, but ultimately chose to remain with the Bearcats.
Per that report, "Fickell was never formally offered the job. But when State officials left the meeting near noontime on Sunday, there was an understanding that if Fickell wanted the job, it was his."
As for Bielema, he was hired by the New York Giants this offseason to serve as the team's outside linebackers coach. He spent the past two seasons working for the New England Patriots, as a consultant in 2018 and the defensive line coach in 2019.
Previously, he spent seven seasons as the Wisconsin Badgers head coach (2006-12), going 68-24 in his time in Madison. He led the team to three Big Ten titles, six bowl games and two Rose Bowl appearances.
He then took over as the Arkansas Razorbacks head coach (2013-17), though he had less success in the SEC, going 29-34 with three bowl game appearances.
It's unclear if the interest is mutual. According to Sabin, "MSU's search committee met Monday morning to discuss next steps, sources said, and the board of trustees will be briefed Monday night as previously scheduled. The board of trustees is responsible for voting to approve any hire."
Nailing this hire will be key for a Michigan State football program that has gone just 27-24 in the past four seasons.