The University of Arkansas introduced Bret Bielema as its new head football coach at a news conference in Fayetteville on Wednesday afternoon.
Bielema, formerly head coach at Wisconsin, flew in to Drake Field in Fayetteville on Tuesday night. The university had announced his hire earlier in the day.
A university offer sheet shows Bielema’s salary with the Razorbacks as $3.2 million annually over the next six years. The offer includes a $3 million to start, as well as $700,000 annually in potential performance incentives.
Bielema stood at a podium in front of a microphone and told the audience of his humble beginnings on a pig farm.
“What today brings is a chance to stand in front of you and chase a dream,” he told the crowd.
Bielema praised the university’s tradition and the Arkansas fan base, saying he had family in the state while growing up and that the fans have “great passion.”
He also gave fans a promise for a brighter future, just days after the team finished a disappointing losing season. Bielema said he hopes to bring the Razorbacks an SEC title.
“I’m here because I want to give you something you’ve never had,” Bielema said.
Bielema then stepped away from the podium and led the crowd and media members in “Calling the Hogs”.
Athletic Director Jeff Long led the press conference with glowing praise for Bielema, saying he is a coach who has won “the right way, on and off the field.”
Long said he was looking for “discipline” and “accountability” in his search for a new head coach.
Bielema led Wisconsin to a 68-24 record since 2006, including appearances in three straight Rose Bowls.
Bielema said he will not coach the Badgers in this year’s Rose Bowl appearance.
He praised University of Wisconsin athletic administrators and said he tried to leave the program better than he found it.
The new coach also address comments he made earlier this year, when he said, “We at the Big 10 don’t want to be like the SEC in any way, shape or form.”
Bielema made the comments in frustration with Ohio State’s Urban Meyer’s recruiting methods. Meyer is the former coach of Florida.
Bielema said he was not disparaging the SEC, and that the comments were made as a coach at a Big 10 school.
Also addressed was the prospect of any assistant coaching hires. Bielema said he has not brought any coaches with him from Wisconsin. He said he will interview every member of the coaching staff while assembling his assistant coaches.
Bielema acknowledged the difficulty of recruiting in the South against other SEC schools, but said he is confident in his ability to recruit good players out of Texas and Florida. He signed more than 50 players from Florida during his time at Wisconsin, he said.
Bielema also had success pulling players to Madison, Wisc., from Texas, he said.
Bielema succeeds John L. Smith as head coach of the Razorbacks. The university announced late last month that Smith would not be back for a second season. The team finished the regular season with a 4-8 record.
Smith succeeded Bobby Petrino, who led the Razorbacks to two consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins, but was fired in April following allegations of misconduct.