Considering I’m not going to jump ship from my alma mater, I guess we’ll have to get used to it.
Illinois head coach Bret Bielema.
To be fair, I did predict this would happen.
But I wasn’t happy when it did.
Although, between the time I woke up at 9 a.m. pretty pissed thinking it was going to be the coach from Buffalo, to when I wrote the brief that it was Bielema, to when I went on a walk around the Wisconsin state capitol building in my Illini beanie and was told, “Sorry about Bret,” to when I read a thread of tweets, I’m doing better.
On ESPN’s College Gameday, where it’s difficult to say the wrong thing, Bielema did great. He praised Illinois, he said he’s an Illinois guy, and he said he’s changing the Illini’s defense! He also said today is about the current Illini who are playing at Penn State, so it’s not fair to us to judge him too much today (although, we will).
In the press release, where it is basically impossible to mess up, Bielema said the right things again. Again, these aren’t two places where we can judge the hire. This is PR, and Illinois wasn't going to mess that up. Thus, it’s fair to still be frustrated.
Let’s head to Twitter then.
Brody Wisecarver, a 2021 signee, praised the hire. So did current tailback Reggie Love, and then tight end Luke Ford. I like to see players say they’re excited to work with their new coach, but they have two options: deal with it, or leave. And I don’t think on a gameday we were going to see much of the latter.
But, my mood pretty much turned around once I saw this thread of tweets.
Jacksonville (IL) High School head football coach Mark Grounds is the president of the state’s high school football coaches association. He said he talked to Bielema this morning, and tweeted: “I think what we as fans and coaches want, we will see from him and staff... Impressive convo.”
As president of the IHSFCA i just got off the phone with new Illinois fb Coach Bielma. I think what we as fans and coaches want we will see from him and staff. Coaches stay tuned for info in near future of a zoom. Impressive convo. @IHSFCA1— CrimsonPrideFB (@GroundsMark) December 19, 2020
The thread continued.
Grounds is asked when he last spoke to Lovie.
Enlighten us. Last time you spoke to Lovie?— Michael Szwaja (@ChiSportsTweetr) December 19, 2020
Never did— CrimsonPrideFB (@GroundsMark) December 19, 2020
HE NEVER SPOKE TO LOVIE!!?!?!!!?
HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE! THE BAR WAS LOW, BUT MY GOD, HOW LOW WAS IT!?
I’ll take a proactive Bielema who comes with some baggage and a few fanbases who aren’t fans and give him a chance — because we have no choice — than a Lovie. I’m sure a Lance Leipold or Jeff Monken would’ve done the same as Bielema, but at least Bielema is doing what he needs to.
Let’s just beat Penn State.