Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told USA Today on Monday that no one in his athletic department has told him they were sorry to see head football coach Bret Bielema leave for Arkansas. Alvarez actually seems relieved that a coaching change was made.
"I've got to tell you," said athletics director and longtime Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who groomed Bielema to be his replacement, "and I'm not saying this negatively because Bret did a good job for us, but I haven't had one person say, 'Well, it's too bad Bret left' or 'We were sorry to see Bret leave' or 'Couldn't you have paid the assistants more money to keep him?' Not one."
Bielema had great success in his seven years as the head coach of Wisconsin. He won 68 games, led the program to three straight BCS Rose Bowls and three Big Ten Championships. Wisconsin lost all three of its Rose Bowl games, falling to TCU, Oregon and Stanford.
Bielema has been a punching bag during the offseason, and it's now clear there is a little truth to what Ohio State president Gorden Gee said when he mentioned in May that Wisconsin didn't like Bielema.
Seeing Bielema leave for the SEC did come as a surprise, as most successful coaches don't usually leave a prestigious program that continues to win. But Bielema later mentioned that he wasn't happy with the lack of pay his assistants were receiving, which did play a role in his decision to leave.
Wisconsin then hired Gary Anderson after he led Utah State to two consecutive bowl games. Although Anderson doesn't have a résumé that compares to Bielema's, he has gained the respect of his players, per the USA Today report.
"From Day 1 when (Andersen) came in, all the staff he brought with, the chemistry was there,'' senior receiver Jared Abbrederis said. "Everybody jumped right in. There wasn't really a transition period. It seemed like we didn't skip a beat."
Wisconsin is obviously confident in the direction the team is heading, but whether Alvarez would like to admit it or not, Anderson has big shoes to fill.
Sometimes, you never know what you had until it's gone.