I went and looked up the website Fire Bret Bielema.com the other day. I found it hadn’t been updated since 2008. Is was in that year I and I’m sure many others gave plenty of criticism to Bielema for the way he handled the team and himself during a badly disappointing 7-6 season which included a bowl game whipping by Florida State and a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct which help cost the Badgers vs. Michigan State.
But I’ve always felt if you criticize a coach for what theyÂ do wrong, at least have the decency to praise them for what they do right, and here and now Bieleman has done a lot right to help the Badgers go 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten. UW still has a shot at the Big Ten title, a BCS bowl bid and dare I say a shot at the national title after UW recorded back-to-back wins over ranked teams for the first time since 1954. The win over Iowa wasn’t just a thrill for diehard Badger fans, it was a darn good football to listen too period. It was well worth the entertainment dollar.
I’m not going to speculate whether Bret has “grown up” or matured into the job. What I will say is Â the detailed scouting of Iowa’s special teams, the fact that UW won despite missing seven starters and the Badgers’ will to win and drive all are the hallmarks of good college coaching – Â both on the field, when it comes to recruiting and when it comes to leading young men to give beyond themselves to accomplish more than they thought possible – Â was there last Saturday.
Oh, he’ll still have his critics. They’ll come out of the woodwork the next time the Badgers lose and maybe I find fault with a decision he makes once again. But he certainly has my respect and loyalty, which is more important than likeability. You can’t please everyone, but you better make them respect you, for which is what true leadership is about.