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Transcript from Bret Bielema's press conference

ON WISCONSIN <b>Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is dunked by Jay Valai during the final seconds of the Badgers' game against Northwestern.</b>
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is dunked by Jay Valai during the final seconds of the Badgers' game against Northwestern.

Nov. 30, 2010

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-- Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the end of the regular season and the bowl season. A complete transcript can be found below.

Bret Bielema: I have a lot of my coaches on the road this week, so haven’t had a chance really, after the game I gave the guys a day off on Sunday, players and coaches, so we haven’t really gone through the Northwestern game, but I was very excited to see that game come through the way it did. A number of guys played well. I thought the Big Ten announced both Scotty [Tolzien] and J.J. [Watt] as players of the week. Then of course last night, with all the guys that got all-conference recognition. I believe we were the number one team that got recognized, 18 guys for first [team], second [team] or honorable mention. First time in my memory that I recall three running backs all getting nominated or actually getting some type of recognition.

When we were filling out the nomination ballots, I didn’t know what to do either with certain positions. To have six offensive linemen get recognized for all-conference play when there’s only five offensive linemen on the field at a time, I think, is a good indicator of why our offense has been so successful. And on the flip side of it, to really just have J.J. [Watt] recognized by both media and coaches and then also Antonio [Fenelus] with the media to show that, defensively we just maybe don’t have the marquee players, but a lot of guys that play together, and Saturday was a great example of that.

So moving forward, we’ll take this week to kind of recuperate, we’ll condition them, but we won’t practice again until Saturday with a developmental practice. We’ll practice Sunday afternoon with everybody, just do some good versus good and get in the flow of things, and then give them a little bit of time there again, because we really won’t know who we’re playing until Sunday and have an opportunity to bring the coaches back off the road on Wednesday and put in a good week’s worth of work.

Whoever our bowl prep is, from a breakdown and analyzing it and just putting together a game plan. This is always a difficult time because our coaches are on the road with recruiting, our players are involved with finals and moving forward with the close of the semester, so it’s always a balancing act. But the good thing is you’re at Wisconsin, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to do that.

With that, I’ll open up for any questions. I will say Friday night, put a plug out there, but I do think it’s something that the fans would really enjoy [the 2010 Wisconsin Football Awards Show]. It’s very unique, kind of model it off after the ESPY’s, kind of a theme of video, you’ll have one-on-one interviews with players, players’ parents, I believe Blake Sorensen and Lance Kendricks’ parents will both be interviewed and have an interesting perspective there. So just some really neat things to give the fans a unique experience in the inside of our program. And the best thing is it’s free, so that should make everybody happy.

QUESTION #1: Bret, after the game Saturday, you said that, you told the guys, you told the guys that no need to wait another 10 years for something like this to happen. You kind of joked about it. But with one game, obviously yet this year, but looking at the players you have in the pipeline who will be expected to take on greater roles in the future, are you encouraged by what you see at this point?

BIELEMA: Yeah. It was interesting, on Monday, I had a chance to kind of go back through some things, and one of the things I do is keep a daily journal on what we do as a program. When I met with the team last night at 5:30, one of the things I’ve done over the last three years was kept a core group of guys behind and basically talked about how important developmental work was going to be for this bowl prep and stuff. Two years ago, the list was comprised of, one that stood out was Scott Tolzien, Lance Kendricks, in the back end, Niles Brinkley, Culmer St. Jean, Blake Sorensen, Ricky Wagner.

Last year’s group was Ricky Wagner again, Bradie Ewing, Montee Ball, Jake Byrne, Patrick Butrym, guys that really came through this year. So the group that I held back last night, there was eight defensive players and I believe seven offensive players. And when the room cleared, and I kept those guys there, I said, ‘What do you guys all have in common?’ And there were guys that were second string and in a position to become bigger players. And that’s the part that I think, as a head coach, I’ve really felt better about over the last couple seasons is just knowing where you needed to get work done to be where you needed to be down the line.

I’ll share another story. I told our guys in fall camp before two years ago, I had worn a ring that we got for our first year of 12-1 ring when I would see Coach [Barry] Alvarez and his whole staff and players from that era with their Rose Bowl rings, and I wasn’t a part of that. Never was, obviously. And my first year I wore that 12-1 ring, because I thought it was a special year. But it wasn’t a championship year, and I told our guys two years ago in fall camp, I’m never going to wear a ring again until it’s one of our championship rings.

And to sit down today with the ring guy and have an opportunity to kind of design it and move forward is kind of a neat thing.

QUESTION #2: Along those lines, Bret, are there benefits to winning a title, you know, that lets the guys know what they have to do to get to that level? You know, are there tangible benefits that way?

BIELEMA: There are. And I’m going to let our seniors talk about that. I let them talk during the course of our bowl preparation. It was interesting when I met with them last night, and we were going through different bowl items. In the past, they love the gifts but they didn’t necessarily want the bowl memorabilia on it. And they want whatever this bowl game is to be on the forefront of every gift they have, and that’s the reflection on saying it’s a championship year. I know it means a lot to our players, coaches and especially our fans.

QUESTION #3: Do you attribute what David Gilreath has been able to contribute this year to the fact that he’s probably healthier than he was a year ago, I mean, specifically with the feet?

BIELEMA: I would say with his feet and confidence. David’s a guy that needs the confidence to do it. When he took that kick for Ohio State, you could just see him begin to get a feel for things that he had never seen before, and he’s done it a lot. But to finally have that one, and I’ll go full circle too back to last year against Northwestern when he finally took that one to the house and the confidence he had. And again, I thought Joe Rudolph and Chris Ash and the punt return game really did a nice job of game planning some things this year.

QUESTION #4A: Bret, you said after each of the last two games you thought this team could play with anybody. What about this team has kind of brought you to that line of thinking? What have they done?

BIELEMA: I know I did after this one. I thought the one before, I said we were a very, very good team.

QUESTION #4B: Close . . .

BIELEMA: I appreciate what you’re saying. I did say that at the end of the year, because I really wanted to make that statement, that in my opinion, there’s all these bowl considerations and I’ve been on quite a few radio, national radio shows over the last 24 hours, 48 hours, I believe this team can play with anybody in the country. And simply for, really for me there are three things.

First off, we lead the nation in fewest penalized. That means we’re not beating ourselves. We led the Big Ten in turnover margin, but also led the country in fewest giveaways, which means you’re not killing yourself. As big as a giveaway is, bad thing for an offense, it’s really bad for a defense, because now you’re taking the field after a sudden change.

And then just the way that we play four quarter games and close out things, the way our backups are playing. Everybody wants to write Bielema or Wisconsin is running up the score. Those are our twos and threes that are going out there and playing very, very well, and that’s the guys that fill in for Lance Kendricks when he goes down the back of the end zone and can’t come back in the game. It’s the Montee Ball that started off as our third string running back and won games for us. That’s the stuff that gives me an indication that we could have success against a lot of people.

QUESTION #5A: To your knowledge, if you play in the Rose Bowl, how many possible opponents are there?

BIELEMA: I don’t know that.

QUESTION #5B: You don’t know that?

BIELEMA: No, no. The Rose Bowl, people were very positive with us, but I don’t think anything could be clarified until Sunday.

QUESTION #6: What are you looking for in a bowl opponent? I mean, with a team like this, do you look for the highest rank team or a reputation? What do you really look for in an opponent?

BIELEMA: If we play in a BCS game, which every indication shows us that we are, any opponent we’re going to get is going to be good. I’m sure every fan is going to weigh in on who they would like to play, but for us to get to that destination, whoever it is, lock in, and have an opportunity to prep for them. It’s obviously going to be somebody that we probably haven’t played yet this year which brings a whole new set of challenges, but it’s going to have to be whatever it is.

QUESTION #7: I think you also said after the game that at some point, you’re going to have to sit down with some of your guys who might have the option of pursuing the NFL next year. How difficult is that going to be or, first of all when do you start the process and how difficult is it going to be given the NFL labor situation and the uncertainty?

BIELEMA: That’s a good question. There are three guys that were kind of on my radar going back to last spring, Nick [Toon], J.J. [Watt] and John [Clay]. I brought their parents in. They went through the same talk I talked about all the seniors with. We’ll sit down with them this week, and there’s an opportunity that the NFL gives you to find out and get information about where you potentially could be drafted. I’m assuming all three of those guys are going to want to go forward with that option. I talked to J.J. yesterday. And then it’s just information gathering.

I think there is an interesting perspective this year, not only making a decision to come out or not come out, but in the bigger picture, there may not be a season, and that’s when things could really get complicated. And I feel bad for the kids because, really, the information and every NFL person I’ve dealt with and had contact with basically says the information that they’re going to want to have they won’t have available to them by Jan. 14, which is the declaration day to come out.

QUESTION #8: Hey, Coach, is there a scenario that you’ve seen or has been laid out for potential to play in a national title game?

BIELEMA: Just different things that I’ve read or seen or people have pointed out to me. It would take obviously a change in vote, because TCU doesn’t play anymore and other things to happen to the teams in front of them, but the world of college football has been crazy ever since I’ve been involved.

QUESTION #9: You know, another talk around is a plus one scenario. And in a plus one scenario, where you guys stand in the BCS standings, if that’s the way that it would move forward, you know, it would be to debate, considering a lot of people and the voters consider you the top number one, the number one team with one loss in the country.

BIELEMA: Yeah. It can go on record, I know I said this in the past, I’ve always been a big fan of  playing a plus one game, but this is the world that we live in, and I’m a big fan of the bowl alliance and the BCS and everything that goes forward. I think it’s a fun thing to talk about, but you know what, to get to that game, we’d have to win our game. The thing that I love about our guys is they really do just love playing the game and competing and moving ourselves forward.

So it’s been fun. I’ve heard from a lot of coaches around the country, a lot of media, that they feel that we’re playing as good as anybody out there. So it’s not just an opinion of me or people that have been in this room, it’s I think a lot of general sentiment out there amongst people that really follow college football.

QUESTION #10: Do you have to do any lobbying this week, at this point, with not going out on the field again on Saturday?

BIELEMA: Yeah, I’m not afraid to get in front of a mic. It’s not usually one of my most enjoyable things, but this week I specifically stayed off the road and recruiting. We’re kind of where we need to be there. I wanted to be available to anybody that needed to talk. I think that what we’ve done has been able to turn some people’s heads and against the people that we’ve been playing down the stretch. We had our big surge there in the middle with Ohio State, Iowa, I get it, but to play the way we have and to play as efficiently as we have, I think has really turned a lot of eyes towards Wisconsin.

QUESTION #11: Coach, you said to get to that game, you got to play your next game. Now that that next game is over and it’s essentially out of your hands, what do you tell yourself, what do you tell the players knowing that there’s really nothing that you can do at this point to get to the Rose Bowl or get to the title game or, God forbid, you don’t wind up going to either of those? Is it frustrating at this point? What do you tell the players?

BIELEMA: Yeah. We were all about playing Northwestern to get to where we are. I told the team last night, I really like that they take this week to reflect on why this has happened, understand. There’s a quote that I put up last spring, “to get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” And that was something that we took last spring, showed it at various times during winter conditioning, showed it at the beginning of fall camp. I want kids to understand this didn’t just happen by chance, and to take this week and really absorb why they specifically played well. If you’re on the offensive side of the ball, why they played well, defense respectively, special teams. Don’t just let that thing go by, learn from it.

As far as where we stand on national polls, there is nothing we can do. We don’t ever worry about things we can’t control, and this is just another one of those issues. I don’t think we’ll be left out of the BCS mix. I’m pretty sure of that.

QUESTION #12A: Bret, back to the Northwestern game for a second. Do you remember Montee [Ball]’s run around the left side, the touchdown? Do you remember [Bradie] Ewing’s block on that play?


QUESTION #12B: Okay. If you do what he did in that play, what does that say to you about the way he’s playing and the way your fullbacks, offensive linemen, and tight end have taken to blocking this year?

BIELEMA: I think that is a great one-snap example of the determination and the athleticism of Bradie Ewing. He has played at a level, I said it to the team two weeks ago, because when we gave the MVPs for the Michigan game, we gave it to that group you just said. We did offensive line, the tight ends, and the fullbacks. Bradie Ewing is playing as good of football at the fullback position that I’ve ever seen played, not just here at Wisconsin, but just overall. He’s athletic, he’s big, he’s physical, he’s mean, and he knows his assignments, and he’s making himself a lot of money for the future, because what he plays is a very unique position that the NFL wants, and there’s just not many guys that can play it as efficiently as he has.

And then just that overall group, I think I got a group of coaches in Coach [John] Settle, Coach [Joe] Rudolph, and Coach [Bob] Bostad that emphasize the details of blocking. It’s not just getting a hat on it, it’s staying on it and maintaining it. I think that’s the part that has separated us and allowed us to have big plays is our linemen and our blockers, tight ends and fullbacks included, have been able to maintain blocks. And now all the sudden, the running back, Montee [Ball] is really good and patient about reading and getting through.

I did an interview with Mike Leach this morning. I said some of those are Texas Tech scores, and he started laughing. A lot of people think you got to be that type of offense to score that many points, but we’ve had a lot of big runs here in the last four, five games because of the way our people are blocking.

QUESTION #13: A chance for you to lobby on a different, but one of the things that people are voting on right now is the play of the year, and it seems like you have a number of candidates that anybody could pick from that would be equally as good. What would you pick or vote for as the play of the year for this team?

BIELEMA: I said it after the game, and I said it during our off week, I said it again two weeks ago, I believe, to the team. To me, the favorite play, in my opinion, is the play by Shelton Johnson and Dezmen Southward, the touchdown saving tackle against Arizona State. You guys asked the question, “how big was that play?” after the game. I said, “I can tell you at the end of the year.” Obviously, it’s huge right now. So that’s my favorite, but it’s probably not a sexy play out there, so I’m sure the other ones are going to get more votes.

QUESTION #14: And right now, you have about as much time before your next game as you did when you start fall camp before the season even starts. So do you treat this period in some sense like it’s fall camp again, starting over from ground up?

BIELEMA: It will be a lot like that after this weekend. I’ve wanted to give this week for guys to get their life in order and get them healthy and stuff, but we approach bowl camp or bowl season a lot like fall camp. I learned that from Coach [Barry] Alvarez. We’ll do a lot of good versus good, even though if we play a team that’s not traditionally like us offensively, we’ll still play good/good just to get the speed of the game and really move forward. My goal is to get in probably anywhere from 15 to 18 practices and have five to six of those be development only, which is for our younger guys coming back.

QUESTION #15: Bret, you’ve referred to your defense as the Bad News Bears. Could you explain that?

BIELEMA: You know the little TV show, the movie, a motley crew that all came together and played really good football. I’m not making any reference to their coaching that they got in that movie, but I just kind of say it’s just a group that a lot of people don’t know who they were going into the season, don’t necessarily know a lot about them. J.J. Watt has become a household name now because of the way he’s played. Aaron Henry has really developed as a playmaker, but those guys just really band together well and play extremely intelligent football. They make great adjustments during the course of the game.

I know Culmer St. Jean one time during, I heard him about a year, I think it was last year during spring ball yell something, he said “we all we got,” and that’s really what it is. We don’t have a large number of guys, but it’s a bunch of guys that play very well together.

QUESTION #16: Bret, if things stay the way they are, do you have any sympathy or empathy for Michigan State, and did you receive any back in 2006?

BIELEMA: No, I didn’t hear from anybody back in 2006, I know that, but I do appreciate exactly where Michigan State is. I made a couple comments. I got reprimanded, coach got on me a little bit. Hey, these is the rules, you got to live by it, because it’s frustrating. You’re an 11-1 football team, and you are the outside in looking into the BCS. I have a tremendous amount of respect for [Mark] Dantonio. They beat us. I think, I understand exactly where they’re coming from.

Now one thing I didn’t do, I didn’t go public about it. I stayed pretty quiet about it until, I made a little jab later on in the spring, but I think it’s frustrating for you because you work so hard and you want to have this opportunity, and to be denied because of that rule is something that’s unfortunate.

QUESTION #17: Can you talk about some of the freshmen who haven’t played who have caught your eye, specifically Warren Herring and maybe a couple other guys too?

BIELEMA: Yeah, that’s a great point. Probably a better question maybe two weeks from now but I think Warren Herring has changed his body physically, that I think he’s really going to be able to help us next year. I’ve said this before, Dallas Lewallen has been a very impressive player in fall camp who I think will be able to come in and make an impact next year and play extremely well. Travis Frederick, who obviously you guys know a little bit about, is playing as good of football as any of our interior linemen right now, and he’s not even playing. He’s really good. He’s so strong and physical. He’s a bit nasty himself.

I think on the defensive side of the ball, you’re going to really see guys like Pat Muldoon, who’s playing a little bit now. Pat has been very encouraging. Dezmen Southward. But of the freshmen, a couple guys, Joey Brennan, a quarterback, Joey has looked really good against our defense, throwing the ball around. Sherard Cadogan, who we almost played. He’s playing the tight end/fullback, I really get excited about what I’m seeing from him.

A couple of linebackers that have jumped off, Cody Byers and Josh Harrison, two kids from Ohio that I think are going to be some guys that will hop into the mix next year in a short amount of time. And then at wide receiver, we got a cast of characters. Marquis Mason from here in Madison has turned my head on several occasions this year. He’s been playing with a broken thumb, making grabs. He’s big, he’s athletic, physical. Chase Hammond and then Isaiah Williams is probably the guy that’s the most athletic out of the group, and when he wants to play, he can really play.

QUESTION #18: TCU’s season is done, you guys are done, but if you don’t play TCU, if you play another team that is going to play next weekend, does another week off for you guys make a difference? I mean, that extra week, you guys have a longer layoff.

BIELEMA: Yeah, I get it. I’m not a big believer in that. We wanted to extend our season, which we did going to the Thanksgiving weekend, which we haven’t done in the past. If it was two weeks, you begin to get a little concerned about it, but I’m not, just because I’ll go back to my first year again. We had a longer layoff than Arkansas, we went out there and took care of business. So I think it’s about the preparation. You have to adjust to the time. Last year, we had a very short window because of our early bowl game and played very well in the Miami game, so I think it’s just about how you handle your business.

QUESTION #19: Last year, probably, because you guys are going to have a championship game now, are you glad, are you relieved that there’s going to be a championship game in the Big Ten . . .

BIELEMA: Yeah. If it panned out kind of like where it is now, we’d be playing Michigan State in the championship game and that would be a lot of fun. I would love to have that opportunity again just for our kids, I think they think that way. But, yeah, next year should be very exciting time in the league.

QUESTION #20: Bret, has anything Ricky Wagner has done going from reserve to starter and the way he’s playing right now, anything he’s done surprised you?

BIELEMA: Well, it hasn’t surprised me, because I see it every day, but there is not a kid in our program that has come as far as he has and playing at the level he is. It’s unprecedented. Ricky Wagner, as you know, but I believe played one year of high school football, went through some trials and tribulations, and came in here as a 235-pound tight end. He’s basically put on 90 pounds and is playing as good as anybody on our line.

Gabe [Carimi] has the name and the accolades of the past, and my hope is that he wins the Outland trophy, and he’s playing very well, but you throw those two guys on film, and you really don’t see much difference in the way they’re playing. [Wagner] just goes about it. You guys have probably tried to interview him; he is as quiet as quiet gets. Of all the kids, when I brought him in in fall camp and told them they were going to receive a scholarship, the feeling that you got in giving that to him was very special. He got very emotional. You could tell it meant something to him, and it will carry a deeper meaning to him that goes beyond words.

Ricky Wagner will be a three-year starter in this program, and my guess is, in two years, he’ll be up for all the same type of recognition that Gabe is.

QUESTION #21: Coach, just where are you injury-wise leading into the . . .

BIELEMA: Pretty good. I know John [Clay] got in there a little bit. We would have loved to get him in there a little bit more, but by the time that game got that situation we didn’t feel good about putting him in there. Lance Kendricks, I saw him last night. He felt a lot better, shouldn’t have any issues with him. If we really had anybody that wouldn’t practicing on Saturday, and the only guy that might be limited a little bit is Antonio Fenelus with an ankle, but he should be 100 percent back into it and not have any issues. And that’s really about it.

QUESTION #22: Bret, under the category of good problems to have, John back 100 percent, what do you do in terms of game planning here with three healthy runningbacks?

BIELEMA: Well, I think when we do resume, John will be 100 percent. He just hasn’t been able to practice at the level we want, and so, but the guy is one of the finalists for the Doak Walker [Award], he’s a second team All-Big Ten, and we’re having a conversation about getting him in the game. So it is difficult, but I think we’ll be set on things moving forward. Those three guys are all a little bit unique, so they all kind of have their own little package. And all three of them, it’s funny, I came into film last week on Tuesday, and they’re all in there watching film. You go to dinner, and they’re all three sitting down there together, so it’s a special group.

QUESTION #23: Going back to Saturday, Bret, just on a personal level for you, being part of teams as a player to win a Big Ten title and now on the other side as a coach, did you have any flashbacks with the guys on the sidelines, the players, and maybe how those two experiences kind of compare?

BIELEMA: I was able to be with two good friends of mine, Jimmy Hartlieb, who lives here in Madison, and Paul Kujawa, two guys I played with at Iowa when we won a Big Ten title. I introduced Paul to several people that night, and he’s the guy that scored the winning touchdown to put us in the Rose Bowl. And he always felt a lot of pride and sense in that. When we won the championship, I was a reserve defensive linemen, so I wasn’t out there every day. It’s not even close. To sit here as a head coach and to win a championship, you feel pretty good. I think you got to keep the balance and the humility of this is nothing that you can be satisfied with, but to see this come full circle.

As a head coach, what I’m really proud of, least penalized team in the country, turnover margin. It won’t be released until Thursday, but we’ll set a school record again in Academic All-Big Ten performance. Then probably the biggest thing is to see some individual guys being recognized as the best in the country. I mean, to say that we have one of the three best tight ends in college football, one of the three best offensive linemen in college football, to be one of the three best running backs in college football, to be one of the five best [senior] quarterbacks in the country, and Scott Tolzien with the Unitas Award. J.J. Watt [is] up for the Hendricks and Lott Award. To have five marquee players out of 22 starters, to know that you recruited them and you developed them and they’re buying into what you’re doing, that’s very, very rewarding as a coach.

QUESTION #24: Earlier in the year, when you were asked seemingly every week about the three-headed monster of the running back, and you told the story of . . . games just of a fan trying to say get John Clay the ball more, he needs to play more, and you explained to him that he was fresh and healthy at the end. Are you hearing from that gentleman or fans like that anymore, that I see it now, I get it, I understand?

BIELEMA: No. I think everybody now just, maybe when they didn’t know if you knew how to coach or if they thought they could do it better, but when you’re sitting in the position that we are, I think everybody just pats you on the back and says good job. I [don’t] get a lot of advice out there. I shouldn’t say that. I still get advice all the time.

QUESTION #25: What’s the little bit of playing time done for [Jon] Budmayr, and are you going to get him extra work in bowl?

BIELEMA: Yeah. Jon would be one of those guys developmental-wise that has to take a big step forward. Jon, Joey [Brennan], obviously because of Curt [Phillips’] situation, where he’s at. Those two guys need a lot of work. The thing I loved about Jon is I could notice a difference from the first time we put him into the game to the end of the game against Indiana. The first thing he said, he came over, he took that sack, and the first thing he said to me, he was all rattled up, and he goes, “I didn’t want to do anything stupid. I didn’t want to do anything stupid in the red zone,” and that’s huge. And now he’s been there, he’s done that, experienced it. So to get that experience for him was really, really good.

QUESTION #26: Bret, can you appreciate the fact that there’s probably millions of Wisconsin fans sitting out there seeing national championship game and Wisconsin in the same paragraph, maybe not the same sentence, but the same paragraph. Can you kind of get your, understand how people might look at that and go, that’s amazing?

BIELEMA: Well, I think it’s real. For this team, I would say that it could play with anybody in the country. I think that’s not just me filibustering or getting up here and saying things that aren’t reality. For fans to grab a hold of that is probably new. It’s kind of like when Wisconsin gets accused of running up a score. I mean, that’s absurd when you think about it. Because of what, it’s reality, they see it in front of them, because the Wisconsin fans watch the game.
They realize that when those scores, those numbers were up, it was because we were running the football. I know we can go back to the one throw to [Jared] Abbrederis, but I mean to do what we did, the 48 points against Michigan and run the ball 29 straight times, that’s a great sign. But again, it’s just who we are, and it’s real. You can’t deny what’s real.

QUESTION #27: Do you expect Paul Chryst to be a hot commodity after this season, and does he want to be a head coach at the college level, and would you promote that, you know?

BIELEMA: I’ll promote any of my guys, not just Paul. I understand where you’re coming from. One of the other awards that’s out there right now for players and coaches, Paul’s been nominated as one of the five best assistant coaches in the country with the Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award, and he’s in some pretty good company there. I called the director of that this morning because I wanted to know what his chances and if I could do anything to help him win the award, just as I do with my current players. So Paul is a very good coach.

Due to the help of Coach [Barry] Alvarez and the administration and the University, a couple years back, with the Dallas [Cowboys] situation, you guys all know that, and document it, obviously there’s a change in venue down there. The same guy that wanted him is now the head coach so at a certain level I can’t compete dollars-wise, but I can compete with quality of living. To be an assistant coach on my staff, I think if you asked those guys, and even if you were off record or on record, I think our staff enjoys working together.

I love the families. Coach Chryst has two beautiful daughters and a son, Danny, that I think mean the world to him. So it’s just not being a head coach for Paul, it’s about being a ball coach, but he’s also a great father and a great husband. So I think that all factors into it. I do know that, I’ve been contacted already about several opportunities for especially my two coordinators. So I mean, I’m not going to bury my head in the sand, but on the same account I’m not going to just lose them just to lose them.

One of my favorite stories, Jerry Jones called that day when Paul was under consideration, and I was golfing in Naples then. I was on my second hole, and I had hit a pretty good drive, and I snuck a five iron about 10 feet from the hole, and the phone rings. And this lady says, ‘I’m looking for Bret Belema.’ I’m like, ‘okay.’ ‘Jerry Jones wants to talk to you.’ I said, ‘Jerry Jones wants to talk to me?’ ‘Yeah.’ I said, well, I knew what it was about, so I get on, and he gave me some grief about beating Arkansas, his alma mater, and I said, ‘Coach, I know why you’re here. You want to hire my offensive coordinator, right? I know why you’re calling me.’ He goes, ‘Yes. We’d like to fly him down.’

I said, ‘Well, fly him down.’ I go, ‘If we could have this issue resolved before Saturday, right now he’s working for me, and I’m meeting him in Las Vegas at a coaches convention. If we could get everything taken care of from then, I’m looking at a 10-foot birdie putt. I want to sink it.’ And I said, ‘Okay,’ and he said, ‘yeah.’ I looked at my buddy, I said, ‘I just hung up on Jerry Jones.’ But the good thing is, they work for me, work for us. That’s something that I’ve put a lot of thought into.

QUESTION #28: And the putt?

BIELEMA: Made it.

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