Bret Bielema has a brutally honest Wisconsin admission

CHAMPAIGN, IL – AUGUST 28: Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema reacts after a game during the Big Ten Conference college football game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Illinois Fighting Illini on August 28 2021, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bret Bielema played an indirect role in his former employer’s change of head coach.

Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst after Saturday’s 34-10 loss to Bielema’s Illinois team. Chryst finished his tenure with the Badgers with 67 career wins, one less than Bielema won while coaching Wisconsin for seven seasons.

That bond hasn’t gone unnoticed, but Bielema also has strong ties to Fighting Illini’s next opponent. On Monday, according to 247Sports’ Jeremy Werner, Bielema joked that everyone should make a bigger deal about his Iowa connection instead.

Bielema was a defensive lineman for the Hawkeyes before joining his alma mater as a graduate assistant and linebackers coach. He also has a permanent memory of his old school.

“Heck, I got the tattoo, the infamous tattoo,” Bielema said. “Great idea when you’re 19.”

Bielema discussed the Tigerhawk tattoo when he was introduced as the new Illinois head coach last year. Although he acknowledged that it was “not so much” a good idea as it seemed in college, he expressed the importance of honoring his roots.

“I always say to our players, we all come from different parts of the country, from different homes, from different backgrounds, from different religions, from different communities,” Bielema said, via the Big Ten Network. “It’s important to know that you’re here because of that and that’s what made you who you are today.”

Illinois hosts Iowa this Saturday night in another personal Big Ten battle for Bielema.

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