Brett Belelema named Illinois Fighting Illini head coach

Illinois is hiring former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Brett Bellema to lead its football program, the school announced Saturday.

The 50-year-old, Bielema has spent the last three seasons as an NFL assistant, working with the New England countrymen this year for the New England Patriots. He had expressed interest in returning to the college level and was a candidate for the inauguration at both Michigan State and Colorado last year, and earlier this season on Southern Miss, according to sources.

Bevalema will receive a six-year contract with Illinois with a starting salary of $ 4.2 million.

Illinois, which fired coach Lonvi Smith last Sunday, also considered others including Buffalo coach Lance Leopold, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, who was 17 in five seasons at the school Were ahead by -39.

“Illinois and the Big Ten are home to me, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity with the Fighting Illini,” Bellema said in a prepared statement. “We want to build a program that makes the Illini Nation proud and recaptures the passion I’ve seen when Illinois wins.”

Bacelema won three consecutive Big Ten championships in Wisconsin from 2010 to 2012 and went 68-24 with five Top 25 finishes in seven seasons. He followed the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game to Arkansas, where he went 29–34 before being fired in 2017.

He grew up in Prophetstown, Illinois, and played a defensive role in Iowa, helping the Hawkeyes for a portion of the Big Ten title in 1990 (Illinois also shared the championship). Bezelma began his coaching career in Iowa before moving to Kansas State and then Wisconsin, where he was named the successor to Barry Alvarez after the 2005 season.

“Brett Bezlema is a proven winner,” athletic director Josh Whitman said in a prepared statement. “With three Big Ten championships to his credit, few coaches can match up with his familiarity, and within the Big Ten Conference. In our conversations, it became clear to me that he is a life-long learner who is constantly Growing. And improvement. “


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