A review of fan message boards in the wake of Wisconsin's upset win over Ohio State last Saturday reveals an interesting pattern. In praising head coach Bret Bielema for the win, the program's first over a No. 1-ranked opponent since 1981, several fans wrote "I'm not much of a Bielema guy" before giving the coach his due.
It's a common reaction. Among my friends who follow the Badgers, not many are impressed by Bielema. And now that he has this win, one grumbles, the UW will "never be able to get rid of him."
The most common complaint against Bielema concerns his alleged lack of personality, as shown by his discomfort with public speaking. Bielema's predecessor, Barry Alvarez, never expressed much vibrancy, either, but there's an aura of cool detachment behind those drowsy eyes. Bielema, on the other hand, can come off like a big jock raking through a limited vocabulary and coming up with clumps of clichés.
Presumably, fans would like more charisma from their coach. Maybe someone like Florida State's Bobby Bowden, who sounds good on radio and looks good on TV.
But ask Minnesota football fans how much they liked the always energetic Tim Brewster, who was fired as the Gophers head coach on Saturday after a home loss to Purdue. Brewster may be remembered more for his eventful press conferences than his 15-30 record after 3½ years.
So while Badger fans reluctantly praise their dull if effective coach, Gophers fans list "somebody like Bret Bielema" among their criteria for a new coach. There are worse things than being boring.