Bret Bielema Leaving Giants, Named Illinois Head Coach

The Giants have lost a key member of their coaching staff. Outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema is heading to the University of Illinois as the school’s next head coach (via an announcement from the school).’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that it’s a six-year contract beginning at $4.2MM per year. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reports (via Twitter) that defensive assistant Jody Wright and inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer “will inherit Bielema’s responsibilities” in New York.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Bielema, as the 50-year-old was born in Prophetstown, Illinois and previously coached in the Big 10.

“Illinois and the Big Ten is home for me, and I can’t be any more excited about the opportunity in front of me with the Fighting Illini,” Bielema said. “We want to build a program that makes Illini Nation proud and regain the passion that I’ve seen when Illinois wins.”

Illinois fired previous head coach Lovie Smith last weekend. The former Bears and Buccaneers head coach spent four-plus seasons with the school, collecting a 17-39 record.

Bielema worked his way up the coaching ladder and eventually landed the head coaching job at Wisconsin in 2006, a role he held for seven years. He was a Big 10 champion for three of those seasons, and he finished his stint with a 68-24 record. He left for Arkansas in 2013, but he was fired after leading his team to a 29-34 record over five seasons.

He joined the Patriots staff in 2018, and he followed Joe Judge to New York this past offseason. Over the past two years, he’s continued to garner interest from college programs, including Michigan State, Colorado, and Southern Miss.

It’s been a busy week for the Giants coaching staff. We learned that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was going to miss this weekend’s game after testing positive for COVID-19. Former Browns head coach (and current Giants tight ends coach) Freddie Kitchens will take over play-calling duties against his former team. Quality control coach Bobby Blick will be serving as tight ends coach for the game.

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13 comments on “Bret Bielema Leaving Giants, Named Illinois Head Coach

  1. JJB0811

    Sorta like the North Western job. You don’t have to compete for the big bowls, but January bowls will keep you employed.

  2. RockHauler

    Surprised the Giants would let him out of his contract only a day before the game, with only 3 games to go in the season and, like the article says making a push for the playoffs? Many assistants get college jobs during the season, but fulfill their commitments before taking over. Strange Timing to me. Wonder if he’s going to hire Colombo as the O-Line coach?

    • I give no fox

      This is just speculation, but I imagine with covid that every second counts when it comes to recruiting. So he probably cannot afford to wait until the giants season is over, which could be well into January if they make the playoffs

  3. Wow, like $25 million. I guess I’m ignorant of how much money a terrible program like University of Illinois Football has because that seems like an insane amount of money. You could hire some random guy for $150,000 to go 3-8 or whatever and save yourself a ton of money.

    • Michael Chaney

      Even MAC schools usually start out at around $400,000-500-000 a year, so in the Big Ten you’d probably be looking at a million or more even for some random scrub.

      Bielema was a flop at Arkansas, but he was great in the Big Ten and Illinois doesn’t have the same expectations that a program like Wisconsin had. I think he’ll do well there.

      • I agree with you Michael. Looks like a very good fit for both Bielema and U of Illinois. Financial security for his family as well. Happy for the man.

    • seaver41

      Pocket change to the university- this is about the financial supporters of the program demanding improvement so paying this guy is almost irrelevant if the boosters keep funding

  4. forwhomjoshbelltolls

    $4.2 million a year for a nobody coach at an irrelevant school, but can’t pay the players.

    Is there a better business model than college football?

    • TJECK109

      Get real already. Anyone who has a name or previous experience is going to garner an good contract. Doesn’t mean it’s right. You want to pay the players that this coach and his staff recruited? Do players get fired? Or lose their pay if benched? I agree with a monthly stipend but this is a stupid argument.

      When you got athletes on free rides making the school millions of dollars vs your average worker helping their companies make money with no additional free scholarships etc it’s just a mute point to me. Everyone wants something for free. Ask the medical student that is going to help save lives saddled with hounded thousand in debt vs an athlete who will never go pro getting a free ride.

      Priorities in this country are so screwed up when we are more concerned with free ride athletes getting paid.

  5. Yep it is

    In the lottery be being the Head Coach at Texas or Arizona. Both over pay big time for mediocre coaching then fire you half way thru and you wind up making as much not coaching as coaching.

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