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).
NFL.com’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.