FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long first met Bret Bielema while in Miami attending an end-of-season awards ceremony surrounding the 2005 national championship game.
Bielema was an up-and-coming assistant coach at Wisconsin, and Long was the athletic director at Pittsburgh, still a few years away from leaving to take over the Razorbacks program.
Little did Long know that he would one day hire Bielema to coach Arkansas, helping end what had been a spiraling eight months for the Razorbacks following the scandal-ridden exit of Bobby Petrino.
The end of a secretive search came to an end Tuesday when the former Wisconsin coach agreed to take over the Razorbacks. The 43-year-old was introduced at a news conference the next day, giving Arkansas hope it can return to the upper echelon of the Southeastern Conference.