Bret Bielema is the best option at this point for Michigan State football

Bret Bielema, New England Patriots. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Bret Bielema, New England Patriots. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

After missing on their top five candidates, Michigan State football should turn to former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema to be Mark Dantonio’s successor.

Bret Bielema might be the best option for Michigan State.

It hasn’t even been a week since Mark Dantonio collected a retention bonus and retired the day before National Signing Day. The Michigan State Spartans were a respectable Power 5 team under his watch until recently. Now Michigan State may be poised for a period of dysfunction after Dantonio’s delayed departure.

Five coaching candidates have told Michigan State, ‘thanks, but no, thanks’ about becoming the school’s next head football coach. Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell joins Matt Campbell (Iowa State), Pat Narduzzi (Pittsburgh), Robert Saleh (San Francisco 49ers) and Mel Tucker (Colorado) to form a quintet not willing to call East Lansing home.

Michigan State football is looking increasingly like the 2018 Tennessee Volunteers who had a prolonged and public coaching search. Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was the Vols’ ninth choice to replace Butch Jones. It got off to a rocky start in Rocky Top, but Pruitt has Tennessee football in its best spot in arguably a decade.

That’s what it is going to take for Michigan State in 2020. They will need to hit a home run on a third-tier candidate to bring them back to respectability. One name who might be a great fit for the Spartans is Bret Bielema. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman mentions the New York Giants assistant coach as a guy who could “re-energize that fanbase in a hurry”. Is Feldman onto something?

Before failing with the Arkansas Razorbacks, Bielema was a well-respected coach in the Big Ten. He won three-straight Big Ten Championships (2010-12) with the Wisconsin Badgers before leaving Madison for Fayetteville. Bielema went 68-24 (37-19) in seven years at Wisconsin.

Replacing the legendary Barry Alvarez on the Badgers sidelines was an almost impossible feat but Bielema more than lived up to it with a trio of Rose Bowl berths to close out his tenure in Madison.

It’s not just his success at Wisconsin that makes him a great candidate for the job. He played for the Iowa Hawkeyes under the late Hayden Fry. Big Ten football is in his blood. He would relish the opportunity to coach in the conference again.

Having been out of the spotlight since 2017, Bielema spent the last two seasons on Bill Belichick’s staff with the New England Patriots. This offseason, Bielema took a job on Joe Judge‘s staff with the New York Giants.

Should Michigan State name Bielema its next head coach, the Spartans will be getting an excellent head coach at a discount this late in the cycle. He’ll be coaching with a boulder on his shoulders after how things ended at Arkansas. Most importantly, he’ll give this program a great defensive identity and a pound-the-rock offense Spartan fans can get behind.

Bielema may not have been the best option to replace Dantonio, but he might be the best last option for Michigan State at this point. He’s Sparty’s only hope.

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