Giants outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema has been hired as the next head coach at the University of Illinois, the university announced Saturday.
Bielema’s contract is a six-year, $25.2 million deal, and he will begin his duties immediately, beginning with attending Saturday’s game against Penn State. Inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer and defensive assistant Jody Wright will take over Bielema's duties with the outside linebackers for the rest of the season, according to the The Athletic’s Dan Duggan.
"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 in a release from the university. "We want to build a program that makes Illini Nation proud and regain the passion that I've seen when Illinois wins.”
Bielema spent 2020 as the Giants’ outside linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant after spending the previous two seasons on the Patriots’ staff, first as the ambiguous title of “Consultant to the head coach” before being named defensive line coach in 2019.
Bielema was the head coach at Wisconsin from 2006-2012 and at Arkansas from 2013-2017, compiling a 97-58 record as a NCAA head coach.
Bielema’s position group has been ravaged by injuries this year with Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter each out for the season. Kyler Fackrell is also currently on injured resereve. But the likes of Tae Crowder and Carter Coughlin have filled in admirably.