FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — The state's major college football programs each saw coaching developments Tuesday, with Arkansas hiring a new one and Arkansas State losing theirs.
Bret Bielema, who this season led Wisconsin to its third consecutive Rose Bowl berth as Big Ten champions, will take over a Razorbacks program that stumbled to a 4-8 record this year under interim coach John L. Smith. Former head coach Bobby Petrino was fired last spring for hiring his mistress and lying to his bosses.
Bielema, 42, had led with the Badgers for seven years, compiling a 68-24 record that includes a 17-14 victory over Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl following his first season. Wisconsin lost five games this season, but pounded Nebraska 70-31 for the conference title last Saturday. The Badgers will play Stanford on Jan. 1.
Arkansas won 21 games combined during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and lost only to No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 LSU a year ago. But an April 1 motorcycle accident unraveled Petrino's career, and he was fired within weeks. The Razorbacks lost to Louisiana-Monroe this year, starting a four-game skid from which they never recovered.
Arkansas State's head coach Gus Malzahn, 47, was poached by Auburn to restore a program that suffered through a 3-9 season. Two years ago, Auburn went 13-0 and won a national championship — with Malzahn as its offensive coordinator.
"We are tremendously excited that Gus Malzahn will be our next head football coach," athletic director Jay Jacobs said. "Coach Malzahn was the clear unanimous choice of our search committee."
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