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During Big Ten Media Day Bret Bielema said five key things



Five Takeaways from Bret Bielema at Big Ten Media Day
Jul 26, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema speaks to the media during Big 10 football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Five things Bret Bielema said during Big Ten Media Day

Illinois football head coach Bret Bielema took the podium last Wednesday. He said these are five essential things during his Big Ten Media Day time.

1. Bielema spoke about building and sustaining the success from 2022 during Big Ten Media Day:

Bielema said he was confident that last season’s team would be a bowl team. He wasn’t sure how many games they’d win, but he knew they would reach the postseason. Team chemistry is a significant indicator for Bielema. Observing body language during practice and games indicates how players are getting along.

Bielema talked with his current players about the new guys on the team and how glowingly they spoke about their new teammates.

When discussing sustained success, Bielema discussed how he broke down the 2022 season. He divided them into two groups; the 7-1 team and the 1-4 team. Bielema’s focus is everything about the 1-4 team. “We’ve got a lot of unfinished business, Bielema said. Last year we were an 8-5 team, but it broke up into a 7-1 crew and a 1-4 team.

2. The scandal at Northwestern and locker room culture:

Coach knows that he couldn’t comment on the circumstances in Evanston but made it clear that he did not understand what was going on there. Bielema spoke about their orientation program for first-year students and new students. One of the more interesting things he said was how coaches have to be involved in the lives of their players inside and outside the building.

“We have some things on the doors when you’re walking in and walking out that gives you a way to think about where you’re at and what you’re doing, and I couldn’t be happier.”

3. Setting down roots and making it work:

Bielema mentioned that he wanted this job to be his last job during Big Ten Media Day. “I wanted to get back into head coaching, but I didn’t want to go to a situation where I didn’t think it could be sustained. I wanted this to be my last rodeo. And I signed a contract without competition with anybody in the Big Ten because I know where I want to go.”

He did talk about how important it was to have a close relationship with Athletic Director Josh Whitman. Bielema wanted that relationship to be a partnership as they build and sustain this program. Bielema believes that Illinois can be a consistent winner and wants that to be his legacy as a head coach.

4. His relationship with Jim Leonhard:

Bielema and his new senior analyst Jim Leonhard met while Bielema was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Legendary Badgers head coach Barry Alvarez let his new defensive coordinator know who the leader on the defense was. “Jimmy and I first met, I became the defensive coordinator at the University of Wisconsin, and I remember walking in, and Coach Alvarez said, Hey, there’s one guy that you’ve got to talk to on the defensive side of the ball. If you get him to believe in what you’re doing, you’ll get the entire defense and the entire team to believe in you.”

Leonhard will be a senior analyst and is expected to be involved in all three phases of the game for the Illini. “I’m going to use him in all three phases. He won’t be with us on game days when we’re home or away. He’ll be in the office Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then he’ll go be with his family on the weekends.”

5. Taking his daughters to see the new Barbie movie:

He’s brought his two daughters lots of Barbie stuff, but they have not seen the movie yet. They’ll likely see the film soon. “We’re in the mermaid mode right now, so we’re still heavy into mermaids.”




Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.