University of Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema will be the speaker at this year’s Mississippi Bowl Banquet. The event, which is closed to the public, will be hosted Dec. 2 at the MGCCC Hospitality & Resort Management Center on the Jefferson Davis Campus on the city line between Gulfport and Biloxi.
Bielema has been the Razorbacks head coach since 2012. He won three straight conference championships during his time as head coach at Wisconsin from 2006-12. He’s coached 39 NFL Draft picks, including three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson and No. 1 overall draft pick and eight-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.
Backed by his “Five Edges” to success, Bielema represented the qualities Arkansas was looking for: a leader of young men who holds student-athletes responsible both on and off the field and a coach who has a proven record of winning championships.
Bielema’s recruitment philosophy of building a program on “uncommon” men have yielded record-setting results in the classroom. Arkansas posted a 2.94 team GPA in the spring of 2015, the highest mark on record. Helping build the record-setting team GPA were 40 student-athletes on the Southeastern Conference Fall Academic Honor Roll, good for the most in the conference. During Bielema’s three seasons, Arkansas leads the SEC with 100 student-athletes on the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll, while the 40 honorees in 2015 is the most by one school since he joined the league.
His previous coaching positions include being Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator in 2004-05 under Barry Alvarez and holding the same position for Bill Snyder’s Kansas teams in 2002-03. Bielema was a graduate assistant and then linebackers coach at Iowa between 1994 and 2001, working for Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz.
Bielema lettered at Iowa from 1989-92 after walking on. He played on Iowa’s 1990 Big Ten championship team, started as a junior in 1991 and was a co-captain as a senior. He signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks and played in the Arena Football League.
A 1992 graduate of Iowa with a degree in marketing, Bielema married his wife, Jen, on March 10, 2012.
Mississipi Bowl speakers
2016: Bret Bielema, Arkansas coach
2015: Deuce McAllister, former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints running back
2014: Gus Malzahn, Auburn coach
2013: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State coach
2012: Jackie Sherrill, former Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Pitt coach
2011: Brig. Gen. Andy Mueller, Keesler Air Force Base
2010: Brig. Gen. Andy Mueller, Keesler Air Force Base
2009: George Schloegel, Gulfport mayor
2008: A.J. Holloway, Biloxi mayor