These problems have led to some Badger fans grumbling about Bielema's job status. While athletic director Barry Alvarez didn't want to formally place the coach on the hot seat, his comments paint a different picture.
Speaking to Tom Dienhart of Rivals, Alvarez makes it clear Bielema isn't on the hot seat, unless he is.
"Is Bret on the hot seat?" Alvarez says. "I wouldn't say he's on the hot seat. What happens if he goes 7-6 again? I think it depends on how you go 7-6. If it's coaching mistakes, it's different than if you lose tough ball games. Guys are playing solid football."Like a lot of Badger fans, Alvarez seems frustrated with his team's failures in close games. He also pointed the finger at the sideline conduct of his coaches. Bielema got headlines last season for taking a horrible 15-yard penalty while arguing a call in the Michigan State loss.
"Every penalty [we get], there is a head coach and nine assistants attacking the officials," Alvarez says. "The officials don't want to hear it. You aren't doing yourself any good and you send the wrong message to your players to where they end up making excuses. You should be the voice and tell your other coaches to be quiet.Alvarez is quite a figure in Madison. After his tenure as head football coach, it stands to reason that he pulls a lot of weight with the fanbase. His criticism of Bielema's behavior will be welcome in many circles, and his non-committal vote of confidence leaves the door open for what could be an interesting season if things don't go well.
"There are different ways to talk to officials and get to officials, but it isn't berating them every call. I told Bret I never had seen so many huddles with officials in my life than you had your last year or two. It is going to come back to haunt you, and I think he got much better about it."
Wisconsin starts the Big Ten season with road trips to Minnesota and Ohio State, followed by a home date against Iowa. That's hardly the best way to get going when you're facing a lot of pressure to perform.