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December 4, 2012

Bielema leaves Wisconsin, Hazell front-runner for Purdue

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It appears that the rivalry between Urban Meyer and Bret Bielema will be a short-lived one. That's because Yahoo! Sports reported earlier today that the seven-year Wisconsin head coach is leaving the Badgers, to accept the same position at Arkansas.

The move comes less than 72 hours after Bielema led Wisconsin to its third-consecutive Big Ten championship, defeating Nebraska by a score of 70-31 in the league's title game.

Yet despite winning a third conference crown in as many years, Bielema's Badgers missed out on the 2012 Big Ten Leaders Division championship, which was awarded to Meyer's Ohio State following its 21-14 overtime win over Wisconsin on Nov. 17. The Buckeyes' victory in Madison marked the culmination of what was perceived to be a 10-month rivalry between Meyer and Bielema, which began with last February's National Signing Day.

After former Wisconsin commit and Cleveland native Kyle Dodson opted to sign with Ohio State, Bielema accused to first-year Buckeyes coach of unethical recruiting tactics. Meyer denied any wrongdoing and ultimately chalked up the spat to a misunderstanding that was made to be more than it was by the media.

"We have a very, very good relationship.I think you'd have to ask coach, but we get along fine," Meyer said of Bielema at the Big Ten's media day in August. "We had a conversation about it at the Big Ten meetings, I believe it was in February. A lot of the things that were reported weren't said. We stand by exactly the way how we do things."

Meyer reiterated that there wasn't an existing issue between himself and Bielema in the days leading up to the Buckeyes' battle with the Badgers.

"I have a lot of respect for his team. Other than that, we're fine," Meyer said. "That was kind of a lot of stuff that was blown up. I've never had any issue other than they're a good team."

Bielema leaves Wisconsin having posted a 68-24 record during his time in Madison, including a 1-5 mark against Ohio State. It remains to be seen who will replace Bielema at Wisconsin or who will coach the Badgers against Stanford in the upcoming Rose Bowl.

Hazell boiling' up?

While one Big Ten coaching opening was created on Tuesday, another could be filled in the near future, by a coach with ties to Ohio State. GoldAndBlack.com has confirmed a report that Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell has emerged as Purdue's top choice to fill its head coaching vacancy, which was created when the Boilermakers let go of Danny Hope after four seasons in West Lafayette.

Prior to posting a 16-9 record in two seasons at Kent State, Hazell served as the Buckeyes' wide receivers coach from 2004-2010 under former OSU head coach Jim Tressel. His 11-2 mark with the Golden Flashes in 2012 helped him earn the Mid-American Conference's Coach of the Year award.

The Boilermakers will host the Buckeyes on Nov. 13, 2013.

UPDATE (6:31 p.m.): Per GoldAndBlack.com, "Hold up on the Darrell Hazell to Purdue talk."

UPDATE (9:38 p.m.): GoldAndBlack.com is now reporting that Hazell has accepted the position of head coach at Purdue.



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