Bret Bielema is moving from the Big Ten to the Southeastern Conference, and Gus Malzahn is returning to Auburn — this time to run the Tigers.
Arkansas released a statement Tuesday night saying Bielema has agreed to a deal to take over the program reeling following the firing of former coach Bobby Petrino.
A person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information hasn't been released publicly, says the deal is for six years and $3.2 million annually.
Bielema, Barry Alvarez's hand-picked successor at Wisconsin, was 68-24 with the Badgers, with four double-digit win seasons. He coached Wisconsin to a 17-14 victory over Arkansas in his first season at the Capital One Bowl.
"His tough, aggressive style of play has been successful and will be appealing to student-athletes and Razorback fans," Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. "He not only shares the vision and values for the future of Arkansas football, he embraces them."
Bielema is leaving the Big Ten for the SEC and a Razorbacks program that opened the year with hopes of challenging for a national championship only to get mired in the Petrino scandal before stumbling to a 4-8 finish.
The move was the second stunning hire this year at Arkansas, which brought in John L. Smith as the interim coach after firing Petrino for hiring his mistress to work in the athletic department. Long announced after the season that Smith wouldn't return.
Bielema seems likely to bring a far different approach than what the Razorbacks have become accustomed to. Arkansas continually ranked among the Southeastern Conference's best passing teams under Petrino while Bielema is known for his dominant offensive lines and slew of running backs.
"During my conversation with Jeff (Long), he described the characteristics for the perfect fit to lead this program," Bielema said in a statement. "It was evident we share the same mission, principles and goals."
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball tied Barry Sanders' long-standing single-season record of 39 touchdowns last year, and this year became the FBS career leader in touchdowns. He currently has 82 touchdowns after running for three Saturday night in the Big Ten title game against Nebraska — a 70-31 romp that secured the Badgers third straight trip to the Rose Bowl, where they will play Stanford on Jan. 1.
The 42-year-old Bielema was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin for two years before being promoted to head coach in 2006. He played for Iowa and started his coaching career there as an assistant under Hayden Fry and later Kirk Ferentz.
The Illinois native takes over a program still reeling following the April scandal, one eager for stability and leadership.
"I'm excited about this decision," Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel tweeted.
The Razorbacks improved their win total in four straight seasons under Petrino, including a 21-5 mark in 2010-11, and finished last season ranked No. 5. They had talked openly in the spring about competing for the school's first SEC championship and perhaps a national title.
Then came the April 1 motorcycle accident that led to Petrino's downfall. The married father of four initially lied about being alone during the wreck, later admitting to riding with his mistress — a former Arkansas volleyball player he had hired to work in the athletic department.
Smith, who had been an assistant the last three seasons at Arkansas under Petrino, was chosen by Long to guide a team that returned first-team All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson and a host of other key playmakers. The decision was lauded by the Razorbacks, who welcomed the personable Smith back with open arms.
The season hit the skids with a stunning overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 8, starting a four-game losing streak that dropped Arkansas out of the rankings. The Razorbacks finished with the school's lowest win total since 2005, missing a bowl game for the first time since 2008.
Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn for three seasons under the coach the Tigers just fired, Gene Chizik.
With Malzahn running the offense, and Cam Newton playing quarterback, Auburn went 14-0 in 2010 and won a national title. Malzahn left to take the Arkansas State job after last season and Auburn finished 3-9 and 0-8 in the SEC without him.
He led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record, a Sun Belt Conference title and a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
"This is a homecoming for me and I look forward to being reunited with the Auburn family," he said.
The 47-year-old Malzahn returns with his fast-paced, no-huddle offensive style.
Boston College also filled its coaching vacancy, hiring Steve Addazio away from Temple.
Addazio, a Connecticut native, went 13-11 in two seasons with the Owls since taking over for Al Golden in Philadelphia.
Temple was 4-7 this season, it's first back in the Big East after five in the Mid-American Conference.
In his first season with the Owls, Addazio went 9-4 and won the New Mexico Bowl. Before taking over at Temple, Addazio worked as an assistant for Urban Meyer at Florida.
BC athletic director Brad Bates called the 53-year-old Addazio a "proven winner."
He replaces Frank Spaziani, who was fired after four seasons as head coach and 16 overall at BC. Spaziani went 22-29 during his time with the Eagles.