After Luke Fickell turned down Michigan State football, to whom will the Spartans turn? Here's our quick list. Wochit


As the Michigan State football coaching search took a dramatic turn Monday with Luke Fickell’s decision to stay at Cincinnati, a familiar name has surfaced as a potential alternative.

And according to a source with knowledge of the situation, former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has “definite” interest in succeeding Mark Dantonio, who retired Tuesday after 13 seasons.

Bielema led the Badgers to three consecutive Big Ten titles between 2010 and 2012 and went 68-24 in seven seasons in Madison. He is currently the outside linebackers coach and senior assistant for the New York Giants, joining the organization this offseason after Joe Judge was hired to replace Michigan State grad Pat Shurmur — another potential candidate for the Spartans opening.

As of Monday, there had been no contact between Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman and Bielema, the source said. 

More: MSU fans struggling to process Luke Fickell news: 'Timing was awful'

Before joining Judge’s staff, Bielema was the defensive line coach for the New England Patriots and arrived in the NFL after a five-year stint with the Razorbacks that ended with his dismissal.

Word is he is eager to return to the college game and has set his sights on the Big Ten, where he played at Iowa and achieved his most success as a head coach at Wisconsin.

MSU's search committee met Monday morning to discuss next steps, sources said, and the board of trustees will be briefed Monday night as previously scheduled. The  board of trustees is responsible for voting to approve any hire.

MSU has hired Glenn Sugiyama, a managing partner and global sports practice leader for DHR International in Chicago, to help guide its search. Sugiyama is an MSU alum.

Fickell was the front-runner to replace Dantonio. He met with Beekman and members of the MSU search party at his home in Cincinnati on Sunday, then pulled his name out of the running on Monday. 

According to sources, Fickell was never offered the job. However, it was made clear to him the job was his if he wanted it. 


Mark Dantonio's five biggest wins at Michigan State, where he went 114-57 in 13 seasons (2007-19). Detroit Free Press