Illinois head football coach Bret Bielema signs contract extension through 2028


James Hoeck

Illinois head football coach Bret Bielema on the sideline during Illinois’ 2022 game against Virginia.

By Jonathan Alday, Assistant Sports Editor

After one of the biggest turnarounds in Illinois history, head coach Bret Bielema will be awarded a raise and extension, pending approval from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

At the beginning of the season, many analysts failed to see past a historically struggling Illinois program. However, ahead of their first New Year’s Day bowl appearance since 2002 and their best record since their 2007 Rose Bowl season, Bielema has turned Illinois into a threat on the national stage.

The Illinois defense became one of the best in the nation in numerous statistical categories and numerous players were in contention for national position awards. Bielema was named a George Munger National Coach of the Year semifinalist on Tuesday, added onto a coaching staff that has received national recognition for their work.

Throughout his two seasons as head coach at Illinois, Bielema has coached 31 All-Big Ten honorees and numerous All-Americans. Nineteen of those Big Ten selections were in the 2022 season alone, a program record. Junior defensive back Devon Witherspoon took home a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award, Jim Thorpe Award Finalist recognition and consensus All-American status.

“First, thank you to Josh Whitman, our administration, Chancellor Jones, and the Board of Trustees for their support and commitment to our football program,” Bielema said. “Thanks to our outstanding coaches, staff and student-athletes, I am proud of the progress we have made in two years and I could not be more excited about where our program is going.”

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    The contract adds a $1.5+ million dollar raise to his annual salary alongside increased bonuses based on team success.


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