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“We gave them three straight Big Ten championships. It had never been done before. “

Bielema wouldn’t put a timetable on success at Arkansas, but he did say he would embrace the underdog role after the Razorbacks’ lowest win total since 2005.

He said consistent turnover on his coaching staff at Wisconsin, and the ability to pay his assistants more at Arkansas, played a role in his decision to leave the Badgers _ where he was Barry Alvarez’s hand-picked successor following the 2005 season.

Bielema grew up on a hog farm in Illinois, a fact that brought out hearty laughter from the gathered crowd of Razorbacks faithful Wednesday in the Broyles Center.

A host of Arkansas’ returning players were included in the crowd, each expressing surprise and satisfaction with their new coach.

Bielema promised to bring a balanced offensive attack to a school that’s become accustomed to record-setting passing offenses _ along with lackluster defensive performances _ since Petrino’s hiring in 2007.

“He really relieved a lot of tension in that team meeting about 30 seconds into speaking,” Razorbacks center Travis Swanson said. “I know there was a lot of tension for all of us not knowing who he is as a person, but as soon as he came in there he made everyone feel comfortable.”