Dinner With Coach Bielema

Apr 14, 2023

Before we get to the podcast episode, a quick story. Well, I'm not sure I'm capable of "quick", but... here's a story.

As you may know, I lucked into the first-ever interview with Coach Bielema after he was named head coach of Illinois. I'm somewhere between Indianapolis and Dayton on my way to the "bonus" Penn State game during the pandemic season in 2020 when I see that Illinois has hired a new head coach. And that head coach will be at the Penn State game later that day.

Hey, I'll be at the Penn State game later that day. And as the only media member headed to State College to cover that game, maybe I'll get the first interview with the new coach. That's what happened. Here's a (masked) photo of that interview:

Since then, Coach Bielema has been really good to me. I told him my story that night - the whole "I quit my job to follow my teams like they're the Grateful Dead" story - and he's routinely found time to honor my interview requests and seek to make sure I'm getting what I need.

And after the Minnesota game in 2021, he even gave me a nickname. Well, he didn't "give" me a nickname, but he said this at the end of his press conference:

Which led to one of my friends making me a new vanity plate.

(Not my actual license plate. But it should be.)

Last May I saw Coach B at the Illini Guardians event in Decatur and I had a few minutes to talk to him. My main question for him: what was with the cryptic tweet from a few days prior with the photo of his father-in-law with a caption that just said "be"?

He didn't even know it was something that he had tweeted. His pocket had simply tweeted a photo from his phone with the word "be" as the caption. I love stuff like that, and I encouraged him to keep it up.

In fact, the Illini Guardians tweeted a photo from the event...

And if you zoom in to the very back of the room...

...you can see me showing Coach B what he tweeted and him looking at his phone saying "I did what?".

His father-in-law passed away unexpectedly in November of last year, one week after Coach B's mom passed away. His mom passed away before the Michigan game and his father-in-law passed away before the Northwestern game the next week. I can't imagine something like that for one family, especially during a football season.

Last night, I wanted to let him know that I love that the "be" tweet exists. As he explains in the recording, that was from a special trip that he had taken with his father-in-law (which would be their last fishing trip together). And I'm choosing to forever let that tweet be a reminder for all of us:


So if you're expecting this podcast to be an hour-plus of football talk, it's not. We do talk football, but we talk life as well. And I'm very grateful that he was comfortable enough to open up about some of these things.

If you want to listen on Apple Podcasts, you can do that here. If you want to listen on Spotify, you can do that here. If you listen to podcasts anywhere else, just search for We Love No Other. And if you want to listen online right now, you can do that here:



IlliNYC on April 14, 2023 @ 12:08 PM

Great interview. I know it's common to turn around completely on a player or coach when they join your own team...but this Bielema experience is different than the "hate Rodman on the Pistons, love him on the Bulls" deal. There is a depth and sincerity to Coach that comes through whenever I hear him speak. He is such a different person than what I expected. I'm a huge fan.

NC_OrangeKrush on April 14, 2023 @ 05:17 PM

Wow... Such an amazing listen Robert! Some great stories and insight.....

DQ4515 on April 14, 2023 @ 08:39 PM

Well done!

ClassOfDeeDeronJames on April 14, 2023 @ 10:33 PM

Robert, I've still got 10 minutes to go in the interview but for some reason I can't wait to ask you... Have you ever laid out your wind strategy/observations with Coach B or anyone on the staff?

Absolutely love the interview. You at your best. I'm so glad we have this version of Bret Bielema. He is incredibly engaging. You can also tell he is a fantastic coach and communicator.

The Olaf Rules on April 14, 2023 @ 10:43 PM

This was fantastic. So much revealed about Bret’s character and thought process. HE is a football savant. Thanks for doing this.

Joe Edge on April 15, 2023 @ 04:32 AM

Well done Robert... I believe we finally have a coach that 'gets it'...

arie_0444 on April 15, 2023 @ 07:16 AM

This podcast is worth the top tier subscription alone! Thank you Coach and Robert!

HailToTheOrange on April 15, 2023 @ 04:10 PM

Love him

Leechcass on April 16, 2023 @ 07:16 PM

Great ! Robert! I think that one of the really important attributes that Coach B possesses is the enjoyment he gets giving interviews. And I don't think its a strategy thing. He grabs the mic not out of a sense of obligation, but more like a kid grabbing his bike to go to the field. I watch his asst's and I have to laugh. They could use some lessons. Not that they are bad, but you can tell its really work. LOL! Enjoy your work, Robert.

BanTheCharge on April 17, 2023 @ 12:33 PM

This was outstanding! Thanks Robert!

22 on April 17, 2023 @ 05:41 PM

so great, thanks.

illinois81 on April 17, 2023 @ 06:46 PM

I am easily influenced by suggestion. Now I have to make meat loaf this weekend. Thanks for the great interview, Robert (aka Sweet Ass), and to Coach Bielema for being so open.

allansellers89 on April 18, 2023 @ 05:39 PM

GREAT interview, thank you!

OskeeT18 on April 27, 2023 @ 09:09 AM

Fantastic interview, Robert. I really enjoyed listening to your conversation.

on July 3, 2023 @ 03:59 PM


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