‘Extremely Pissed Off’ Illinois Coach Bret Bielema Struggles To Hold Back Emotions Towards Big Ten Officials

After losing a hard fought game to Michigan on Saturday, Illinois head coach Bret Bielema was pretty heated at the officials for blown calls during the game. In his both his postgame press conference and halftime interview, Bielema took aim at some of the situations that potentially affected the outcome.

After leading late in the fourth quarter and playing extremely well, Michigan had to convert a fourth down attempt to continue its drive for the win. During the play in question, a Michigan receiver can be seen pushing a defender down the field, setting up the first-down completion.

This play seemingly cost Illinois the win, as the officials did not call a penalty on Michigan. The Wolverines would go on to kick a game-winning field goal, erasing any hopes of an Illinois upset.

 Head coach Bret Bielema of the Illinois Fighting Illini yells at the refs.
Head coach Bret Bielema of the Illinois Fighting Illini yells at the refs. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

“I am extremely pissed off, very angry, very upset,” Bret Bielema said after the game. “I think our kids did a lot to win the football game and continually have things that just go against us. It’s very frustrating and you have to stand up for the people you believe in. I believe in that locker room, big time, and know they’ll rise up to the challenge once again.”

This wasn’t even the first time on Saturday that Bielema let his feelings be known. During his halftime interview with ESPN’s Molly McGrath, the Illini head coach snidely said that his team needed “to beat 110,000 and a few others.”

Not the first problem Bret Bielema has had with refs this season.

It’s been a frustrating year for Bielema with regards to officiating. During their game against Michigan State, officials screwed up a ‘below the waist’ penalty in the first half, which ended up putting the Illini in horrible position for a subsequent field goal.

Bielema said officials apologized to him for the improper call.

“At the end of the half, we were right on the verge,” Bielema said on his postgame radio show. “I got an apology from the officials for screwing that up. They basically allowed them to change the call there. They apologized so that won’t happen again.”

The very next week, against Purdue, Bielema had another run-in with the referees.

“We’ve had four [pass interference] calls on the season and today we had five,” Bielema said after that game. “We’ve had these officials before — we had them at Indiana — so we schooled our guys up on this crew that we’ve seen before that they’re going to call things a certain way.”

On the particular call against Devon Witherspoon where Bielema can be seen very animated on the sideline, the head coach said after the game that call was “frustrating” and he “tried to get an answer [on the call] but couldn’t quite get it.”

Illinois has lost three straight games since a 7-1 start to the season, and all three losses appear to have been heavily impacted by officiating.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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  1. When in doubt, blame the refs. The last PI on Witherspoon was blatant. Tell your DBs not to hold when the ball is in the air. Also, you got away with a blatant offsides on an important 4th down. Bielema has always been a complainer

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