Bret, it didn’t have to be like this.

For somebody who always harped about how much he loved his team and Wisconsin, how could you sneak around looking for another job while the season hadn’t even finished yet?

That’s just classless. Other coaches have done the same, but for a man who was reputed as a players-first coach, it sure seems like a hypocritical move to leave your team when they need their leader the most as they head to another Rose Bowl.

We understand that you did plenty of great things for this program. You led Wisconsin to three-straight Rose Bowls, something your mentor, Barry Alvarez, didn’t even accomplish. You won 68 games and lost 24. You found a way to bring the recruiting talent up and land the greatest prize bull of them all, Russell Wilson, in 2011. You helped build the Wisconsin brand to a new national level.

But the way you treated your departure from the University of Wisconsin’s football program is unacceptable. You made the Wisconsin job look like a stepping-stone rather than the top-tier position you helped make it with continued years of success.

It’s hard to see someone with your kind of success walk away, but it’s important to understand what you didn’t bring to the table as well. We remember how poor of a game manager you are, how you used timeouts carelessly at Michigan State and against Oregon last year and how you weren’t the kind of coach whose decisions would make a deciding difference in winning a game. Remember the time you put Danny O’Brien in for the two-minute drill against Nebraska? We do.

And you lost the big games that mattered. No Rose Bowl wins and just one win in true road games against opponents in the top 25 show you never seemed to have your players ready when it mattered most.

This season was no different. Your team jumped out to leads in games and went stale in the second half, a mark of being outcoached or rather failing to make adjustments greater than those of your opponents. You made a poor hire at one of the most important positions for your team, the offensive line, and it nearly derailed the season.

In wake of this shocking departure, we at The Badger Herald think it is of the utmost importance that someone with familiarity not just with the program, but also with the players, becomes the next head coach at Wisconsin.

When former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst left last year to accept the head coaching job at Pittsburgh, he took several of Wisconsin’s best assistants with him, including tight ends coach and recruiting dynamo Joe Rudolph. Chryst was the genius behind the Wisconsin offensive machine of years past under Bielema, including the 2011 team that set school records in both points scored (44.1) and yards of offense per game (469.9).

He’s familiar with players he’s coached at quarterback like Joel Stave and has proven his tenacity as an offensive play-caller. And that’s why Chryst is a natural fit at the now vacant head coach spot for UW and earns our endorsement as the next head coach for the Badgers.

And we don’t read too much into his statement Tuesday night saying he was committed to Pittsburgh. Crazier things have happened.

So have fun in the SEC, Bret. We wish you well. But if you thought the criticism at Wisconsin this season was tough, just hope things don’t go sour in the South.