Bret Bielema's learning curve on the job has been famously steep, and public, but he's about to discover how easy it's all been.
Being the University of Wisconsin football coach, walking in the footsteps of a Hall of Famer, trying to please millions of know-it-alls is second-grade math compared to the role he's about to take on.
When Bielema marries Jen Hielsberg on Saturday in Madison, he will officially begin the process of true enlightenment. He's going to find out that being a husband requires more effort, awareness, wisdom, patience and strategy than any profession on Earth, and that includes his.
Bielema got a lesson in that earlier this week, and I feel bad because I could have bailed him out.
I told him I would be writing about the big event. He responded by asking if I wanted to sit down with the two of them and chat.
I laughed to myself because I knew there was no way a woman — no matter how incredible, wonderful, organized and adaptable she is — would have time for such a trivial thing with her wedding day so close and her to-do list so long.
Instead of tapping into my 21 years of experience in the bliss department and giving Bielema a heads-up on this, I told him to go ahead and set something up.
Two days later, Bielema had a sheepish tone to his voice when he called to say Jen had more important things to do.
Of course, she did.
The lesson: Hearing UW fans complain about your clock management is Adele singing in the background compared to the sound of your soul mate pointing out that your priorities are out of whack.
Bielema can look forward to helpful tutorials like this at least once a day, till death do they part. He will be a better person as a result.
It's hard to say who will have the biggest adjustment — the native Floridian making a home in Wisconsin or the bachelor getting married at 42 — but starting Saturday they're all in.
It helps that Jen's parents grew up in Oshkosh and that Bielema has been smitten since he first saw her two years ago in Las Vegas.
"She's off the charts," he said.
Bielema said he began to entertain thoughts of marriage after watching Jen carry herself during a social gathering at a UW men's basketball game.
"She was going from table to table," Bielema recalled of a get-together in one of the Kohl Center suites, "and everyone was raving about her and she was just very dynamic."
Bielema showed some old-school moves along the way to the altar, asking her father for her hand before popping the question.
The guy whose playing career at Iowa was adversely affected by knee problems got down on one to ask Jen to marry him last spring. It happened during their first dinner aboard a cruise ship from Miami to St. Thomas.
"There were 4,000 people on the boat, but it was just her and I for seven days, and we don't have that very often," Bielema said. "It totally caught her off guard.
"It was really cool because we were in this area of the boat where there were all kinds of people around us, but nobody saw me do it."
Jen's reaction caught the attention of a ship employee, though.
"He came running over because he thought something was wrong because she was crying," Bielema recalled.
There was nothing wrong at all.
That moment of joy will be validated Saturday when friends and families gather at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church for the wedding. As he has done with so many former UW football players, the Rev. Mike Burke will officiate the ceremony.
Bielema has coached the Badgers since 2006 and grown as a person before our eyes. He took on an immense challenge — replace the iconic Barry Alvarez — and is in the process of trying to carve out his own legacy.
Now Bielema has someone to share that journey, for better or worse.
I trust Jen is ready for the swirl of scrutiny, chaos and sacrifice that comes with being the wife of a high-profile coach.
I trust her fiancé is prepared to help her manage those challenges.
Because, as of today, the most important job Bielema has isn't being a coach.