University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Chris McIntosh made the difficult choice to move on from head coach Paul Chryst after a disappointing 2-3 start to the season.
For now, Jim Leonhard, the program’s defensive coordinator, will assume the role as the interim head coach and is believed to be the favorite to take the full-time position at the end of the season.
That said, this decision has left local and national media to speculate on other potential head coaching candidates that could make sense if Leonhard doesn’t run away with the job.
One of the first names that come to mind is Kansas football head coach Lance Leipold, who has done a terrific job with the Jayhawks and also has significant ties to the state of Wisconsin.
Leipold, a Wisconsin native, spent eight seasons as the Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks head coach, where he won six national titles during that span – truly unprecedented success.
On Tuesday, Leipold was asked to address the current vacancy at UW after the firing of Paul Chryst, a rumor he quickly shot down.
“We’re happy here. We have no plans on going anywhere,” Leipold said.
“Anything else is rumors,” Leipold continued. “Some of these things are happening while we’re in the film room — I didn’t even know some of the stuff Sunday until later in the evening, when I’m getting all these text messages. I had no idea.”
Coach Leipold also added that he has a personal relationship with Paul Chryst and commended him for everything he accomplished in Madison.
“Paul Chryst is a close friend. I’ve known Paul since his late father tried to recruit me to Wisconsin-Platteville. That’s a good family, a good man,” Leipold said. “That’s a guy who averaged nine wins a year and got let go. But you know, that’s a part of what we signed up for these days. It’s a changing world in a lot of different ways and that’s unfortunate. “And I’m not questioning anyone’s decision because there’s a lot of factors that go into these [firings] that nobody really knows,” Leipold added, “but that’s me speaking as a person and as a fan, not as a coach.”
Despite Leipold’s best efforts to deflect the rumors, the hot stove will continue linking him to the University of Wisconsin and any other attractive coaching vacancy that may come open as the year wears on.
If Jim Leonhard doesn’t earn the full-time job as many expect he will, Leipold would be a home-run hire for the Wisconsin football program.
Contact/Follow us @TheBadgersWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.