University of Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh made the difficult decision to step down from head coach Paul Chryst after a disappointing 2-3 start to the season.
Jim Leonhard, the program’s defensive coordinator, will assume the role of interim head coach for the time being and is considered the favorite for the full-time position at the end of the season.
However, that decision has prompted local and national media to speculate about other potential head coaching candidates who might make sense if Leonhard doesn’t walk away with the job.
One of the first names that comes to mind is Lance Leipold, the Kansas head football coach who did an excellent job with the Jayhawks and also has significant ties to the state of Wisconsin.
Leipold, a Wisconsin native, spent eight seasons as head coach of the Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks, where he won six national titles during that tenure – a truly unprecedented achievement.
On Tuesday, Leipold was asked to address the current vacancy at UW following Paul Chryst’s firing, a rumor he quickly denied.
“We are happy here. We don’t plan on going anywhere,” Leipold said.
“Everything else is rumours,” Leipold continued. “Some of these things happen while we’re in the film room – I didn’t even know some of the stuff on Sunday until I get all these text messages later in the evening. I had no idea.”
Coach Leipold added that he has a personal relationship with Paul Chryst and praised him for everything he’s accomplished at Madison.
“Paul Chryst is a close friend. I’ve known Paul since his late father tried to recruit me to Wisconsin-Platteville. It’s a good family, a good man,” said Leipold. “This is a guy who averaged nine wins a year and got fired. But you know, that’s part of what we signed up for these days. It’s a changing world in many ways and that’s unfortunate. “And I’m not questioning anyone’s decision because there are a lot of factors that nobody really knows,” Leipold added, “but I’m speaking as a person and as a fan, not as a coach.”
Despite Leipold’s best efforts to ward off the rumors, the hot stove will continue to tie him to the University of Wisconsin and any other attractive coaching position that may open up later in the year.
If Jim Leonhard isn’t earning the full-time job like many expect, Leipold would be a homeworker for Wisconsin’s football program.
Contact/Follow us @TheBadgersWire on Twitter and like our page on Facebook for ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.