Until last week, Paul Chryst‘s name has been synonymous with Wisconsin Football, but Chryst was fired after a 2-3 start to the 2022 season. After eight years of Paul Chryst football in Wisconsin, the school is suddenly tasked with finding a new face of the football program. Vegas has a favorite in the race to replace Paul Chryst; presently, the odds are fairly tight.
- Here are a couple of close calls who didn’t make the list, but could later emerge: Dave Doeren, Matt Ruhle (who is an interesting candidate), Tom Herman, Matt Campbell, Chris Peterson, and Dan Mullen.
Here are the top five betting favorites to replace Paul Chryst at Wisconsin:
Sean Lewis +800 odds
Sean Lewis is an alumnus of the Univerity of Wisconsin and played tight end for the University in the early 2000s. In 2018, Lewis at age 32 became the youngest football coach in college football when Kent State hired him. Since then, he has gone 21-28 in five years. His strong connections to the University make him an early but unlikely candidate for the job.
Dave Aranda +600 odds
Dave Aranda should be given a serious look. His Baylor Bears currently sit in 6th place in the Big 12 with a record of 3-2, but Aranda led his team to a Sugar bowl win in 2021 with a final record of 12-2. He turned around a program that, in his first year, finished 2-7. Aranda also has strong Wisconsin ties. From 2013-2015 he coached the Wisconsin defense, putting together one of Wisconsin’s best defensive units in 2015. The 2015 team would finish second in total defense under Dave Aranda. Given the success he had at Wisconsin, it’s likely Aranda would jump at the prospect of returning.
Lance Leipold + 450 odds
Lanc Leipold is the Head Coach for the Kansas Jayhawks and a Wisconsin native. Leipold was born in Jefferson, Wisconsin, and later enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he would play quarterback and later begin his coaching career. As a head coach, his overall record is 153-50, with the majority of his career in coaching split between Wisconsin-Whitewater and Buffalo. Leipold is in his second season at Kansas, leading the Jayhawks to a 5-1 record.
Bill O’Brien +300 odds
Bill O’Brien is one of the most experienced candidates in the running for Badgers head coach. O’Brien has been the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. In 2012 he replaced hall of fame coach Joe Paterno. He immediately worked to rebuild the football program’s reputation after a shameful scandal. Before accepting the Penn State position, O’Brien was a highly regarded assistant on Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots staff. In his last season with New England, he served as Offensive Coordinator. This team would eventually lose to the New York Giants in Superbowl Super Bowl XLVI.
O’Brien coached the Houston Texans from 2014-2020, taking over as the team’s General Manager in 2020. O’Brien currently, is the Offensive Coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide under Nike Saban. He should be a highly sought-after coach in the 2023 off-season and has no ties to the University of Wisconsin or the State of Wisconsin.
Jim Leonhard +200 odds
Jim Leonhard is the current interim head coach for the Wisconsin Badgers. He is 1-0 as ahead coach after defeating the Northwestern Wildcats 42-7. As the current vegas favorite for the position, this is an unusual spot for Leonhard. Throughout his career, Leonhard has always been an underdog. Leonhard was a walk-on for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he received no scholarship offers out of High School and was not awarded a scholarship until his senior year of college. Despite outstanding play in college, including two all-Big Ten awards and a total of 21 career interceptions, which would tie a school record, Leonhard would go undrafted.
As unlikely as it seemed, being an undrafted free agent, Leonhard would play in the NFL from 2005-2014. He would start multiple seasons finishing an impressive career with 14 interceptions and 428 tackles. Within a year of joining Paul Chryst’s staff, in 2016, Leonhard would be named defensive coordinator. Jim Leonhard is the vegas favorite for the position and would be an excellent choice if given the opportunity.