After the firing of Paul Chryst, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard was named the interim coach. He performed well and led Wisconsin to a bowl game. Despite this, Wisconsin decided to hire Luke Fickell as their next head coach. Many wondered what would Leonhard decide to do. It was reported last week that Leonhard would remain in Madison though it was unclear exactly how he would fit into the coaching staff. Tonight, Jim Leonhard dropped a big announcement on social media.
On Wisconsin! pic.twitter.com/lkgkPWmrO1
— Jim Leonhard (@jimleonhard) December 7, 2022
Jim Leonhard Drops Big Announcement
Leonhard has decided to move on from the program. He announced that he would remain the defensive coordinator through the bowl game but would then no longer be a part of the Wisconsin coaching staff in 2023. This comes as a shock as many were hoping that the 7-year coaching veteran would remain in some capacity on the staff. It seems that Leonhard did not see his place in the new regime. While he will stay in Madison, he will not be coaching for the Badgers next season.
Mass Exodus Of Players
In the past week, there has been a mass exodus of players from the program. This was confusing to some but with this announcement, it makes more sense. The players were very vocal about their support for Leonhard and many said they would stay if Leonhard got the head coach position. With Wisconsin deciding to hire Fickell, many of them are staying true to their word. The players clearly respected Leonhard and very much wanted to play for him and not anyone else.
In the short term, this isn’t great. Jim Leonhard’s announcement paired with all of the players leaving is not great news if you are a Badgers fan. However, the hiring of Luke Fickell is a long-term decision for the program. Fickell has a track record of success as a head coach that Leonhard does not have. While the program would have been good under Leonhard, it has the chance to be great under Fickell.
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