Unsurprisingly considering the Wisconsin Badgers’ defensive performance this season, first-year coordinator Jim Leonhard drew significant attention from the Florida State Seminoles, reports this week indicated.
While it appears new FSU head coach Willie Taggart had interest in hiring Leonhard as his defensive coordinator, the Wisconsin native told reporters at an Orange Bowl press conference on Thursday that while he did have “some conversations with some teams,” he’s “very happy where I’m at.”
"I think I owe it to myself to entertain some phone calls and see what the interest is and where it is, but also knowing that I’m very happy where I’m at,” Leonhard said. "Wisconsin is home. I love the university. I truly believe everything about it on and off the field. I feel like we do it the right way. We’re not the only team doing it the right way, but we’re one of them.
"To me, the recruiting side of it, just everything outside of coaching, I know I want to be in a place where you truly believe in the product and you truly believe in the university. It’s one of those situations where I know I have that right now, so it’s kind of a nice place to be."
Leonhard was widely considered a longshot to leave Wisconsin for Florida State after the reports surfaced earlier this week, but Badgers fans were understandably concerned given Leonhard’s performance in his first year as a coordinator. His unit enters the Orange Bowl first in total defense, third in scoring defense, second in rushing defense, and fourth in passing defense. Wisconsin’s 26 turnovers forced are tied for 12th in the nation.
If Leonhard stays put, it would be especially good news for Badgers head coach Paul Chryst, who is already losing Tim Tibesar from his staff after the Orange Bowl to become Oregon State’s defensive coordinator.
Clearly a rising star, Leonhard will surely remain a hot commodity on the coaching market, but he’s still in Madison for now.