After a worried frenzy broke out this week when reports surfaced that Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard not only interviewed for the defensive coordinator job with the Green Bay Packers, but was considered one of the top targets, many figured that the 38-year old was destined to make the move.
After careful consideration, University of #Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonard informed #Pqckers coach Matt LaFleur Friday night that he will not accept the same position in Green Bay, according to Leonhard and his agent, Tim Valentyn of Madison. (More to come)— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) February 6, 2021
Despite strong interest, it appears as though Leonhard has decided to stay with the Badgers according to Tom Oates.
The choice to turn down the Packers and continue to coach at his alma mater was undoubtedly a difficult one, especially considering the extensive ties that Leonhard has in the NFL after playing in the league for 10 seasons. However, it appears as though his love of the University of Wisconsin and the fact that his young family has put down roots in the Madison area won out.
#Badgers DC Jim Leonhard talked with #Packers coach Matt LaFleur via zoom on Tuesday and in person on Thursday and turned down the job Friday. He said it was a difficult decision but that his heart was at UW and in college coaching at this time. (More to come)— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) February 6, 2021
This was not the first time that Leonhard’s name was tied to the NFL or head coaching opportunities, and will certainly not be the last given how productive his defenses have been under his watch. But the fact that he turned down one of the top NFL franchises — the organization within his own state no less — and Badger fans should feel much better about the chances of Leonhard sticking around Madison long-term.
Hailing from the state, Leonhard had an exemplary career with Wisconsin as a player and has been the defensive coordinator for the Badgers since 2017. As defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, he has consistently put together a top-10 defense in each season with him calling the plays, and he has earned plenty of recognition as one of the top coordinators in all of college football.
The decision for Leonhard to come back for another season is gigantic news for the team, and should help keep the Badgers near the top of the heap in the Big Ten West for years to come.