On Sunday afternoon, in a surprising move that was heard around the world, the Wisconsin Badgers parted ways with head coach Paul Chryst, with AD Chris McIntosh naming defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard as the interim for the rest of the season.
Immediately, rumors began to swirl about Wisconsin’s next head coach and an intriguing name that consistently emerged was current Kansas head coach Lance Leipold.
Why, may you ask?
Leipold grew up around 40 minutes from Madison, Wisconsin, and played college football at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Additionally, Leipold has experience with the Badgers, serving three years as a graduate assistant to Barry Alvarez and winning several championships as the head coach of Wisconsin-Whitewater during his stint there.
Naturally, the rumors surrounding Leipold’s potential return to Wisconsin make sense, given the significant ties that the 58-year-old coach has to the state and team.
However, it appears that the rumors won’t be materializing for now as Leipold put any speculation to bed when asked about the opportunity.
“I’m focused on this [team]. We’re extremely happy here [and] we have no plans of going anywhere,” Leipold said.
However, Leipold did share his thoughts on the firing of Chryst, speaking about his relationship with the now-former Badgers head coach.
“Paul Chryst is a friend,” Leipold said. “I’ve known Paul since probably high school. His late father tried to recruit me. Good family, good man and it’s just unfortunate that guys who average nine wins a year get let go.”
Leipold’s Jayhawks have started strong, accumulating an impressive 5-0 record to begin the season, ranking 19th in the AP poll ahead of their Week 6 matchup at Oklahoma.
While the rumors seem subsided, for now, it’s definitely not going to be the last time that Leipold’s name appears in the mix for Wisconsin’s head coaching job.
But, for now, Jim Leonhard will get the opportunity to right the ship and revitalize Wisconsin’s disappointing season.