The Wisconsin Badgers are facing off against the Illinois Fighting Illini in a road game on Saturday, where quarterback Braedyn Locke will make his first career start after starter Tanner Mordecai was ruled out indefinitely with a broken hand.
Following last year’s 34-10 blowout at Camp Randall Stadium in favor of the Illini, the Badgers are taking this one personally, and it’s fitting that they'll see some familiar faces on the opposite sideline, including former interim head coach Jim Leonhard.
Leonhard, who was a staple of the Badgers program, both as a player and a coach, was passed over for head coach Luke Fickell in November, which ultimately led to his departure.
After mulling over options, Leonhard ultimately joined the Illini as a Senior Football Analyst in what likely serves as a bridge to his next destination.
Of course, that 34-10 blowout started the spiral of events that led to Leonhard’s departure, as head coach Paul Chryst was fired the day after, which led the then-defensive coordinator to be named the interim for the remainder of the season.
Despite calls from many players in the program to retain Leonhard as the head coach, the Badgers went in a different direction, prying well-experienced head coach Luke Fickell from the Cincinnati Bearcats to lead the football team.
Not only are the Badgers facing off against Leonhard, but they'll see a familiar face in Illinois defensive coordinator Aaron Henry, who played at Wisconsin from 2007-2011 under former head coach Bret Bielema, who holds the same role at, you guessed it, Illinois.