The Wisconsin Badgers fire Paul Chryst and name Jim Leonhard

The Wisconsin Badgers fire Paul Chryst and name Jim Leonhard as interim coach

The Wisconsin Badgers have fired their head coach, Paul Chryst, the school announced Sunday night. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard becomes the team’s interim coach.

The move represents a stunning turn of events for Chryst, who won at least 10 games in four of his first five seasons and led Wisconsin to three appearances in Big Ten championship games during that stretch. But product in the field steadily declined after the 2019 Rose Bowl campaign.

“After a heartfelt and genuine conversation with Coach Chryst about what is in the long-term best interests of our football program, I have concluded that now is the time for a leadership change,” said Chris McIntosh, Wisconsin athletic director. “Paul is a man of integrity who loves his players. I have great respect and admiration for Paul and the legacy of him and his family at the University of Wisconsin.”

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Wisconsin ended a 2020 season shortened by the pandemic 4-3 as it rallied to win its final two games. The Badgers were worthy of capturing the Big Ten West title last season but suffered a 23-13 loss to rival Minnesota in the regular-season Finals, falling 9-4 on aggregate. Wisconsin opened this season 2-3, losing all three games to Power 5 opponents.

Washington State defeated Wisconsin 17-14 in Week 2 despite the Badgers being 17.