Wisconsin entered this season with the same expectations they typically do as a preseason top 25 squad that hoped to compete in what figured to be a wide open Big Ten West division. However, through six weeks the Badgers have struggled against decent competition, getting dominated by Ohio State (which happens to most everyone), but more concerning have been losses to Washington State and Illinois at home.
That Illinois loss on Saturday, a 34-10 beatdown at the hands of a divisional rival coached by former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, was apparently the breaking point for the boosters up in Madison, as word broke on Sunday evening from ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that head coach Paul Chryst was being fired, with defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard being elevated to interim head coach.
SOURCE: Paul Chryst is out as #Wisconsin coach. Jim Leonhard will be the team's interim coach. Announcement will be coming shortly.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 2, 2022
Chryst’s buyout is reportedly $16.4 million if he gets the full number.
Per Paul Chryst’s contract, the school owes him more than $16.4 million if he’s fired without cause. Terms of separation could apply. But that’s the contract.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) October 2, 2022
There’s a very real chance Leonhard becomes the long-term selection, as he has emerged as one of the nation’s best defensive coordinators in recent years and the Badgers tend to like keeping things in the family, but it had become clear to Wisconsin’s athletic department that Chryst’s message was no longer reaching the team. Chryst was in his eighth season with the Badgers, compiling a 67-26 record in his time that peaked early in his tenure, when he had the Badgers finish in the top-10 in 2016 and 2017, winning the Cotton and Orange Bowls respectively.
However the last three years haven’t gone according to plan in Madison with 10 losses in two and a half seasons and finishing outside the top 25 the last two years.
UPDATE: Sure, enough, the firing was made official on Sunday night, with Wisconsin releasing official statements on the decision.