Wisconsin after Paul Chryst: Can any candidate top Jim Leonard? How good is Badgers job?

The Paul Chryst era at Wisconsin is suddenly over. Christ was fired Sundayone day after a 34-10 loss to Illinois and former head coach Bret Bielema dropped the Badgers to 2-3. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will take over as interim head coach.

“After a heartfelt and authentic conversation with Coach Chryst about what is in the long-term best interest of our football program, I have concluded that now is the time for a change in leadership,” athletic director Chris McIntosh said in a release. “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.

“I also have confidence in Jim Leonhard to guide the program for the remainder of the season. There is still a lot of season left to play and I know Jim will do a great job while the program is under his leadership.”

Chryst went 67-26 as Wisconsin’s head coach, including 9-4 last season. He won three Big Ten West division championships and reached three New Year’s Six bowl games, winning two of them. The Badgers haven’t been at their standard for a while, though. They are 15-10 over the past three seasons and have lost two home games at Camp Randall Stadium already this year, along with a 52-21 loss at Ohio State.

Chryst’s 67 wins at Wisconsin are the third-most in program history. Bielema is second with 68.

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