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Wisconsin fires football coach Paul Chryst, names Jim Leonhard interim

Paul Chryst is out at Wisconsin

Wisconsin has fired head football coach Paul Chryst five games into the 2022 college football season, the school announced.

Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will serve as the team's interim head coach while the school locates a permanent replacement for Chryst.

Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh confirmed the news.

"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," McIntosh said in a statement.

"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."

Named a contender for the Big Ten West title in the preseason, the Badgers have played to a 2-3 record through five games and have an 0-2 mark in conference play so far.

Chryst led the Wisconsin football program since the 2015 season and finishes with a 67-26 overall record and a 43-18 mark in Big Ten play.

Wisconsin under Paul Chryst

Wisconsin won 10 or more games in four of Chryst's seasons, won 72% of all games, won three division championships, and finished over .500 in every year until the school's poor start this fall.

Wisconsin enjoyed his best season under Chryst in 2017, when the school went 13-1 overall and 9-0 in Big Ten games, losing only to Ohio State by 6 in the Big Ten Championship Game as the No. 3 team, but defeating No. 11 Miami in the Orange Bowl.

The Badgers finished in the AP top 25 rankings in four of Chryst's seven-plus seasons, including a best No. 7 mark to conclude that 2017 season.

Wisconsin went 6-1 in bowl games under Chryst, including victories in the Cotton Bowl following the 2016 season, the Orange Bowl in 2017, and a one-point loss to Oregon in the 2020 Rose Bowl.

But the Badgers started with a surprise loss at home to Washington State early this season, an ugly 52-21 loss at Ohio State, and a 34-10 defeat at home to unranked Illinois.

A son of Wisconsin

A native of Madison, Chryst played quarterback at Wisconsin from 1986 to 1988 before embarking on his coaching career as a graduate assistant at West Virginia in 1989.

Chryst returned to his alma mater in 2002 as tight ends coach and again as co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach in 2005. 

He moved to the main offensive play calling and quarterback coach position, which he held from 2006 to 2011.

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