Former Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst led the Badgers to a 67-26 record in eight seasons with the program. File Photo by Ian Halprin/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Wisconsin fired football coach Paul Chryst amid a 2-3 start to the 2022 season, the Badgers announced.
Badgers athletic director Chris McIntosh announced the move Sunday at a news conference in Madison, Wisc. He also named defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard as interim 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," McIntosh told reporters. "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."
Chryst, 56, spent three seasons at Pittsburgh before he joined the Badgers for the 2015 campaign. He led the Badgers to a 67-26 record over the next eight seasons.
The two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year led the Badgers to three Big Ten West division titles and a 6-1 record in bowl games.
The Badgers won 10 games in Chryst's first season, followed by 11- and 13-win seasons in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The Badgers posted just one season with at least 10-wins over their last four campaigns entering this season.
They started the 2022 campaign with a 17-14 loss to Washington State on Sept. 10 in Madison. They then posted a 66-7 thrashing of New Mexico State, but lost 52-21 to Ohio State on Sept. 24 in Columbus.
Illinois beat the Badgers 34-10 on Saturday in Madison.
Leonhard is in his seventh season with the Badgers. He served as defensive coordinator for six seasons. The Badgers will battle Northwestern at 3:30 p.m. EDT Saturday in Evanston, Ill.
"I appreciate Chris McIntosh placing his trust in me to lead our team," Leonhard said. "My focus right now is on our players and moving forward with preparing them for our game on Saturday at Northwestern.
"I owe a lot to coach Chryst. Everyone in our program does. He gave me my first coaching job, and for that I am forever grateful. As a Badger, I thank him for his impact on our football program and our players over many years."