Welcome to a new episode of Land-Grant Holy Land’s I-70 podcast. On this show, we talk all things Big Ten football and basketball. After every week of action, we will get you caught up on all the conference’s games and look ahead at the matchups, storylines, and players that you should be paying attention to in the next week. My name is Jordan Williams, and I am joined by my co-host Dante Morgan.
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Welcome to a special edition of the I-70 Football Show! Wisconsin shocks the college football world by firing head coach Paul Chryst after losing to former head coach Bret Bielema in a dominant showing for the Illinois Fighting Illini. After taking stock of the football program’s direction, athletic director Chris McIntosh decided to relieve Chryst of his coaching duties and promote former star safety and current defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to interim head coach.
In this episode, the guys discuss why Wisconsin made this move and what it means for the program’s future. While it may be surprising to some, it makes sense when you consider the last few years under Chryst and the future of the Big Ten. With a new television contract, an upcoming elimination of divisions, and a 12-team playoff, McIntosh wants his program on the upswing and not going downhill.
Chryst has a career record of 56-27, one game behind Bret Bielema, but the program has taken a step back the past three years. After starting 52-16 in his first five seasons, Chryst is 15-10 since 2020 with a 9-8 record against West division opponents. Chryst has led Wisconsin to three Big Ten Championship games, but none in the last two years. After starting 2-3 with losses to Washington State and Illinois, it’s safe to assume this will be the third-straight season without a trip to Indianapolis. Add in a slip in recruiting and the failure to develop top recruits like quarterback Graham Mertz and former five-star offensive lineman Logan Brown, and you start to see cracks in the foundation that Chryst can’t fix.
Jim Leonhard, the Wisconsin wunderkind, is being given a seven-game sample to see if he is the man for the job. While the three of us have concerns that hiring Leonhard would be settling, Wisconsin has been scared that Leonhard would take another job and has been itching to promote him. Leonhard will have a tough decision to make between maintaining the Wisconsin way and modernizing the program for the future. Overall, Wisconsin has taken a positive step toward the future, a future that Chryst no longer seemed fit to lead.
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