Oct 1, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst looks on during the third quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Column: Wisconsin firing Paul Chryst stings, but it was the right decision

Column: Wisconsin firing Paul Chryst stings, but it was the right decision

Madison, Wisc. – Eight and nine-win seasons don’t carry the same weight as they used to at the University of Wisconsin. UW’s high standards are a testament to the stability and success of the football program under Paul Chryst and his predecessors – but all good things, as they say, must come to an end.

Wisconsin’s embarrassing loss against the Illini this past weekend was the collective straw that broke the camels’ back. 

Wisconsin was no longer a program contending to win the Big Ten West and compete for a conference championship – this was a team in conspicuous decline. 

No creativity, no grit, undisciplined, and without passion – that’s what Wisconsin football looked like from the outside looking in. All programs undergo seasons of a cyclical downturn – and Wisconsin is no different. But this time, it felt different, borderline unrecognizable. 

In a quickly evolving college athletics landscape, the Badgers were, in my opinion, on the brink of a much steeper decline than most are willing to admit.

Coach Chryst experienced what can only be described as a fall from grace. In short, the game began to pass him by, leaving the program in flux. 


My Thoughts on Wisconsin’s decision

My guess is Chris McIntosh wanted his guy (presumably Jim Leonhard) to run the program and wanted to strike while the proverbial iron was hot. Fans and media alike were ready for a change, and this was his window to make a move that could ultimately define his legacy as AD.

I give kudos to University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Chris McIntosh for acknowledging there was an issue – and making a tough decision for the betterment of the program. 

The firing of Paul Chryst stings, as well as it should, he’s the third-winningest head coach in program history, but ultimately, it was the right decision. 


“The Wisconsin way”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on from the sidelines against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

First, I have the utmost love and respect for Paul Chryst. He was the right man for the job when UW hired him, and I’ll remember his tenure fondly. 

Coach Dad is on the short list of best coaches in the program’s history – that’s not even up for debate.  

Paul Chryst’s Resume

. Coaching Record: (67-26, 43-18 Big Ten) 

. Won three Big Ten West titles (2016, 2017, 2019)

. 2x Big Ten Coach of the Year (2016, 2017)

. 4 – 10+ win seasons (tied for most at UW)

. Bowl games: 6-1 record (.857%) – two NY6 bowl victories.

People forget Chryst was hired at UW to bring back stability after the Gary Anderson debacle and, in my opinion, exceeded expectations. 

During his tenure, the Badgers maintained their familiar identity as a team that won by running the ball, controlling the clock, and playing sound, disciplined football – the Wisconsin way, if you will. 

Despite Wisconsin’s pronounced disadvantages against elite programs on the recruiting trail, coach Chryst and his staff essentially put a fence around the state and continually found players they could bring in and develop. I’d argue they did more with less than any other Power 5 program in the country. 

Sustained success is what Paul Chryst was hired to help protect, and he did precisely that, representing the University of Wisconsin with the utmost class. 

As a wise man, Alex Fletcher once said, I will always appreciate what coach Chryst did for the Badgers, but it was time for a change. Both can be true. 


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One thought on “Column: Wisconsin firing Paul Chryst stings, but it was the right decision

  • William Rowe says:

    I believe it was time for a change. I also believe that Coach Leonhard should be given a chance to show if he is up to the head coaching challenge. But…changing coaches does not address the problems facing this program. Can Coach Leonhard handle the offense??? Changing coaches does not fix our team now or in the near future…We have to have reasonable expectations for Coach Leonard going forward!!! We may need an established O.C. TO HANDLE THE OFFENSE…
    Defensively…what has happened to our top rated defense? We admittedly have lost many to graduation….and we are young. We do not have the linebackers we have previously enjoyed.

    Offensively…Mertz may have improved…but still has not developed per his billing. We need to be more diverse and unpredictable running…AND PASSING!!! Potential quarterbacks and receivers must know that the Badgers are a more balanced attack if we expect to improve our recruiting. Our offensive line right now…is just that…very offensive to many of us.

    RECRUITING…We need to vastly improve our recruiting staff…need more capable recruiters.

    Best wishes to Badgerland…

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