Nov 19, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Wisconsin Badgers interim head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a play during the fourth quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: What comes next for Jim Leonhard?

Wisconsin Football: What comes next for Jim Leonhard?

MADISON, Wis — If you’re a fan of the Wisconsin football program, the hiring of Luke Fickell as head coach probably came with mixed emotions. 

On the one hand, the Badgers hired a top 10-15 coach in the country and pushed their chips all in on the football program moving forward. How could you not be over the moon? 

Then there’s the flip side. Jim Leonhard, a legend at UW, led the Badgers to a 4-3 record as interim HC and earned bowl eligibility, keeping their streak alive (this matters). However, he got passed over for his dream coaching job after winning over the locker room and doing an admirable job keeping the proverbial ship afloat. 

Now that a week has passed, let’s discuss coach Leonhard’s options in the wake of getting passed over for the head coaching job at Wisconsin – because this man won’t be without plentiful opportunities…

Stay on staff as Wisconsin’s Defensive Coordinator

Coach Fickell mentioned that he and Jim Leonhard spoke several times after he arrived on campus and that he would be open to keeping him on staff.

“Definitely, I am,” coach Fickell said when asked if he’s considering asking Jim Leonhard to join his staff. “We had a great conversation. I am very open to picking his brain on a lot of things. He loves this place. He’s a die-hard. There are a lot of options that are open.”

If you could somehow convince him to stay, keeping Leonhard on staff would be a godsend for several reasons. He’s already one of the most accomplished defensive coordinators in college football; the players love him, which could help with roster retention, and overall, it gives UW the best chance to win games.

That said, there’s a personal side of this business that could make this scenario unrealistic. Feelings get hurt, especially when everyone and their cousin thought this would be Leonhard’s job.

This man gave everything he had to the Wisconsin football program, so he probably has more interest in a fresh start, but only time will tell.

Give the NFL a shot

Two years ago, coach Leonhard got offered the Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator job, which he ultimately passed on in favor of remaining at UW – presumably waiting on the head coaching gig. Now that it’s off the table, a return to the NFL could appeal to the Wisconsin native.

*Cough cough* the Packers could really use him as defensive coordinator (just in case Matt LaFleur is reading this).

A new challenge, a pay hike, and a chance to further his career would understandably be enticing. If he goes this route, I have little doubt he’d succeed.

Leave Wisconsin football for another college coaching gig

If a premier defensive coordinator job doesn’t open, taking another head coaching job is another logical option. Leonhard went 4-3 as UW’s interim and kept the ship afloat in one of the most challenging seasons in recent memory. People everywhere took notice.

Coach Leonhard is one of the brightest young defensive minds and is a rising star in the industry. Some mid-tier programs will undoubtedly start calling and offering him a chance to run his own team.

I’d love to see Jim Leonhard build up a program in his vision, hire his staff, run an offense of his choosing, and continue his coaching ascension.

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Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell looks on in the third quarter of the NCAA Football game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Cincinnati Bearcats defeated South Florida Bulls 28-24. South Florida Bulls At Cincinnati Bearcats 573

Wisconsin Badgers poised for a bright future under Luke Fickell

The Wisconsin Badgers pulled off a stunning move on Sunday afternoon, naming former Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell as the new Badgers head coach.

Fickell is a needle mover for the Wisconsin football program. The decision by Chris McIntosh to name Fickell as the new head coach was gutsy, but in my opinion, it was the right one.

As Fickell begins his tenure as the new Badgers head coach, Wisconsin is poised for a bright future.

Wisconsin Badgers poised for a bright future under Luke Fickell

Taking a look at Fickell’s resume as the head coach of Cincinnati, it’s hard not to be excited.

Fickell tallied a 57-18 overall record in his six seasons with the Bearcats, making him the winningest coach in Cincy history. Additionally, he led the team to two AAC Championships in three appearances. However, his most impressive feat as a head coach was leading the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff and winning Coach of the Year in 2021.

In 2021, Fickell landed the Bearcats as the fourth seed. This made Cincinnati the first non-power five team to make the College Football Playoff. Despite the loss to Alabama, Fickell showcased his ability to lead a team on the national stage.

After the appearance in the playoffs, Cincy came into the spotlight. Nine Bearcat players went to the NFL in 2022, the third most behind Georgia and LSU. That shows Fickell’s knack for developing and coaching talent, something the Badgers tend to do well.

With a resume as impressive as Fickell’s, the Badgers truly made a home run hire. While Jim Leonhard (likely) leaving the program will hurt, the Badgers brass showed they are not afraid and deeply committed to taking Wisconsin to the next level.

Looking forward

After the news broke, Wisconsin quickly lost two recruits in the 2023 class. That leaves Wisconsin without five of their 2023 recruits in total. However, Cincinnati lost some players as well.

Shortly after the news was made official, Cincinnati players hit the transfer portal, and recruits de-committed for the 2023 class. Fickell recruited high-end talent during his tenure, landing multiple four-star commitments. As Fickell gets settled in Madison, it will be interesting to see if he can flip some of those commitments or turn some Bearcats into Badgers.

One other item to watch is how the new Badgers staff is formed. Fickell had an excellent staff in Cincy, but will he be able to lure them to Madison to join his staff? Additionally, which in-house personnel will stay under the new direction? It remains to be seen, but Wisconsin will be a revamped team in the 2023 season.

The future is bright in Madison with Fickell at the helm. Wisconsin put all their chips in and showed they’re no longer going to be complacent. It’s time for a new era for Wisconsin, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Twitter reacts to Wisconsin football hiring Luke Fickell as next HC


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter. @JakeJMaier.

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Wisconsin Badgers RB Chez Mellusi reveals plans for 2023 season

Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi reveals his plans for the 2023 season

The Wisconsin Badgers have received some exciting news.

In news reported by Evan Flood, Badgers running back Chez Mellusi announced he will be returning for the 2023 season.

Mellusi’s announcement is big for Wisconsin as they will keep their dynamic duo intact. Braelon Allen has been the highlight in the Badgers rushing attack, but Mellusi has played a vital role.

Mellusi returned to action last Saturday in a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In his first action since week six, the senior back posted 98 yards on the ground. Mellusi led the team in rushing and seemed to get back into his pre-injury form.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound tailback has excelled in his role as a backup in his time with the Badgers. Mellusi has logged 321 yards rushing yards and one touchdown in seven games this season. Additionally, the Clemson transfer has hauled in two catches for 25 yards and a receiving touchdown.

Although injuries have kept him out for extended time in his two years at Wisconsin, he has still managed to carve out his role as a formidable RB2.

Mellusi has been a key contributor to Wisconsin’s rushing attack. With his return in 2023, the storied Wisconsin tradition of talented running backs will continue.

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter. @JakeJMaier.

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Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers safety John Torchio (15) returns an interception for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers S John Torchio reveals plans for 2023

Wisconsin Badgers S John Torchio reveals plans for 2023

Madison, Wis. – According to a report from Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Badgers starting safety John Torchio plans to move on from the program at year’s end instead of using his extra season of eligibility in 2023.

‘The Jewelry Thief,’ as nicknamed by his teammates, has an additional year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, after careful consideration, he’s decided this season will be his last in the cardinal and white.

The 6-foot-1, 212-pound safety, who is among the most experienced players on defense, has started nine games this season, registering 44 tackles, five interceptions, five pass deflections, three- pressures, two touchdowns, and one sack.

Torchio, a Chuck Bednarik Award finalist, is currently the highest-graded player on the Wisconsin Badgers defense (87.0) and has the highest coverage grade on the team (90.2), according to Pro Football Focus.

Looking forward

As it stands, the Badgers have a decent amount of depth at the safety position, which is surprising considering where things stood at the end of spring practice. Players like Hunter Wohler, Kamo’i Latu, Austin Brown, and even Preston Zachman have each earned the right to see the field.

Without Torchio in the fold next season, Wisconsin will undoubtedly rely on the host of talented young players returning in 2023 to fill out the two-deep.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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