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Wisconsin Football: Current, Former Coaches in Mix for Power 5 Job



Wisconsin Football; Badgers legend Jim Leonhard & current defensive coordinator Mike Tressel named as potential candidates for Michigan State Job
Nov 26, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard prior to the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The odds for the next head coach of a significant Power 5 program were released on Friday by BetMichigan — and a few names with Wisconsin football ties are among the favorites.

If you’ve been living under a rock, Michigan State’s football program is an absolute mess. Even though Mel Tucker hasn’t officially been fired, the University has suspended him without pay, and it seems inevitable that both sides will part ways following a sexual assault allegation. That said, former Wisconsin football coach Jim Leonhard and current Badgers defensive coordinator Mike Tressel are among the betting favorites to land the Spartans head coaching gig.

Let’s analyze the latest odds from BetMichigan for potential successors to Mel Tucker as the next head coach of Michigan State, should the position become available.

Wisconsin football coaches tied to Michigan State head coaching job

Image via BetMichigan.

Current & Former Wisconsin Football Coaches Among Top Candidates to Right the Ship in East Lansing

My first observation is that current Wisconsin football defensive coordinator Mike Tressel has the second-best odds (+600) to land the gig at 14.3%, which is somewhat surprising. 

Tressel has strong ties to Michigan State, having coached there for 14 years in various roles ranging from special teams coordinator to defensive coordinator before following Luke Fickell to Cincinnati.

In Tressel’s two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, the Bearcats ranked No. 2 nationally in passing yards, No. 3 in passer rating, No. 11 in scoring defense, No. 13 in sacks, and No. 14 in total defense en route to AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year honors in 2022.

His stock is clearly on the rise across the college football landscape.

Jim Leonhard, a Wisconsin football legend on and off the field, makes a lot of sense — but is much further down the list — having +1500 odds at 6.2%. 

During his time as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator, the Badgers ranked among the nation’s top five in total defense and top 10 in scoring defense four times.

Leonhard is taking a gap year and serving as a Senior Analyst for Illinois — but will have no shortage of job offers when the season is over. 

These betting odds are hardly the last time a coach with ties to the Wisconsin Badgers will get mentioned among the top options for Power 5 vacancies as they come open — including Paul Chryst, who is at Texas in an Analyst role

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Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author and the Owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.