Sources: Wisconsin fires Chryst after 2-3 start

by Ricardo Gutierrez - Wisconsin has fired coach Paul Chryst, and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season, sources said.

Wisconsin fires football coach Paul Chryst, sources say 7:26 PM ET Adam RittenbergESPN Senior Writer Close College football reporter. Joined ESPN.com in 2008. Graduate of Northwestern University. Wisconsin has fired coach Paul Chryst after the team's 2-3 start, sources told ESPN. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season, sources said. The decision came Sunday, a day after Wisconsin lost 34-10 to Illinois, coached by former Badgers coach Bret Bielema. Wisconsin fell 52-21 to Ohio State on Sept. 24, one of its worst losses in recent memory, and fell at home against Washington State as a heavy favorite. Chryst, 56, finishes 67-26 in seven-plus seasons at Wisconsin, his alma mater. He won 10 games or more in four of his first five seasons with the Badgers, winning a Cotton Bowl and and Orange Bowl, and three Big Ten West Division titles. But the program fell off beginning in 2020, going 4-3, before a slow start to the 2021 season. According to Chryst's contract, Wisconsin will owe him $16.4 million if he's fired without cause, although a different settlement could be negotiated. Wisconsin's athletic board in January approved the rollover of Chryst's five-year contract through the 2026 season. Leonhard, a three-time All-America defensive back at the school, returned to Wisconsin as an assistant in 2016 and took over as defensive coordinator the following year. He has long been viewed as a potential successor to Chryst and is expected to be a candidate for the permanent job.