College Football Head Coach Fired After Eight Seasons With Team

A big college football program just made a surprising change. Following the team's loss to Illinois on Saturday, Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst who has been with the team since 2015. He has been replaced by defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard who will serve as the interim head coach for the rest of the season. 

"After a heartfelt and authentic conversation with Coach Chryst about what is in the long-term best interest of our football program, I have concluded that now is the time for a change in leadership," Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh said in a statement. "Paul is a man of integrity who loves his players. I have great respect and admiration for Paul and the legacy of him and his family at the University of Wisconsin.  "I also have confidence in Jim Leonhard to guide the program for the remainder of the season. There is still a lot of season left to play and I know Jim will do a great job while the program is under his leadership."

The Badgers are now 2-3 after losing to Illinois 34-10 on Saturday. The players were told of the changes by Chryst, McIntosh and Leonhard on Sunday night. "It's my role to have the position of our program always on my mind," McIntosh said. "We just reached a point where today I felt was the right time to make that decision. It's not one I take lightly; it's an incredibly tough day for us all. But I'm incredibly optimistic that today is the first day of the future of this program."

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Chryst, 56 was hired to be the head coach after spending three seasons as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers. In his nearly eight seasons with the program, Chryst compiled a 67-26 record and led the Badgers to the Big Ten Championship game three times. He also led the team to a bowl game each season and won all of them except for the 2020 Rose Bowl against Oregon. Last year, the Badgers finished 9-4 and defeated Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. According to ESPN, Chryst will receive $16.4 million if he is fired without cause. McIntosh said the buyout will be "significantly less than the numbers that have been reported" and the details will be revealed soon.