Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard announced Tuesday that he will not return to the Badgers' staff for the 2023 season as the program transitions to a new regime under Luke Fickell. Leonhard guided Wisconsin to a 4-3 mark over the final seven games of the regular season while serving as interim coach following the firing of Paul Chryst after a 2-3 start to the season.
Leonhard made an obvious candidate to succeed Chryst but did not ultimately land the head coaching job as the Badgers made one of the splashiest hires of this coaching carousel with Fickell, who posted a 57-18 record at Cincinnati over the past six seasons. Despite being passed over for the head job, a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week suggested that Leonhard planned to serve on Fickell's staff. But the 40-year-old former All-American Wisconsin safety and journeyman NFL player put that notion to rest with his Tuesday post on Twitter.
"It has meant the world to me to be able to pour my heart and soul into the UW Football program over the last 7 years," Leonhard wrote. "After discussions with my family and Coach Fickell, I will remain the DC through the bowl game but no longer be a part of the staff after the conclusion of the 2022 season. It has been an honor to coach these young men and thank you to all the fans who supported us along the way. On Wisconsin!"
Wisconsin will play Oklahoma State in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 27 in Phoenix to conclude Leonhard's seventh season on staff. He served as defensive backs coach in 2016 before receiving a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2017.