Some Thoughts on UW’s Dismissal of Paul Chryst

So obviously everyone knows that the University of Wisconsin relieved Paul Chryst of his duties as head football coach on Sunday. I wrote a blog about it, it’s been all over social media and message boards, it’s been all over the sports media outlets on TV and radio.

The shock has finally worn off for me.

Paul Chryst was 67-26 (.720) overall, 43-18 (.705) in Big Ten play, and 6-1 (.857) in Bowl Games (including 2-1 in major Bowls). And now he’s fired five games into his eight season at UW.

Chryst led Wisconsin to double-digit victories in four of his six full seasons (not including 2020 since it was a shortened and not normal season). He took the Badgers to the 2020 Rose Bowl (2019 season) where they won 10 games. There was also a 13-win season before that, which is a program record for most wins in a season.

I first hand understand the stakes involved when you get into the coaching business.

But is this where we’re at now?

Chryst is a Madison guy through and through, he has history with the school before becoming the head coach, and he has actually done some very good things at Wisconsin and never had a losing record in Madison.

Believe me, I get why Wisconsin fans and donors are frustrated in a season where seemingly nothing has gone right.

The Washington State loss, the Cougars looked faster and tougher and for them to come into Camp Randall and win is sort of inexcusable.

Wisconsin never really looked competitive until the game was out of reach in a blowout loss in Columbus to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are the standard in the Big Ten and nationally along with Alabama, and the Badgers were not in the same league that night.

The final straw for the influential donors came on Saturday when Illinois out-Wisconsin’d the Badgers, which is beyond belief. The Illini looked more prepared, more athletic, dare I say tougher than the Badgers on Saturday afternoon. On the other sideline was former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, who bailed on the Badgers in the middle of the night in 2012 for Arkansas, and that victory had to feel pretty sweet for him as he rebuilds the Illinois program.

I feel the firing of Paul Chryst was a reflex action because the season has come unglued a little bit. Because if we’re basing coaching success and employment on every season having to be Rose Bowl or bust then there are going to be a lot of unhappy people in Madison.

I get that it doesn’t help losing to Bret Bielema, especially considering the way Bielema ditched the program like a thief in the night.

Did Chryst need to fix some problems? Absolutely! The offense didn’t have a pulse for too long of stretches. But if this decision was not his, then this was absolutely an overreaction to me after a couple of bad performances.

Paul Chryst can coach. He’s proven it over and over again and his tenure at UW backs it up. He’ll get an offensive coordinator job somewhere and get a head coaching gig in two years if he wants to.

Paul Chryst earned the right to finish out the season and see if he could right the Badgers’ ship. Shabby way to treat a successful, home-grown coach by athletic director Chris McIntosh and chancellor Jennifer Mnookin.

The UW players have talked about the situation this week like professionals.

This Badgers football team still has my full support and I do believe Jim Leonhard has everything it takes to be an outstanding head coach.

Jimmy is in a very unique situation, difficult situation. He just needs to be himself, trust himself and trust his gut.

I know the University needs to officially open the job in the offseason before officially hiring anyone as the full-time head coach, but if McIntosh doesn’t hire Leonhard as the permanent head coach, then this whole situation is a mistake and a disaster.

Playing with a chip on your shoulder to support the new interim head coach who you love and hope keeps the job in order to, in part, stick it to the A.D. who fired the old head coach and promoted the interim head coach is an odd dynamic, but it’s the reality of the world Wisconsin is living in right now.

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