Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard on decision to return: 'I came here wanting to win a national championship'
If ever there was a job to lure Jim Leonhard away from Wisconsin, it was the opportunity to run the defense for the Green Bay Packers.
That was the offer Leonhard had during the offseason. Though he was a strong candidate to take the job, the former Badger decided to stay with his alma mater for at least one more season. As Wisconsin fans celebrated his return, others in the B1G West groaned.
What played into Leonhard’s decision to return to Madison, passing up an opportunity with Green Bay? Wisconsin still hasn’t hit its ceiling, according to the defensive coordinator.
“I cam here wanting to win a national championship wanting to win a B1G championship as a player,” Leonhard said, per Evan Flood of 247Sports. “As a coach, nothing has changed. We haven’t done that since I’ve come back. We still haven’t reached the ceiling. I want a challenge to make that happen.”
Wisconsin’s less-than-stellar year in 2020 was another reason for Leonhard’s return.
The Badgers ended the season with a 4-3 record, another winning year under head coach Paul Chryst. But it didn’t result in a B1G West title or a conference championship.
“I’ve said it a lot of times, I love Madison,” Leonhard said. “I think there’s some unfinished business at the University of Wisconsin. I would have felt a specific way about myself having left after last season.”
Leonhard returned to Madison in 2016 to join Chryst’s staff as the defensive backs coach. In 2017, he added the role of defensive coordinator to his list of duties, a job he’s held over the past four seasons.
Over his four seasons with the Badgers, Leonhard has become one of the top defensive coordinators in the B1G, and in college football. His name frequently pops up with other vacancies, even as a potential head coach.
Right now, his focus is on bringing a B1G title and national championship back to Madison.