The University of Wisconsin-Madison, a member of the Big Ten Conference, has a proud athletic tradition. Like many other schools, football is one of, if not the biggest athletic priority for the Wisconsin Badgers. The football team had for the last several years been led by Paul Chryst.

Chryst is something of a favorite son. And under his direction, the Badgers would mark some significant achievements. An argument could be made that the 2017 football season was the best in the school's history. It culminated in an Orange Bowl championship. And with some onlookers believing the Badgers should've been among the four national championship finalists.

But the college football landscape has been rapidly changing. It seemed lately that the Badgers were struggling to keep pace with the times. Leading to a change at the top.

Chryst out as Badgers head coach

Wisconsin has fired Paul Chryst, reports ESPN. The dismissal comes in the midst of a thus far highly disappointing 2022 season for the Badgers. Including back-to-back humiliations dealt via in-conference rivals Ohio State and Illinois.

Frustrations had been building for some time leading up to it. The Badgers offense had appeared to become somewhat antiquated compared to other top college programs in the country. Weaknesses at the quarterback position have become a glaring hindrance. The signing of hotly recruited prospect Graham Mertz out of Kansas looked like a major coup at the time.

But at this point, Mertz has not come close to living up to the hype. This followed the Badgers previously somehow missing out on in-state prospect Nate Stanley. Who instead played for the Iowa Hawkeyes, one of the Badgers' arch rivals. Then becoming an NFL Draft selection.

Paul Chryst is a native of Madison, later playing high school ball in Platteville, to the west.

His father, George, was a high school coach in Madison before becoming an assistant with the Badgers. The younger Chryst later played for the Badgers as a quarterback himself. His early coaching career included stops in the Canadian Football League. Eventually, Chryst bounced back and forth as an assistant between Wisconsin and Oregon State.

With a stint as an NFL assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers along the way.

The University of Pittsburgh gave Chryst his first shot at being a head coach. He left for Wisconsin after the brief but failed experiment that was the Gary Andersen era.

Remains very well-liked

Chryst has a sterling reputation as a person among his colleagues and players. Athletic director Chris McIntosh has acknowledged the decision was a painful one. Also noting that Chryst opted to take a payout significantly less than what he'd been owed. Specifics have not been given as of yet.

McIntosh has a fairly similar background to Chryst. A native of Wisconsinite, he hails from Pewaukee, in the Milwaukee area. Later playing as an offensive tackle for the Badgers and becoming a first-round NFL Draft pick.

A neck injury would cut his playing career short.

All of these things might be of particular note. There has appeared to be a preference as of late for coaches with strong ties to the program, state or both. A tone set by former head football coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez. Who, ironically, did not seem to have such ties when he arrived on the scene. McIntosh was his deputy before succeeding Alvarez after his retirement. He's not surprisingly shown that he would like the established patterns to continue. But whether or not that's feasible in the future is another question.

Leonhard becomes the new head coach

Jim Leonhard has been named the interim head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Chryst had hired Leonhard as the defensive backs coach before quickly promoting him to defensive coordinator. For his part, Leonhard indicated he has mixed emotions about getting the top job under such circumstances.

There had been speculation swirling that Leonhard was considered to be the head-coach-in-waiting. Next in line for the job whenever Chyst would vacate it. As noted by Yahoo, Leonhard had turned down a number of other jobs, opting to stay in Madison. Including an offer from the Green Bay Packers.

Jim Leonhard is also a native Wisconsinite, though from further north than Chryst or McIntosh. Leonhard was born in Ladysmith, playing at Flambeau High School in nearby Tony. As a player for the Badgers, Leonhard became one of the top defensive backs in the country.

Three times he was listed as both an All-American and First Team All-Big Ten. Later, Leonhard spent about a decade in the NFL, primarily with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

Others also being considered for the head coaching job

The remainder of the 2022 season could probably be considered a sort of interview process for Leonhard. If he does well, the head coaching position is more than likely his to lose. But if he doesn't pan out, other possibilities have already been discussed. Keeping in mind that there would probably be preferences for those with big Wisconsin connections.

Lance Leipold has become a hot name as the Kansas Jayhawks head coach. With ties to both programs, he's drawn some of the most speculation for the openings at Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Leipold is a native of Jefferson, Wisconsin, not far from Madison. He played for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. After working as an assistant with the Badgers, he eventually became the head coach at his alma mater. There, he led several Division III national championship teams. The University of Buffalo gave him his first Division I head coaching gig before he went to Kansas.

Other names that have gotten noticed include Jake Dickert. A native of Oconto, Wisconsin and former player and assistant coach with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. As well as former Badgers assistant coaches Dave Doeren, Dave Aranda and Justin Wilcox. Former Badgers tight end Sean Lewis has also been mentioned.