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Next Wisconsin Badgers Head Coach Odds: Lance Leipold Strong Contender

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 5 mins

Next Wisconsin Badgers Head Coach Odds: Lance Leipold Strong Contender

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Paul Chryst is out at Wisconsin. The Badgers fired the former head coach midway through his eighth season on the heels of a blowout home loss to Illinois. 

He’ll be the fourth coach fired this season in what’s been a brutal start for head men on the hot seat, but Wisconsin’s circumstances are different. Chryst put forth seven consecutive winning seasons and made a bowl game every year. The Badgers won six of those postseason games and played in three Big Ten title games, going 0-3 with losses to Penn State in 2016 and Ohio State in 2017 and 2019. 

However, those expectations are already in place in Wisconsin and the brass in Madison was hoping Chryst could take the program to the next level. It didn’t happen. While the Badgers were ranked in the top 10 at some point in five consecutive seasons from 2016-2020, they’ve finished the year unranked in all but one of the last four seasons. 

While few expected Chryst to get the axe mid-year, the circumstances in Saturday’s 34-10 loss to Illinois dictated a change. Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema built Illinois into a scrappy Big Ten contender based largely on the Badgers’ long-term model, showing everyone how far Wisconsin has fallen Saturday in Madison. 

Next Wisconsin Head Coach Odds

Embarrassing home loss and 2-3 record aside, the Badgers may have been inclined to let Chryst finish the season if they didn’t have a potential replacement already on staff. Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will finish out the year as interim head coach and try to secure the full-time position. 

But this is still an attractive destination with resources and history, and the Badgers will certainly try to feel out a few additional top names in the search. Let's take a look at our college football odds to be the Badgers next coach.

CoachCurrent JobOddsImplied Probability
Jim LeonhardWisconsin Interim HC-14559.18%
Lance LeipoldKansas HC+40020%
Matt CampbellIowa State HC+12007.69%
Dave ArandaBaylor HC+12007.69%
Dave DoerenNorth Carolina State HC+20004.76%
Sean LewisKent State HC+25003.85%
Mark StoopsKentucky HC+25003.85%
Matt RhulePanthers HC+30003.23%
The FieldNA+10009.09%

Odds above are projected and were created by our Bookies.com Senior College Football handicapper Dan Kilbridge. They do not reflect odds that may be available on legal betting apps.

The timing on all this makes a lot of sense if the Badgers believe Leonhard is their guy. The former Badgers defensive coordinator and current interim coach was a walk-on safety at Wisconsin out of high school and ultimately earned a scholarship his senior season. He had NFL stints with the Bills, Ravens, Jets and Broncos as a player and has been on staff with Wisconsin since 2016. 

Leonhard is already a hot name at just 39 years old and has been mentioned in a few ongoing searches, including the hunt for Nebraska's next coach. It seems he’d certainly prefer to stay and take over this Badgers program and now has seven games to state his case. The athletic department also has two months to get a glimpse of the program under Leonhard and what he could bring to the table in the future. 

There’s a good chance it will be a promising stretch. The Badgers don’t have any ranked opponents left on the schedule and will likely be favored in their next four games at Northwestern, at Michigan State and home against Purdue and Maryland. 

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The other big, rising name in college football right now is Kansas’ Lance Leipold. The former Buffalo head coach got the Jayhawks turned around in a hurry, with Kansas 5-0 on the year after a home upset win over Iowa State. He’s been thrown around in other searches as well, but Leipold has deep ties to the area – he played quarterback at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and served as head coach there from 2007-2014. 

Matt Campbell is another potential candidate. The Cyclones coach has led five consecutive winning seasons in Ames and has been considered one of the best options on the market for some time. He doesn’t have the deep ties like Leonhard and Leipold, but he’s a realistic option and a fit that makes a lot of sense on paper if Wisconsin wants to expand the search. 

Baylor coach Dave Aranda does have a program connection and served as the Wisconsin defensive coordinator from 2013-2015. There’s no serious indication he’s looking to leave the Bears right now, but you have to imagine he’d at least pick up the phone. 

Other names in our college football betting market like North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren, Kent State coach Sean Lewis, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and even Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule have been thrown around. But unlike other programs in the coaching carousel, the Badgers might have their guy already in Leonhard. We expect a limited search in the meantime and a serious chance for Leonhard to secure the full-time position with a promising second half in Madison. 

About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.