Will Saturday Determine Jim Leonhard’s Future At Wisconsin?

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Wisconsin Badgers coach Jim Leonhard’s future in Madison will likely be determined by Saturday night.

The 4-4 Badgers welcome 6-2 Maryland to Madison today, and with a win Jim Leonhard will almost certainly lock up having the interim tag removed.

Since Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst, Leonhard has gone 2-1 with wins over Northwestern and Purdue. Maryland is the best team left on the schedule by a significant margin.

If Leonhard and the Badgers beat the Terrapins, it might not even matter what happens in the final three games. It’d be shocking if Wisconsin wins today and Leonhard doesn’t get the job permanently.

Will the Wisconsin Badgers keep Jim Leonhard? (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Wisconsin looks like a different team under Jim Leonhard.

As I’ve said before, the Badgers are unrecognizable from the first five games of the season. Wisconsin averaged just 15 points a game against Power 5 teams under Chryst this year.

That number has exploded to 37 under Leonhard. The offense is rolling since opening things up.

Wisconsin’s offense has exploded under Jim Leonhard. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Nobody has benefited more from Jim Leonhard becoming the interim coach than Graham Mertz. In the first five games, Mertz threw eight touchdowns to five interceptions. It wasn’t great, but it was the best five game run of his career, despite the team being 2-3.

However, he’s exploded since Jim Leonhard started running the show. In his last three games, Mertz has nine touchdown passes to one interception.

Wisconsin Badgers QB Graham Mertz has been playing much better since Jim Leonhard became the coach. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

The offensive explosion is one of the biggest selling points for Leonhard having the interim tag removed. In just a few weeks, the offense has radically shifted.

All signs point to Jim Leonhard sticking around for the long haul, and the program can expedite the situation with a win over Maryland. Wisconsin fans are behind him, and if we kick in Maryland’s teeth, you’ll hear a deafening roar to name him the permanent coach.

Will Wisconsin beat Maryland? Jim Leonhard’s chances of sticking around will get a huge boost with a win. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

We’ll find out starting at noon EST on BTN. As a Wisconsin fan, I’m starting to feel more and more optimistic the closer we get to kickoff.

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

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