By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst on Sunday after a 2-3 start to his eighth season leading the school where he played in the city where he grew up.
The surprising move comes a day after Wisconsin lost at home 34-10 to Illinois and former Badgers coach Bret Bielema.
Chryst is 67-26 since taking over as coach of the Badgers in 2015. But the program has been backsliding. Chryst had double-digit win seasons in four of his first five years at Wisconsin and had gone 15-10 since.
Chryst, the 56-year-old Madison native, has four years left on his contract. He was set to make $5.25 million this season.
Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, another former Badgers player, was named interim coach. The 39-year-old former NFL defensive back has been part of Chryst’s staff for seven seasons.
The in-season coaching move was the fifth already this season, and second of the day. Earlier Sunday, Colorado dismissed Karl Dorrell.
But none of the changes have been as unexpected as Wisconsin’s.
The program has been built on stability for more than three decades since Barry Alvarez turned it around in the 1990s.
Chryst, who payed quarterback for the Badgers in the late 1980s, was an assistant under Alvarez and Bielema.
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