Wisconsin Football: Badgers plan to hire new defensive coordinator by end of week

After another defensive coordinator left Wisconsin to pursue other opportunities, the Badgers are close to finding a replacement.

For the second straight year, the Wisconsin Badgers football team saw their defensive coordinator bolt for another school.

First, Dave Aranda, who likely left because of salary restraints at Wisconsin, took the same position at LSU. Barry Alvarez then brought in Justin Wilcox from USC to take his place.

A lot of mystery surrounded Wilcox in his first year, but exceeded expectations helped keep the Badgers amongst the top defenses in the country and the backbone of the team’s success this year. Wisconsin finished in the top ten nationally in points, total defense, and turnover margin in Wilcox’s first year.

Unfortunately, the ground remains unstable at the defensive coordinator position after Wilcox accepted a position to be the new head coach at California. While he had kind words to say about Wisconsin and it is hard to be angry at him for taking a head coaching job, it has caused some angst yet again about the current state of the defense at Wisconsin and who the next coordinator will be.

Well, we should not have to wait long.

Head Badgers coach Paul Chryst announced Wednesday that he plans to have a hire in place by the end of the week.

“When Justin (Wilcox) left, it’s given me time to think about and talk to a number of people,” Chryst said Wednesday on UW’s Facebook Live National Signing Day show. “I would anticipate by the end of this week having a decision.”

Several candidates have come into conversation as replacements since Wilcox’s departure, as well as a few internal personnel.

Wilcox was set to receive a substantial pay increase this season had he stayed in Madison. The extra money that was allotted for him could help increase the flexibility and quality of candidates that Chryst and the athletic department have been looking at.

Two internal possibilities are linebackers coach are Tim Tibesar and defensive backs coach Jim Leonhard, who have both said they are interested in the position. Both did a wonderful job last season as Tibesar helped a depleted and injury-ridden linebacker group and made them one of the best in the country, while Leonhard took a young and inexperienced secondary and guided them to a secondary that helped bring in the second most interceptions in the country.

“I’ve had conversations with coach Chryst, along with the majority of our staff,” Leonhard said. “I think the biggest thing is getting the right guys for the kids. That’s what’s fair to them. It’s a collaborative effort either way.”

Stay tuned for updates.

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