Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard took time last week to meet with his team and give them his vision for the future of the program if he were to get the full-time job. It’s a vision that would seem important to get across to the man that will make that decision — athletic director Chris McIntosh. But the chance to do that or interview for the position hasn’t occurred.
“I have not had the opportunity to do either yet,” Leonhard said Thursday morning. “I’m looking forward to when the time is right to sit down with (McIntosh) and kind of show him what I think this place can be and should be.”
Leonhard has been the interim coach for a month now, getting that tag when McIntosh fired former coach Paul Chryst on Oct. 2. The team is 2-1 under Leonhard as it gets ready to face Maryland on Saturday. Leonhard told SiriusXM last week that he feels like a decision needs to be made sooner rather than later on the next permanent coach, noting the opening of the transfer portal the early signing period next month.
McIntosh said when he made the move to fire Chryst he felt he owed it to the program to do a national search for his replacement. That process started with McIntosh hiring a search firm two weeks ago. Wisconsin, which has yet to publicly post the position, must do so for seven days before being allowed to make a hire.
Wisconsin is getting healthier as the stretch run of the season begins. Leonhard said All-Big Ten linebacker Nick Herbig and starting safety Hunter Wohler will be available Saturday against the Terrapins.
“We’ll be smart with the amount of load that we give them based on how they are feeling going into game day,” Leonhard said. “They’ve both been able to participate in practice this week and I feel confident they are going to have a role on Saturday.”
Herbig has been dealing with several injuries, but it was a knee injury that kept him from playing in the Purdue game despite being dressed. Wohler hasn’t played since the season opener due to a broken ankle.
Several other players that have been battling injuries, including nose tackle Keeanu Benton, right tackle Riley Mahlman, left guard Tyler Beach and running back Braelon Allen benefited from the bye week.
“The list goes on and on of guys who were in a sense limping into the bye week physically, throwing it all out there on game day and being productive in a lot of cases but the week-to-week was starting to build up,” Leonhard said. “I’m very excited for that group of guys that have played a lot of snaps and were beat up a little bit to hopefully get their bodies back reset as much as you can at this point in the season to put yourself in a position to attack.”