MADISON — Football coaches are in a league of their own among other sports. In basketball, there are no point guard coaches on a staff, nor in baseball any second base coaches. But in football, there’s a coach for nearly every position in the game. This does two main things, one good, and one potentially harmful. First, positively, it gives players a personalized mentor to mold them and their game specifically. Imagine the overwhelming feeling of being on a team of 100+ players fighting for starting roles, but also having a coach there in tune with your needs as a player.
However, the caveat is the drastic fragmentation that occurs as a result of having so many different coaches. Instead of a small staff in which communication is simple and straightforward, a football coaching staff can be jumbled. This is not to say each coach has their own agenda and doesn’t work well with the other coaches, it simply means that the more people you add to staff, the harder communication can become.
Now, throw in the fact that staffs are constantly changing, and what you’re left with is a system that works against your goals as a team: to win. With coaches arriving and departing, a perpetual reset is in effect, but new Wisconsin Badgers’ defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard is here to make his transition as simple as possible. Leonhard, a former NFL safety and last year’s defensive backs coach was promoted to DC after Justin Wilcox left the Badger staff to become head coach of California. Between his retirement from the NFL and his start as a coach, Leonhard took a year off to study film with then-DC Dave Aranda to familiarize himself with defensive schemes and tactics that aren’t as common on the NFL stage. At age 34, he’s an incredibly young coach, let alone coordinator, but Chryst is far from phased by his age.
If anything, Chryst is giddy about how young, and resultantly relatable Leonhard can be for to Badger players. Coach Chryst has emphasized how gifted Leonhard is at not only knowing the game of football, but knowing the nature of college players, not to mention the fact that Leonhard has been through the Badger Football system.
“I think one of the best qualities that Jimmy [Leonhard] has is he understands football, but, more importantly, he understands players,” Chryst said, “It’s one of his strengths. He’s a tremendous connector, connector of people, and so it’s been good.”
If Leonhard can make himself accessible to players as a coach and friend, as well as showcase his deep knowledge of the game of football, Chryst is confident that his transition will be as smooth as possible, and, beyond that, will help the Wisconsin defense to stay elite.
“We’re excited that Jim [Leonhard] is coordinating our defense,” Coach Chryst said.
If Chryst and his staff are excited and trust in Leonhard’s ability, the perpetual reset can be eliminated, and football can proceed as planned with the setbacks of adjustment a distant memory.