Speaking Thursday morning at an Orange Bowl news conference, the Badgers defensive coordinator was asked for the first time about a report that Florida State was targeting him for the same position on the staff of new coach Willie Taggart. While Leonhard didn’t deny he’s had talks with “some teams,” he also presented a pretty clear picture of where he stands.
“I think everyone knows how I think about Wisconsin. Just proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish as a program going back to when I played [at UW and up] to this point,” Leonhard said. “I think I owe it to myself to entertain some phone calls and see what the interest is and where it is, [while] also knowing that I’m very happy with where I’m at.
“Wisconsin is home. I love the university. I truly believe everything on and off the field. I feel like we do it the right way. We’re not the only team doing it the right way, but we’re one of them. To me, the recruiting side of it, just everything outside coaching, I know I want to be in a place where you truly believe in the product, truly believe in the university. It’s one of those situations where I know I have that right now. It’s kind of a nice place to be.”
Leonhard will finish his first year running Wisconsin’s defense on Saturday when the Badgers play Miami in the Orange Bowl. It will also mark the end of just his second season as a coach after spending 10 years in the NFL.
The interest in Leonhard is not unexpected. He’s considered among the fastest risers in the coaching ranks largely based on what he did this season for the Badgers, which ranks first in the country in total defense (253.2 ypg) and No. 3 in scoring defense (13.2 ppg).