A flurry of now-former Badger football players have entered the transfer portal following former head coach Paul Chryst’s dismissal Sunday, Oct. 2.

After a disastrous 34–10 blowout to former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema’s Illinois Fighting Illini, UW athletic director Chris McIntosh decided that was the breaking point for the underperforming Badgers as he fired Chryst the next day.

In his place stepped highly sought-after defensive coordinator, and Wisconsin alum, Jim Leonhard. Leonhard, who was officially named interim head coach for the rest of the year, achieved national recognition for his success as defensive coordinator and is one of the hottest names on the coaching market.

Since Chryst’s firing, many players have publicly come out in support of him.

“Anyone who wanted Coach Chryst gone isn’t a part of this team,” star running back Braelon Allen said in a tweet.

After any coaching change, there is an inherent fallout that comes to the program. This involves recruits decommitting and some players leaving for the transfer portal.

Chryst was a players’ coach that still had the locker room on his side, but comments such as Allen’s can be attributed to the suddenness of the move and respect for a Wisconsin lifer. It remains to be seen if Leonhard will stay as head coach next year, but by all accounts, he is popular in the locker room and already heavily involved in the recruiting process.

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Badger fans have grown accustomed to the stability that Chryst’s seven-year tenure brought, but times are changing. When a head coach is fired mid-season, the transfer portal opens for 30 days for players from that school. Since Chryst’s firing, a total of four players have taken advantage of this rule.

The first player to enter the portal was third-string quarterback Deacon Hill. Hill, a redshirt freshman, came in a promising recruit with a cannon of an arm from California. This decision was foreseeable as Wisconsin native Myles Burkett earned the backup role and passed Hill on the depth chart.

Next, came a more surprising decision. Offensive tackle Logan Brown, the third-highest recruit in program history, announced he was transferring after four seasons with the team.

Despite his recruiting ranking, Brown seemed to have been the odd man out with younger tackles passing him on the depth chart. But, things changed when Leonhard said Brown was “dismissed from the program,” and “it was not a choice.” Although details from this internal incident are not public, Leonhard appears to have taken a hard and honest stance on this situation.

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“We need to know who is in or out. Make it clear,” Leonhard said while addressing his team last week.

Two Badger wide receivers, Markus Allen and Stephan Bracey, joined their former teammates in the portal. Allen’s decision comes as somewhat of a surprise, as he still has three years of eligibility left and was expected to be a part of the Badgers’ passing attack going forward. Allen had seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, serving as the Badgers’ fourth receiver. He didn’t play a single snap in Saturday’s loss to Michigan State, likely factoring into his decision. 

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Bracey, a junior, struggled to find the field for the Badgers, collecting 14 yards in his time with the team.  Bracey’s tenure will be remembered by his 91-yard touchdown return on the opening play of the Badgers seven-point victory over Nebraska in 2021.

Less than a month into the Leonhard era, fans have seen the expected personnel shifting begin but have also watched as Leonhard sets the tone for the program going forward. For now, it remains to be seen if the Badgers can successfully salvage a disappointing 2022 season, which will determine how long the Leonhard era will last.