Wisconsin's Jim Leonhard Says He Turned Down Offer to Become Packers DC

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2021

FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard holds a football before an NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic in Madison, Wis. As lopsided matchups go, No. 4 Wisconsin’s season opener against Western Kentucky on Friday night could provide at least one interesting storyline. The Badgers’ will debut a young secondary with three new starters against a foe that likes to air it out. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash, File)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has turned down an opportunity to serve the same role for the Green Bay Packers

Leonhard told Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal he is going to remain with the Badgers in 2021. 

"It was me choosing UW," he said. "I want to stay at UW. I want to be at this level right now. Extremely flattered. Awesome opportunity. But it was not the right time for me to go back to the NFL.”

The Packers announced Jan. 29, five days after the team's 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game, that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wouldn't return in 2021. 

Pettine was on Green Bay's coaching staff for the past three seasons. His play-calling against the Bucs was heavily criticized, particularly the decision to only have one safety deep on the play that led to Scotty Miller's 39-yard touchdown catch with one second remaining before halftime. 

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters after the game Pettine's decision to play man coverage in that spot was "definitely not the right call."

Per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Packers defensive coordinator job was Leonhard's "if he wants it." Silverstein also noted that Los Angeles Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero is believed to be in the mix. 

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Leonhard, 38, played college football at the University of Wisconsin as a walk-on from 2001 to 2004. He was a three-time All-American as a safety and played 10 seasons in the NFL with five different teams. 

After retiring as a player following the 2014 NFL season, Leonhard joined Paul Chryst's coaching staff as a defensive backs coach in 2016. He added the title of defensive coordinator to his resume the following year.