UNC Football: Potential Defensive Coordinator Candidates To Replace Gene Chizik

This week, the UNC Football coaching staff witnessed a major shakeup in the coordinator room. Who are some potential candidates to replace Gene Chizik?

Duke's Mayo Bowl - North Carolina v South Carolina
Duke's Mayo Bowl - North Carolina v South Carolina / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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Jim Leonhard - Illinois Senior Football Analyst

Funny enough, I just said I'm not a fan of Big Ten Defensive Coordinators and their stats, and the very next person on this list meets that exact criteria. Leonhard is young at the age of 41 and has defensive coaching experience since 2016, including being the Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach at Wisconsin from 2017-2022.

In four of his five seasons with the Badgers, his defenses finished top-10 nationally in total defense and rushing defense. They also were top-10 four of his five seasons in points per game allowed. All of which leads to an impressive resume.

However, as in the previous slide, Wisconsin's offense was run-heavy and finished 1st or 2nd in the Big Ten in rushing offense from 2017-2020. Running the ball leads to the clock running and the defense staying off the field. That can be beneficial in keeping points per game and yards per game averages low to rank high nationally.

Leonhard was named Interim Head Coach at Wisconsin in 2022 after Paul Chryst was relieved of his head coaching duties. He proceeded to finish the season with a 4-3 record as the head coach of the Badgers. He left Wisconsin at the year and has spent the 2023 season with Illinois as a Senior Football Analyst.

Given all of that and Leonhard's personal resume, this would most likely be the "dream hire" scenario for North Carolina and one that would also seem like a longshot.