Under head coach Lance Leipold, UW-Whitewater went 109-6 and won five D3 football national titles in his seven years.
The Warhawks and the Mount Union Purple Raiders monopolized the D3 championship game, squaring off in nine of the last 10 years. One could pretty much pen these two teams in their brackets all the way to the title game.
But now Leipold is gone. The legendary coach capitalized on his success at UW-Whitewater and made the jump to FBS program Buffalo. After putting the finishing touches on his coaching career for the Warhawks with a national championship in December, Leipold takes over a Bulls program that went 5-6 last season.
During his illustrious career at UW-Whitewater, Leipold was named coach of the year in the WIAC four times. He posted an incredible 109-6 mark and set an NCAA record by becoming the fastest head coach to reach 100 career victories.
Now that Leipold has moved on, what does that mean for the D3 football landscape? Does it open the door for perennial powers like Mary Hardin-Baylor, Hobart, Wesley and many others — teams have been relegated to ‘also-ran’ status for the better part of a decade — to take control of the division?
But there’s a good chance not much will change. Not much has changed at Mount Union, and as for UW-Whitewater, the Warhawks won’t just fade into obscurity now that Leipold is gone. They will still be good. Very good.
New head coach Kevin Bullis is more than capable of carrying on the rich history of UW-Whitewater football. Bullis spent seven years as an assistant under Leipold so he knows the system, and a thing or two about winning.
The defensive-minded Bullis served as defensive run-game coordinator and defensive line coach for the Warhawks nationally ranked defense. He has also served as the defensive coordinator at UW-River Falls and Gustavus Adolphus, along with a stint as an assistant at Minnesota Morris. Needless to say, the experience is there.
Leipold and his staff brought in one talented recruiting class after another, so the pieces are in place for Bullis and the Warhawks to continue their recent (and historic) success. He inherited a promising group of running backs, a very strong offensive line and key returners on the defense like Zach Franz, Justin Dischler and Paul Foster. He also takes over a program that has won 32 straight games, so it’s a group definitely accustomed to winning.
Bullis is surrounded by a great coaching staff that includes many proven winners in the WIAC like John Miech and John O’Grady.
The Warhawks may have lost a legend in Leipold, but don’t count them out. Don’t even expect a dropoff really. The program has earned the benefit of the doubt. Football fans may just see another national championship rematch between UW-Whitewater and Mount Union in 2015.