Assuming reports are true (and please don't pull an Arizona State), Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst will be Pittsburgh's new head coach, the 4th in the past 13 months (that really hurt to write).
Update: Annnnnnnnnd it's official. Chryst is the new coach. Press conference is today at 3 P.M.
While there will be people complaining that Pitt should have gone after FIU head coach Mario Cristobal or "Pitt man" Teryl Austin, this is a solid hire. In his stops at Oregon State and Wisconsin, Chryst has had successful offenses. His offenses have finished in the top 46 nationally eight out of nine seasons. The one outlier was his last season at Oregon State where they finished 54th, hardly something to complain about. He will likely run out of a pro-style offense, but don't think that a mobile QB, like Chad Voytik, can't or won't succeed in this system. Russell Wilson, the talented NC State transfer, is considered a mobile QB and Wisconsin went 11-2 with him at QB as the Badgers won the Big Ten and are heading to the Rose Bowl. In the last two seasons, Wisconsin quarterbacks have completed over 72% of their passes and thrown 47 TDs and just nine picks.
And the best part? He's actually willing to adapt his offense to fit the needs of his QB - unlike Fraud, who we all know said these things but hardly meant anything by it. Again, Russell Wilson, a mobile QB, had a lot of success in the pro-style offense at Wisconsin. Scott Tolzien, the QB in 2010 for the Badgers, was more of a prototypical pro-style QB, yet he also had a lot of success under Chryst at Wisconsin. Whoever Pitt's QB will be next season is going to be given the best opportunity to succeed.Obviously, with the pro-style offense, there's going to a heavy lean on the rushing attack. In his last four seasons at Wisconsin, Chryst's offense has finished in the top 15 in rushing offense and in the top 40 in each of his seven seasons with the Badgers. Montee Ball rushed for over 1700 yards this season and 32 TDs, which is only five off of the NCAA record set by the great Barry Sanders. Ray and Rushel are going to enjoy this.
Considering all we've been through in the past 13 months, we're all wondering if Chryst will be around for the long haul, how or if he'll be able to win over the players, and will he be successful despite lacking any head coach experience. The first is hard to say. He was passed over at Kansas, a much worse job, and Illinois (probably about equal to Pitt). But if he is comfortable in Pittsburgh (does he have family here?) and fans don't run him out of town, he should at least be here for three seasons.
If what people say is true, then we'll soon discover that Chryst isn't much of a talker. The Pittsburgh media is going to have a great time with him. His personality was one of the reasons that he didn't get the job last season and has been passed over many times for head coaching jobs. But in the past year, he's obviously learned enough to impress the Pitt boosters, which helped him move ahead of Cristobal, and ace the interview. We'll see if he's able to win over the players, who's trust Chryst will have to really earn and prove that he really is there for the Pitt players and will do what's necessary to help these guys succeed on and off the field.
Chryst has to given a pass in his first season. Honestly, with all the turmoil in the past year, if Pitt manages to reach 6-6 next season, I'll consider it a success. Heck, if they show enough progress and the coaching staff is meshing well with the players and recruiting is going well, I'll consider virtually any record a success. Yes, we'll moan and groan if Chryst isn't immediately successful, but in the end, Year 1 is really Year 0.
At this rate, I just hope he's here longer than a season. Welcome to Pitt, coach!