Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is apparently going to be Pitt's next football coach.
As I wrote earlier when it appeared he had become the frontrunner, this is a great hire for Pitt, in my opinion. Feels good to say that for once. I didn't feel that way about Graham when it first happened and I really didn't feel that way about Michael Haywood. So when reports were that Pitt was seriously looking at Mario Cristobal, I was skeptical. But this - this I can get behind.
Who knows if it's the right hire. No one can say that for sure until we actually see what he does. But there is a lot we do know. We know that Chryst has led one of the top offenses in the nation for one of the nation's best teams. That's significant. This isn't a Todd Graham situation where he scored a lot of points in a non-AQ conference. Chryst has been doing it against the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, and others.
You can argue all day about the talent he's had, but he's not coming to a small-time program. Pitt, for all their flaws and disappointments on the field, is still a major college football program. Chryst will have some great resources and Pitt's proved in recent years that you can still recruit here, even with little on-field success.
Another thing to like about Chryst is that he's been in the NFL, albeit briefly, coaching tight ends for the Chargers for a few years. I always like to see that in college coaches because, let's face it, the goal of most recruits is to get to the next level. Even though that's not a reality for most of them, having a coach that knows what it's like to play in the league is always a bonus.
So how'd this go down? Well, reports are that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez endorsed him to Pitt officials. It also appears that some boosters were in favor of Chryst who might bring a bit more stability. But there was also another key figure involved, at least on the fringe level:
In addition, the source said Pitt men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon talked to UW coach Bo Ryan about Chryst on Wednesday. Ryan echoed Alvarez's comments that Chryst would be a solid hire.
We can argue that Dixon might not know all that much about hiring a football coach for Xs and Os, but I think it's great that he at least reached out to Ryan to get his feedback. Dixon clearly has an investment in the university and I'm sure he's just as sick of the football coaching situation as others are.
Okay, so then there's the timing of when we might actually see Chryst get started.Chryst will have to make the decision to coach in the Rose Bowl or not. As SB Nation's Wisconsin blog Bucky's 5th Quarter says, the recruiting dead period is now in effect and runs through the day after the Rose Bowl. So while it would be great if he could start right away and get a jump on things, he couldn't do anything in the way of reaching out to recruits, so he could very well just stay put for now - and I've got no issue with that.
This page seems to indicate he'll stay through the bowl game.
Okay, so Chryst's first job? Well, besides reaching out to Rushel and Chad, and hiring a staff, and getting business cards ... at some point the quarterback issue is going to rear its ugly head. So there's Sunseri, obviously, who actually played respectably the last time he was in a pro style offense. There's Voytik, who will be a true freshman. Then there's this Dayne Crist fellow who's been tracking Chryst. Crist, though, could be headed to Kansas. It's way too early to speculate what Pitt will do at that position, but there's going to be plenty of QB talk in the weeks to come - even though 2011 still isn't even wrapped up yet.
Barry Alvarez, the Badgers' AD, thinks the Pitt job is a good one:
"That’s a good job," UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said of the Pitt opening.
"He’s got a plan to run it," Alvarez said earlier in the day of Chryst’s interest in the job. "They’ve shown they can win. I think you can recruit. They have decent facilities. You (recruit) the East Coast and into Ohio, plus western (Pennsylvania) kids."
Much has been made of the fact that Chryst didn't interview for every single job he could and I think that's significant. I'm not saying he'd be a lifer at Pitt, but I have a hard time seeing this turn into a Todd Graham situation. Let me make this clear - Chryst doesn't need to be a lifer, either. But Pitt will be better off if he comes and stays for more than two years.
There have been reports that boosters weren't exactly enamored with the thought of FIU's Mario Cristobal coming in and potentially leaving after a year or two and, well, can you blame them? That's the last thing Pitt needed. Who knows if that would have been the case, but I think it's safe to assume that Cristobal would have been extremely interested in potentially bolting for the first job to open up in Florida.
Again, we've got no idea how this one will work out. But at first glance, I'm excited about the hire.