With the news that Paul Chryst is staying put, Pitt can get back to the work of building its football program. But what really happened over the last few days? The realistic answer is that we'll probably never know.
But this is a blog and we do nothing better than speculate 'round here. So ... here's my take on what likely happened. Okay, maybe happened.
On Tuesday, Chryst's day was probably progressing normally. Maybe he'd check in on a few recruits, practice with a putter in his office, game plan for the Rebs, decide what he can possibly do in Birmingham, or maybe even enjoy the nice weather around campus. Things would be in for a drastic change soon enough, though.
Tuesday afternoon: 'Ol Paul's Blackberry (at least I like to think he uses a Blackberry) starts blowing up. Bret's leaving Wisconsin. His mind races and he realizes this could be it. Then come the texts...
"Are you leaving, coach?"
"Paul, come to Wisconsin!"
"Coach, what do you really think of Birmingham?"
Okay, so I made that last one up ...
It's nearing 5:00 p.m. and the word is out. Chryst is stuck in traffic while the phone at his house is ringing off the hook. The texts won't stop. Twitter is blowing up and it's utter chaos. Think 2012 the movie times eight (yeah, I'm aware that it was awful ... just go with it).
Tuesday night: Paul starts thinking about what could be. Maybe he even pulls out one of his old Wisconsin sweatshirts to see if it still fits (those O fries are fattening, after all). He talks to Steve Pederson and both know it's a wildly uncomfortable situation. Steve asks ... no begs Chryst not to leave - something about his job being in jeopardy. Paul struggles, wondering about what could be, but not wanting to do the unthinkable to Pitt.
The two offer to think about it ... to sleep on it, actually. In the meantime, something's got to be done. Those annoying bloggers at Cardiac Hill won't stop tweeting. Pitt Blather readers are at an all-time panic. A statement has to be made. It's got to be vague to avoid a disaster later on.
And that's exactly what happens. The word 'commitment' is used without any mention of for how long. Nowhere at any point does Paul insist he's not leaving the program. The statement satisfies those it was intended for and they somehow feel a great level of comfort from it. Reading between the lines, though, it's clear that it's just vague enough to leave room for an early exit without incurring any great wrath later on.
At the same time, coaches are calling recruits. Chryst is even calling himself, realizing that it's less likely he can leave without being the bad guy. It's a whirlwind and all sorts of promises are made. But what else can be done at this point?
Wednesday: Chryst wakes up and still doesn't know exactly how to handle this. It's a mess. He probably slept badly ... horribly, actually. He heads down to breakfast, knowing the speculation will be at an all-time high despite the statement. There's nothing on this day - and I mean nothing. Chryst virtually spends the day out of the public's eye. Friends ask and the only response is an uncomfortable chuckle before an excuse that he's got to draw up some new plays for the bowl game. He gets home, ducks into his mancave, and goes for the only thing that can bring comfort at such a time.
In trying to decide who to use (Walter Payton and the Bears or Bo Jackson and the Raiders, of course), he slams down the remote in frustration. It wasn't supposed to be this way, he reasons. He's heard the speculation, the rumors. He knows the statement from the night before wasn't really adequate. He knows that he could end the speculation once and for all. But instead of coming out and clarifying, instead of clearing things up, he's just... Not. Sure.
Nothing happens on Wednesday because Chryst isn't yet sure ... at least not until maybe Wednesday night or Thursday morning...
Thursday: Chryst and Barry Alvarez have a heart to heart. Barry tells him he'd love to consider him and Chryst says any other time, he'd be honored. But both decide it would be disastrous for Pitt - and in the end, that wouldn't really be fair...especially after Alvarez helped him land the job there and Chryst talked about it being a destination job. The two let out an exasperated sigh before realizing it's time to move on.
Both decide that it could happen in the future, but just not now. Alvarez takes it from here, saying the words we all wanted to hear in that initial statement ... that Chryst isn't coming to Wisconsin. All is well in the world (well, outside of Wisconsin, anyway). Think universal celebrations happening a la the end of Star Wars Episode VI. Things are back to normal and we can all get on with our lives.
Until it's time for another coach to be hired at Wisconsin.