As of Sunday, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst was still a member of the Panthers' organization. If he leaves for Wisconsin as is expected, however, one thing is clear - his tenure at Pitt has been a failed one.
That's not to say that if he ever leaves, it will have been a failure. But having accomplished next to nothing for three seasons, there can be no question that Chryst did not get the program to the next level.
Chryst isn't a terrible coach, mind you. And, for the sake of stability, Pitt would be better off if he sticks around for the long haul. Judging him on his first three seasons, though, it's really difficult to paint a picture of any kind of success.
The Chryst era began with consecutive losses to Youngstown State and Cincinnati. And while a home win over a ranked Virginia Tech team and close loss to Top 5 team Notre Dame, the Panthers also lost to Syracuse and UConn in a season they hoped to contend for a Big East title. An embarrassing bowl loss to Ole Miss gave Pitt its second straight losing (6-7) season and it would be hard to call that year a success by any stretch of the imagination.
In Chryst's sophomore year, the Panthers managed an upset over No. 24 Notre Dame, but other than that and a bowl win against Bowling Green to get to 7-6 on the year, it was another lackluster season. There was the ugly blowout loss to Florida State in the team's ACC and season opener. Pitt lost to Virginia Tech, the only other ranked team they faced, and also lost to Navy. Outside of winning an additional game, there really wasn't much more to take away from that year as well.
Year 3 was supposed to bring more promise with an easier schedule, but that didn't prove to be the case either. Pitt lost six of seven games in the middle of the season, and had to rebound to win their final two to get to a third straight bowl game. While it's admirable that the team didn't give up, losses to Akron and other mind-blowing defeats put too much of a damper on this year to call it a success. There's still even a chance Pitt suffers another losing season with a bowl loss.
As a result, Pitt failed to compete for a conference championship under Chryst in the final Big East season and in his first two ACC years. That's really the goal for a school like Pitt and the Panthers were 0-3 there.
To his credit, Chryst has set Pitt up for success a little better. The offensive line not only has depth, but quality. James Conner and Tyler Boyd are two of the best at their position in all of college football. The defense has been subpar, but the Panthers' will add Jordan Whitehead, the top recruit in Pennsylvania according to Rivals, in 2015. Chryst, by most accounts, has Pitt headed in the right direction.
The results on the field, though, are no better than where they were when he was hired. And as I've written before, with an easier schedule this year, you can actually argue that the program has regressed since the team still wasn't able to get above .500 in the regular season.
Chryst has done some good things at Pitt, but if he leaves for Wisconsin, make no mistake about it - his tenure was a failed one.
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