It’s the time of the college football season when the off-field news and rumors rival the excitement of the on-field action.
The window between the end of conference play and bowl season usually sets the coaching carousel in full-blown spin mode. This season has been no different.
A few high-profile jobs are still available, including Wisconsin’s. Reports have surfaced that the Badgers have found their man in Pitt coach Paul Chryst, the former Wisconsin offensive coordinator.
UW Athletics Director Barry Alvarez is looking for a new coach since Gary Andersen left to take the Oregon State job after 2 seasons in Madison. Alvarez, who will coach the Badgers in their Dec. 31 Outback Bowl game against Auburn, has said due to school hiring policies a job cannot be offered to a candidate before Wednesday.
Here’s what you need to know about Chryst:
1. Chryst is in His 3rd Season at Pitt
Chryst was hired by Pitt on Dec. 22, 2011, and has compiled a 19-19 record with the Panthers over his 3 seasons.
2012 – 6-7 overall, 3-4 in the Big East, loss in the BBVA Compass Bowl
2013 – 7-6 overall, 3-5 in the ACC, win in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
2014 – 6-6 overall, 4-4 in the ACC, plays Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl
Chryst has a 5-year deal with Pitt and made roughly $1.6 million in the 2013 season. According to reports, there is a “significant buyout” in his contract.
2. Chryst Has Ties to Wisconsin
Chryst, 49, is a Wisconsin guy. He was born in Madison (Nov. 17, 1965) and played quarterback for the Badgers from 1986-88. Then in 2002 Chryst became Wisconsin’s tight end coach and returned in 2005 to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator until 2011.
3. Chryst is an Offensive-Minded Coach
Under Chryst’s tutelage, quarterback Russell Wilson, now with the Seattle Seahawks, led the nation in passing efficiency in 2011 with a 191.78 mark. Wilson threw for over 3,100 yards and had 33 touchdowns as the Badgers scored 44.1 points per game that season.
In 2010, Chryst oversaw a dominating rushing offense as the Badgers nearly became the first team in FBS history with 3 players to hit the 1,000-yard mark. James White had 1,052 yards, John Clay totaled 1,012 and Montee Ball added 996 yards as the team rushed for an amazing 48 touchdowns. The following season, Ball was a Heisman Trophy finalist after rushing for 1,923 yards and scored 39 TDs, both nation-leading numbers.
Chryst has many years of coordinating experience, beginning at UW-Platteville in 1993. He also led the offenses of Illinois State (1995), the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders (1996) and Oregon State twice (1997-98 and 2003-04).
His Pitt team scored 31.7 points per game this season, good for 47th in the country and with 251.3 yards per contest, the Panthers rank 15th nationally in that category.
4. Pitt Recruits Are Unsure of Chryst’s Plans
If Chryst is planning on going to Madison, he hasn’t told many. That includes the high school players he has been recruiting for Pitt.
According to one report, 4-star running back recruit Darrin Hall said he’s under the impression Chryst might stay with the Panthers.
“They have the impression he’s staying there,” Hall said of his conversations last week with running backs coach John Settle and director of player development Bob Junko, who told him Chryst met with chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “There are things (Chryst) wants changed, and if they can get it changed, he’s staying.”
Tight end recruit Nick Bowers told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette: “(Pitt linebackers coach Chris) Haering was at my house today and he told me that if [Chryst] had made his mind up, then he would’ve told him by now.”
5. Barry Alvarez Will Coach The Badgers in The Bowl Game
Wisconsin will have a familiar face on the sideline when it faces Auburn in the Dec. 31 Outback Bowl in the form of current Athletics Director and former head coach Barry Alvarez. Alvarez was the head coach in Madison from 1990 to 2005 and compiled a 118-74 record, including an 8-4 bowl mark.
Alvarez also dusted off the headset to coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl after the 2012 season, a 20-14 loss to Stanford. Bret Bielema left Wisconsin for Arkansas the day after the Big Ten Championship Game and Alvarez had just hired Gary Anderson to lead the Badgers the following season.
Alvarez’s last coaching win? A 24-10 victory over Auburn in the Capital One Bowl following the 2005 season.