OK, University of Pittsburgh hires a new coach, take three. And… action!
The guy before him, Todd Graham, bailed on Pitt after one year for a "dream" gig at Arizona State last week, and more or less admitted this week he now considers taking the Pitt job a mistake. His predecessor, Mike Haywood, was fired after 17 days on the job for picking up a domestic assault charge last New Year's Eve. The guy he replaced, Dave Wannstedt, was kicked to the curb after six uninspiring seasons that failed to produced a Big East Championship. The only coach who has produced a Big East championship, Walt Harris, immediately bailed for Stanford amid a contract dispute following the Panthers' only BCS appearance in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.
What I'm trying to say is, they haven't really been happy with a football coach here for a long, long time, probably since Jackie Sherill had a roster stocked with the likes of Dan Marino, Mark May and Hugh Greene in the glory years of the early eighties. But maybe this time they've finally found their man.
Chryst has been around the block, including fleeting stops in the World League, the Canadian League, the NFL and three of the NCAA's four divisions. But he's a cheesehead to the bone: Born in Madison, owner of three letters as a backup quarterback at Wisconsin and architect of an irresistible force of an offense over the last seven years, a span that (including 2011) includes five top-20 finishes and back-to-back Rose Bowl campaigns the last two years. Since 2008, the Badgers have led the league in rushing three times, sent five different backs over 1,000 yards and sent four offensive linemen to the NFL — seven, if you count tight ends.
This year's attack set a new school record for scoring at 44.6 points per game, passing the mark set by last year's attack. Quarterback Russell Wilson is on pace to break the Division I record for pass efficiency in a season. Chryst's offenses are physical, balanced and consistent.
As a head coach, well, fill in the blank: He's never been the boss at any level, and the first transition from coordinator to head coach is always a leap of faith. At 46 years old with experience under 11 different head coaches in 20 years, though, he's no spring chicken. Assuming he actually wants to be in Pittsburgh — and that he'll successfully steer clear of criminal charges — the twice-bitten Panthers shouldn't be in any hurry to see him go.