Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin |

Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin

Jerry DiPaola
Former Pitt coach Paul Chryst is introduced as Wisconsin's coach during a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, at the Nicholas-Johnson Pavilion in Madison, Wis.
Former Pitt coach Paul Chryst is introduced as Wisconsin's coach during a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, at the Nicholas-Johnson Pavilion in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez (right) and new coach Paul Chryst talk after Chryst's introductory news conference Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez (right) laughs as new coach Paul Chryst responds to a question during his introductory news conference Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, at Nicholas-Johnson Pavilion in Madison, Wis.
New Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst speaks during his introductory news conference Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.
New Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst talks with players (from left) quarterback Joel Stave, fullback Derek Watt and running back Corey Clement after a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.

When Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez asked Paul Chryst if he was ready to coach the school's football team, the answer was a decided yes.

“I'm ready,” Chryst said Wednesday night as he was introduced as the Badgers' next coach. “But (I'm) more ready now.”

Chryst can thank Pitt and the three years he spent learning how to be a head coach, a position he never held before coming to Pittsburgh three years ago almost to the day.

“I wasn't looking to go anywhere,” said Chryst, 49. “But I knew this was a place (where) I wanted to talk to (Alvarez) and explore. To be able to come back to Wisconsin truly is special. It is something you don't take for granted.”

Alvarez said he keeps a list of coaching candidates in the event of a vacancy. It came in handy Dec. 10, when Gary Andersen resigned to become coach at Oregon State.

“(Chryst's) work (at Pitt) moved him right to the top of the list,” Alvarez said at a news conference in Madison, Wis., that included cheerleaders and the university band.

The mood wasn't as festive in Pittsburgh, where university chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced the firing of athletic director Steve Pederson during the Chryst news conference.

Pitt named offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph as interim football coach, and the university said it will conduct nationwide searches to replace Chryst and Pederson.

Alvarez said the buyout in Chryst's Pitt contract was $3 million, equal to the buyout Oregon State must pay to Wisconsin after hiring Andersen.

Except for the three seasons he spent in Pittsburgh during which he went 19-19, Chryst has lived in Wisconsin his entire life, evolving from all-state high school quarterback to Badgers assistant and now to head coach of his alma mater.

Platteville High School teammate Jace Martens said fans are “ecstatic” for Chryst's return.

“He's a Wisconsin guy. Everyone knows him,” Martens said. “If it wasn't Wisconsin, he'd never have left Pitt. He's home now. This is where he belongs.”

That also was the case two years ago when Chryst appeared to be the best candidate for the job after Bret Bielema left for Arkansas.

Having recommended Chryst to Pitt officials only a year earlier, Alvarez refused to hire his former assistant.

“They were a struggling program,” Alvarez said of Pitt, which lost two coaches in 2011 after firing Dave Wannstedt. “They needed someone to come in and stabilize it.”

When Chryst started finding success, no matter how slight, Alvarez said he was certain he had found his man.

“You can't prepare for someone to be a head coach and touch all the bases,” he said. “The things Paul has learned, how he has built the team and recruited some of the top players in the ACC, those are all things that resonated with me.”

Chryst was accompanied at the news conference by wife Robin and their three children. Daughters Katy and JoJo are students at Pitt, and son Danny is a senior at Pine-Richland.

Chryst is returning to Wisconsin for a third time after playing quarterback and tight end there and graduating in 1988 with a political science degree. He was tight ends coach in 2002 and offensive coordinator for Alvarez and Bielema from 2005-2011.

“As great as today is,” Chryst said, “I don't want this to be the best day.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.