Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst came to Pittsburgh to meet with Pitt officials and interview for the head coaching job.
Chryst is the third known candidate to meet with Pitt - the other two are, of course, Mario Cristobal and Luke Fickell, and he, to me, is the most intriguing one for this reason - he may be the best football coach of the three in terms of X's and O's but he appears to be the guy who has the furthest to go to sell himself because he is not described as a dynamic or exciting personality.
But as one Pitt official said to me when this process began "because of what we've been through we're not likely to win the press conference this time around, nor should we try. We just need to get the right football coach in here."
Chryst interviewed for the job in January - this would have been post-Haywood and pre-Graham - and he really didn't knock the committee's socks off but he is back for three reasons....
1.) He has received some big endorsements, including Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who reached out to Jerry Cochran and Steve Pederson to let them know that Chryst was indeed ready to be a head coach. Chryst has been a coordinator now for long enough and has proven himself and has matured to the point where, it is time for him to be a head coach.
2.) He proved again this year that he is excellent at X's and O's and adapting to the Badgers talent as he molded an offense around the talents of Russell Wilson at quarterback and all the Badgers did was average about 470 yards of offense and about 47 points per game. Wilson threw for 31 touchdowns and only three touchdowns.
3.) He has an excellent reputation in terms of being as sraight-laced as they come and he is also known to be very loyal and thus, he isn't likely to do the "Todd Graham shuffle" and leave the first time someone comes down the pike to throw him some money or whatever.
** It appears that Northern Illinois Dave Doeren is not going to be a candidate and here is why - he has only been there one year and Pitt doesn't want to be viewed as hypocrital after torching Graham on his way out the door for doing the same thing (leaving after year). I don't know that I agree completely because nobody would hold it against Doeren for making this move, especially if it is done the right way, but I do know these are sensitive times for Pitt, which is obviously shaken after this past year of debacles. That philosophy would seem to eliminate another guy who people keep asking about - Vanderbilt's James Franklin - as he has only been there for a year and Vanderbilt made a significant financial investment in him.
This is where we stand at this point, three known candidates and at least two which have come to Pittsburgh, so if there isn't anyone else on the list to interview, perhaps we could be closing in on an offer, someone getting hired and the start of a new era of Pitt football- for only the sixth time in a year.....
** Graham announced some hirings and while it doesn't mean a thing to us for the most part, at least two of them should be of interest. One is Chris Ball who was Pitt's secondary coach in 2007 and then left for Washington State. The other is Bob Connelly who was UCLA's offensive line coach this year, which would mean, perhaps Pitt offensive line coach Spencer Leftwhich, who came with Graham from Tulsa, may have to find another spot to land.
Also, Pitt interim coach Keith Patterson, who is expected to at least talk to Steve Pederson about taking the job permanently so he is technically the fourth candidate, is likely to land at Arizona State but he is expected to look at some other opportunities first.