Day one of the Paul Chryst era of Pitt football is almost in the books and as I sit here and reflect on the events of today, I really do feel good for the people at Pitt because they got it right this time.
Paul Chryst may or may not be a good football coach – by all accounts he is a good football coach – but it is clear to me he will have a chance to succeed because he is a good fit for this program at this point in time.
This is a meat and potatoes town and he is a meat and potatoes guy.
Clearly he won people over quickly when he said early in the news conference that it isn’t what he says that cou/nts, it is what he does.
In other words, he doesn’t have a lot of scripted bytes and catch phrases and he isn’t going to waste a lot of our time with nonsense about how he is going to win championships every day and upgrade the program in every way – he is just going to roll up his sleeves and go to work every day and at the end of a period of time, hopefully you as Pitt fans like what he delivers.
Quite a contrast, quite a good fit but here are some things that I think Paul Chryst will bring to this program looking at things from the outside looking in ----
STABILITY - One of the most important questions he was asked today was “with no ties here, why should people believe you are in this for the long haul” and he made it pretty clear that you can’t trust him, he has to earn that trust. But then he went on to say that he views Pitt as a “destination” job. He also said that moving is hard on the family and a tough decision to make and he doesn’t want to do it again anytime soon. It is clear he wants to be here and when I asked him about the buyout he and Steve Pederson agreed to – which is “significant” in that it will cost a lot of money for Chryst to get out of this contract – he said it was a no-brainer, he wanted it because he doesn’t want to go anywhere and he doesn’t understand why guys are always chasing the next job. “You can’t live in the moment when you live like that,” he said.
CREDIBILITY – Chryst’s resume speaks for itself and he has some of the most impressive coaches out there singing his praises, so there is instant credibility with his hiring. Again, we don’t know if he is going to be a good coach, but his performance over the past six years and his track record of success at a very high level program is impressive. He has a good mix of college and pro experience
ADAPTABILITY – One of the biggest flaws in the high octane system preferred by the last coach is that if there is not a good quarterback in place to run it, it becomes a steaming pile of very low octane, well, you know……Chryst, however, has had some very mediocre quarterbacks and still produced some very good offenses. And why? Because when I asked him about his offensive system he said “it is that we adapt to whatever our personnel is” In other words – if there is a good quarterback, he passes, a quarterback who struggles he protects him etc., .etc. That is the mark of a good coach.
UPWARD MOBILITY – I think the thing that should have people the most excited about Chryst is he is really a throwback, lunch pail kind of hard working guy who just believes that if you outwork your opponents and you stand for the right things and you are consistent, you will win a lot of games. He is said to be extremely detail-oriented and a perfectionist when it comes to execution so if he hires the right staff, I really believe Pitt will begin to move forward as a program again.
Couple of other quick notes before I call it a night (we have plenty of stuff to blog about over the next few days)
** I asked Jeff Metheny, Bethel Park’s football coach who is a good friend of Chryst, what we can expect from his offense and he said “well, no matter what system he runs, he is going to want his team to knock your heads off every play….”
** Zach Brown had a small, very small, part in bringing Chryst to Pitt. Brown played at Wisconsin for four years under Chryst and was one of these fifth-year “graduate student” transfer cases and ended up at Pitt. When he caught word of Chryst being interviewed he went straight to Steve Pederson and said “you have to hire this guy” then proceeded to tell him how much the players who have played for Chryst love him. So when Chryst came to campus today, he was introduced to the team by Brown – who gave him a glowing endorsement.
** Chryst will coach the Badgers through the Rose Bowl then join Pitt in Birmingham (as a spectator) and watch the team in the BBVA Compass Bowl. This was a huge point of emphasis today – and speaks volumes about Chryst (though the $250,000 bonus he gets for finishing the season doesn’t hurt, either) as he wants to “finish the job he started with those guys.” That speaks to the commitment this guy has to his players. It doesn’t hurt that this is a recruiting dead period and he can’t make face to face contact with recruits right now, anyway, but it is a good thing to see a coach finish the job.
** I’ll get more into his possible staff and other notes tomorrow as we continue to move forward but this was a good day for Pitt as the football program has begun to move on.