Hmmm, not quite as an effective turn of phrase as the Bible’s “Jesus wept.” but it will do.
Paul Chryst held his first post-hire formal press conference yesterday with the local media types. It was pretty informative in some ways but, and I think we can expect this as long as Chryst is HC, there was nothing earth shattering divulged.
Some of his conversation was about issues that all PITT fans are interested in and some were insights into his personal approach into how he’ll conduct his business. Here are some of the key points he talked about.
In a refrain that we heard in his initial press conference he again attempted to quell the PITT fan’s post-Graham fears by reiterating that his approach to fielding his systems will be markedly different than his predecessor’s. The P-G reported him saying “You never want the system to be the thing that prevents you from playing well,” Chryst said in a meeting with the media on Tuesday. “If you want to learn it, you can learn it absolutely in a fairly short time. I believe that, and I do believe that we can teach it.” Meaning in essence that he’ll adapt to player’s strengths.
Chryst also said that many of the concepts he uses carry over between systems, but there will be new terminology for the players to master. “You are learning a new foreign language,” he said. “That’s our job, to teach it. It’s also our job to make sure we aren’t doing too much and that guys know what they’re doing.”
This last part we’ve heard before at this time last year and IMO was one of the reasons we faltered on offense as it was too much too soon for the players. Let’s hope that Chryst’s philosophy in this matter is realistic and more simplified than Graham’s was.
Tino Sunseri and the QB position. He looked puzzled when Sunseri’s name was brought up and asked “Who is this Tino kid everyone is always asking about?” which brought a standing ovation and sustained applause from those in attendance. I’m kidding obviously. He did say that there would be competition at all the positions going into spring practice but that “I watched enough of Tino to get a feel for him a little bit, but I didn’t want to spend too much time,” he said. “I don’t want to form too many opinions. That’s what we have spring ball for.
Zeise of the P-G reported that ‘Sunseri is the starter’ but no other news venue I read said the same thing…
Zeise wrote: “Chryst made it clear that, while he believes there is “always an open competition” for every job, Sunseri will enter spring practice as the starter, and the coaches will go from there.
The Trib-Review reported that the quarterback position will be crowded in the spring. Anthony Gonzalez and Montour graduate E.J. Banks will move from H-back and defensive back, respectively, to their high school positions, at least temporarily, and join Sunseri, Mark Myers and Trey Anderson. “It will be hard (to get everyone enough reps),” he said. “It’s going to have to sort itself out.” This is good news to me because it shows that he is already anticipating an open competition for this crucial position.
(Note: I highlighted E. J. Banks’ name here because this is something I heard as far back as mid-2011 and wrote about. Some people thought I was crazy for stating this.)
I wouldn’t read too much into this ‘starter’ thing even if he did say it because it is pretty obvious he’ll open things up there as evidenced by some early personnel moves. However, it would be sort of naive to think that Sunseri’s name isn’t at the top of the list going in due to two years of experience.
Regarding his approach to recruiting, which seems to be the burr in a lot of PITT fan’s pants about Chryst so far, he already said that he and his staff would be selective in their approach to recruiting and will have some ‘under the radar’ kids who they want but whose names may not be familiar to others. In essence he’s saying that regardless of which players the general public and the media think are indispensible to PITT’s success the staff will make their own decisions.
In addition, he and his staff won’t conduct a “Junior Day” where sometimes up to a hundred HS juniors are invited to tours the campus and facilities. His recruiting push will take a different form. He’s doing this by inviting players to get a feel for the program, university, spend quality time meeting their respective position coaches and reviewing film in small groups. I believe they will invite five to eight juniors at a time for a full day over the months ahead rather than one mass group hug done in a single Junior Day. Again, this approach blows the top of some fans heads off but to me it makes complete sense.
One thing we should understand is that by doing it this way Chryst is actually putting more time and effort in and actually working harder at recruiting kids than by just having one day where all the prospective recruits show up. Again, he is doing what he said he would in being selective in his approach and wanting the recruits to get the detailed attention and information they need to make PITT their choice.
I’m not sure anything he does in recruiting is going to calm some people’s fears but he certainly hasn’t been sitting on his ass as some fans have inferred. He’s offered three of PA’s best WRs so far in addition to other top shelf kids as Chris Dokish writes here. It is evident that they are doing what they feel is necessary at this point in time. I don’t worry about this issue much at all.
As to his relationships with players currently on the roster, he’s been meeting with them individually for 20 minutes to get to know each other in areas unrelated to football. The PITT News quotes him as saying “These last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed a lot because you get to be with the players and you get to be around them,” he said. “This building isn’t a lot of fun without the players … Each of these players has their own story and you start to get to know them and see where they’re coming from and what makes them unique.”
He also discussed the two staff coaches who left, Faulkner and Bostad and reiterated what he said after Bostad announced in that he anticipated this may happen and had hired Rudolph and Huber specially as a contingency plan. He wasn’t real clear on the remaining two openings, QB and RB coach but the reports inferred that there should be some news on that front soon.