When they post them I’ll put up links to the Big East interviews of players and coaches. After the interim and associate commissioners took their turns to start Big East Media Day, the Big East Coaches all got turns at the podium. Let’s just say that Chryst won the award for brevity. He got up there said a few words and was done. It really did seem to be a blink and you will miss this situation. The contrast between him and Fraud Graham is very obvious at times. None more so than when it comes to getting in front of a group and a camera. Right now it’s refreshing, charming, and looked at as a positive. “He’s a coach. He doesn’t care about the self-promotion and wasting time with the other BS. He gets “it.” It’s refreshing…”
It’s also real easy to see how that can be turned against him if things don’t go right. “He doesn’t get it. It’s not just the coaching, but selling the program and what he wants to do. It’s not helping recruiting. He’s alienating the fans with his unwillingness to engage…” He might want to give Walt Harris a call and see if he can get some pointers about what to avoid on that respect.
So, I’m not sure Paul Chryst is in the right for jettisoning a local media day at the start of practices.
Instead, they will just start camp and “if anyone wants to talk to us or needs us for anything they can just come by and we will work it out. Why do we need to make people come out an extra day?” Tremendous. His point is very simple, he just doesn’t understand the need to make a big production out of everything and instead he just wants to go about the business of coaching football and trying to help these kids become adults. And it isn’t a thing of where he is restricting access — we have much more access now than we did last year and he is more than willing to accommodate us stinking media types. He’s just very much meat and potatoes and that’s a good thing. He is someone I think Pitt fans and people in Pittsburgh will really get to know and truly appreciate once they get to know him.
It doesn’t have to be a huge production, but increasingly media days are more about kicking off fall practices and generating more interest in the start of the season. It’s increasingly stuff for fans and the coming season. We consume this stuff. We watch streams of the stuff on-line. There are productions on-site that are clearly all for the fans. “Media day” may not be the right word any longer.
Right now, we want to believe. We want to believe Chryst is the guy. That he is the coach this team, this program, this school needs. Just as we wanted to believe it last year with Graham, and before that with Wannstedt. That gives Chryst the freedom to do things his way right now. Change things. That’s fine.
Are these little things that pale in comparison to the coaching, winning games and recruiting? Oh, yes. Completely. Do that and all this stuff is noise that matters very little. And I’m just some guy spouting off looking for reasons to be negative or controversial.
At the same time, they are also some of the little things that build up goodwill in the fanbase. Especially one that has reached a certain level of cynicism and mistrust.
Speaking of recruiting…
One thing Chryst did touch on is the idea that Pitt has begun to recruit as if it is an ACC team and the focus has moved from West in states like Ohio and Indiana to South in states like Virginia and Maryland. That doesn’t mean Pitt won’t be going to Ohio to find players, it will, but the idea is to fit the recruiting area to the new conference footprint. I think that is a good strategy obviously and he said the Panthers will from time to time go to places like North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia – but he was very clear that the most important thing is to shore up the local recruiting base and make sure that Western Pennsylvania and even extreme Eastern Ohio (like Youngstown area) is still the priority.
But to echo Chris Dokish’s past points, it would help if there was someone on that staff with ties to those states like Virginia and Maryland. It is his first year, so there is every possibility that he might shake a spot or two up for next year. At least since publicly he is claiming he hasn’t put a lot of thought into next season.
“You are making me nervous here,” he said, laughing, when a reporter asked about preparations involved in moving next year from the Big East to the ACC. “Like I should be planning a lot more.”
At the same time, Chryst has not done a lot of hiring that goes too far from his own circle. A circle that doesn’t have much in the way of ties to the Southeast.
There is a lot to like about Chryst. Ivan Maisel has the charming, folksy puff piece on Chryst being a totally down to earth guy with the example.
If you want to know who the new Pittsburgh coach is, you must hear about his summer road trip.
Earlier this month, Paul Chryst drove 14 hours from his old home in Wisconsin to his new home with his golden retriever, Riley.
“Somebody had to do it,” Chryst said with a smile.
Plenty of head coaches would see that duty as perfect for a spouse or a graduate assistant. Chryst doesn’t yet see himself as the coach-cum-CEO with assistants at his beck and call. He is who he always has been: a coach’s kid, a guy who met his wife, Robin, in high school in Platteville, Wis.
Chryst’s mentors in coaching have been Don Nehlen, the Hall of Fame coach from West Virginia who hired him as a graduate assistant, and Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who gave him his first paid job. Chryst worked for Riley for more than a decade, in the World League of American Football, the CFL, the NFL and at Oregon State.
Now you know why the golden retriever is named Riley.
What Chryst must keep in mind — now that he is in charge — is that Mike Riley had him around for more than 10 years because Chryst was good at his job and produced results. Not because they were friends.