August 1, 2012

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.

Chaz, I’m sure Riley appreciated Coach Chryst’s company on the 14 hour car ride, to his new home in Pittsburgh. I guess you’re more accustomed to the primadonna types.

Comment by Justinian 08.01.12 @ 2:43 pm

My only friend, Buddy, is a Golden Retriever. I have a new-found admiration for Coach.

Comment by steve1 08.01.12 @ 3:51 pm

as far as I know, the only Pitt assistant with any ACC or even southeastern/eastern seaboard experience is Huxttable. Heck, even the Florida 3 stars and UF / FSU rejects have been too good to Pitt in the last decade not make it a point of emphasis.

Comment by wbb 08.01.12 @ 4:03 pm

PC’s “aw shucks” midwestern style will work just fine here in Pittsburgh if he does just one essential thing correctly and that will be, “just win baby, win”.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.01.12 @ 4:19 pm

And BTW steve1,I bet that Buddy is the BEST friend you ever had too. I have two Goldens myself, I have found that the more people that I meet the more I appreciate my dogs.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.01.12 @ 4:23 pm

Chryst said pitt has begun to recruit as if they were a ACC teamand the foucus has moved to maryland and va.
I hope he ment next years focus becuse if he ment this year he is doeing a bad job of it.

All the players who have commited this year but one are from pa ohio and nj.
so i think he needs to clarify that statment.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.01.12 @ 4:34 pm

Right on, Doc. I kid my son, Buddy’s the son I never had.

And Buddy gives back..he’s a Therapy Dog. He’s got gigs at disabled adult day care centers, nursing homes and hospitals.

I need a leash more than Buddy does.

Comment by steve1 08.01.12 @ 4:35 pm

steve1 you are all very lucky to have your dogs
my black lab died last year after being my frend for 16 years that was long lived for a lab i still miss him they are are true frends.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.01.12 @ 4:50 pm

I’m very sorry for you, Frank. The worst part of Buddy’s gigs are hearing stories like yours. I come out of these places a wreck.

Comment by steve1 08.01.12 @ 4:53 pm

steve1 thank you.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.01.12 @ 5:15 pm

What penn state has lost so far 6 players who were on the team last year.
2 commits from this year.
one player who signed his LOI last year and would have been a freshmen this year
so a total of nine so far and counting this year they have till aug 27 to leave.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.01.12 @ 5:20 pm

Just like recruiting.. slow and steady, keep involved and together.. by the time you get to your new home.. you feel like you never left your old one! HTP Riley!

Comment by CompLit 08.01.12 @ 5:32 pm

Sorry to learn of the loss of you’re Lab, FRANKCAN. My standard rationalization every time I’m grieving over the loss of one of my dogs is to admit that at least it is better than the dog grieving over the loss of me.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.01.12 @ 5:45 pm

ATTENTION: Pitt football student section now called The Panther Pitt. More organized effort to make game day experience better for students. One color t-shirt (navy). Hope it all works.

Comment by Timmeh 08.01.12 @ 6:19 pm

DR. Tom true but i wont get another it is like loseing a brother and i wont go thru it agein.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.01.12 @ 6:29 pm

Please tell me that sweet caroline has been replaced or at least the song begins at the end of the first quarter to avoid that embarassing mass exodus. Will the Pitt have cages to trap the students only to release them once the game is over. Maybe Pitt, the university, needs to start thinking about selling alcohol to keep those legal students in the stadium longer…seriously as long as they don’t drive home and vomit on one another in the stands. Hope to see Riley on the field during one of the games.

Comment by TX Panther 08.01.12 @ 7:43 pm

It is ok to vomit on one another just not on you or me.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.01.12 @ 7:55 pm

Buddy last Sunday at the picnic for incoming NJ Pitt frosh:

link to

Comment by steve1 08.01.12 @ 8:22 pm

i think people are expecting too much from the staff in terms of southern recruiting. what kid from georgia or south carolina would come to pitt when they likely have other acc, big12, or sec offers? theyre just working on forming relationships. with that said, if you recall i wanted a coach with jersey, maryland, or florida ties. but you cant expect more than 1 or 2 kids this year and next year from georgia/florida. if pitt wins and those relationships come to fruition, that number could increase to 3/4 further down the road

Comment by pk 08.02.12 @ 8:11 am

what, no Pitt collar or harness?

Comment by wbb 08.02.12 @ 8:12 am

wbb, where do I get a Pitt collar? Thanks.

As far as a harness, I need one more than Buddy does

Comment by steve1 08.02.12 @ 8:58 am

The kind of kid from SC or Georgia who decides to come to Pitt to play football would be the kind of kid who may want to get away from home and experience big city life. He may want to travel a little beyond his own southern roots and experience a differnt social culture and climate. A kid who may have Steelers posters on his wall and thinks that it would be neat to practice in the same facility as his favorite NFL team. It could be a kid who thinks he may want to pursue a health sciences career and feels playing and going to school at Pitt as an undergrad may help him in being admitted to Med, Dental ,Public Health, etc. professional programs at the University of Pittsburgh. It may be the kid who appreciates the long history of Pitt football and understands that Pitt has put a ton of players into the NFL and has the third ighest number of them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Those kid of kids can be found throughout the ACC region and now that Pitt is going to be getting constant exposure in that region , these kids should be recruited with the expectation that we are going to get our fair share of them. It is no different than picking up recruits from Florida. What kid from Florida would want to travel all the way up to Pennsylvania and play for Pitt? The same type of kid who hails from SC, Georgia or NC or Virginia for that matter.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.02.12 @ 12:00 pm

I agree with you Doc, there are Pittsburgh kids that want to go to school further from home and those some types of kids exist in NC, MD, and GA who may like Pitt. The key is who on the staff has the ability to develop the relationships in these states and can demonstrate the recruiting skills necessary to make it happen? If there is no one on staff with this ability, PC better think about how to get it.
As for PC’s style, I couldn’t agree more with Chas more. If Pitt wins, PC’s soft-spoken down-home personality will be thought of as a tremendous asset. If they lose, he’ll be the former Pitt coach replaced with a coach who’s personality is “dynamic” and “a great promoter”. Its my hope and prayer, that Pitt wins, because we know what can happen with a coach whose personality is opposite PC’s.

Comment by Taxing Matters 08.02.12 @ 12:48 pm

I said it previously but Pitt has had several Florida players who weren’t recruited by UF or FSU that have greatly contributed over the past decade or so.

A Bryant, G Lee, G Romeus, J Sheard, C Session, H Blades, G Mustakas, T & K Cox — just off the top of my head, I know there are many more. All of them were 2 or 3 stars.

Comment by wbb 08.02.12 @ 12:55 pm

I don’t think that the only choices for coaches’ personalities are Fraud’s one man band or no personality. Wannstedt had a personality and could recruit. He just couldn’t get the results on game day. A good head coach is a CEO. He doesn’t have to do everything himself. If he isn’t a good recruiter which I am becoming more and more convinced that PC isn’t then he needs to hire some to compensate for his weakness in this area. Otherwise he and Pitt are in trouble.

Comment by Houston Panther 08.02.12 @ 1:39 pm

while Wanny was apparently a good closer, he benefitted by having young, energetic recruiters fro strategic areas … Hafley – new Jersey, Brian A (forgot his last name) – Eastern PA and Maryland, and for Florida, he had a guy who ended up on Urban Myers staff at UF.

Comment by wbb 08.02.12 @ 2:35 pm

[…] Hired him when he took over at Oregon State and took him with him to San Diego (NFL); Chryst even named his dog Riley. George Chryst: father and coach at Wisconsin-Platteville in 80s and 90s. Geep Chryst: older […]

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