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August 30, 2012

Changing the Thought Process

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 10:22 am

Coach Paul Chryst has avoided any public pronouncements on goals or expectations. They exist, but he’s not saying much on them. That has been a consistent approach of his since taking the head coaching spot at Pitt.

“We have a lot of goals. To sum it up, you’ve got to work to improve and guys have got to get better. You’re a better team if each individual player gets better,” Chryst told the Panthers’ official website as summer practice got under way.

“I’ve never been able to tell what a guy’s ceiling is or how good he can be, but I think that it is enough if you keep working to be the best you can be.”

But try and get him to state what the actual goals are for the team. And you get nothing.

I asked him if he’d broached with his players the topic of a Big East title.

“No,” he said, politely.

Does he ever mention overriding goals such as winning a conference or national championship?

“No,” he said, politely.

This year, definitely a good thing. The last two years have seen high fan expectations dashed, followed by brash, bold talk that crashed and fled. Going forward, though, Chryst will not be able to avoid at least talking about team goals a little more specifically. It is also something he has to do.

Talking of player improvement. Talking about how that translates to the team. That is what coordinators and position coaches are supposed to do, and how they are supposed to think. When Chryst speaks of this team, that strikes me as how he still thinks.

It is part of the transition to becoming a head coach from a coordinator. I think this will be an issue/growing pain for Chryst this year.

Being the head coach requires looking at the whole a lot more. A head coach cannot just fixate on a position, player or side of the ball. Those are the things that his assistants and coordinators have to do.

Coach Chryst is the guy who has to set the goals and expectations for the team. Not simply their individual ones. But to get them to want to achieve the team goals.

The players need to have goals. They need to know that their coach believes in what they can achieve.

He can avoid the question. He can duck it. He can use coachspeak to dance around it with the media and fans. He can do all he can to take the pressure off the players in public as to what they can and should do.

Chryst cannot, however, do that to the team.

I like the Chryst approach so far, especially the quotes you include above.

What I am wary about is the fact that Chryst will start of as the offensive playcaller rather than Joe Rudolph.

Apparently that is in the plans or at least that’s what Rudolph said yesterday. They may be some sharing of the duties but this smacks of a coach who can’t let go of authority. Let’s hope not.

We’ll see.

Comment by Reed 08.30.12 @ 10:36 am

I like his approach. The goal should be, to play well and win the up-coming game. After that, you you can look at the things didn’t do well, improve on them, and then move on to the next game. We had bold predictions last year, let’s look to improvement and good play. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Justinian 08.30.12 @ 10:36 am

Reed, Remember Walt Harris was involved with his offence and he did much better than anyone could have resonably expected. Chryst was an offensive coordinator, it will take some time before he gets comfortable enough to delegate. Maybe at this stage of the game, his involvement with the development of the offense will be a good thing.

Comment by Justinian 08.30.12 @ 10:43 am

Anyone in a top mgt position for the first time is always more hands on & delegates less. The more comfortable PC becomes & the more confidence he has in his team will allow for delegation of authority. But, whats wrong w/total control? If you are responsible for the success of the team/company why would you not want total control.

Comment by DC33 08.30.12 @ 10:47 am

Hi Chas, an interesting take. Mine is a tad different yet we share commonalities. First, the differences. Goals for the Team as in BE Championships and National Championships. I am sure PC would love to set the goal as winning both, but he can’t do that with conviction and would come off like Graham. The Team is not good enough for him to pronounce such things and his approach is spot on.

Pitt needs to be 1-0 first, before they can worry about the second win. To think of the season in any other way, is just wild prognostication that can turn ugly with a few upsets along the way. PC is not that foolish and won’t take the bait.

Look back at Chuck Noll when he started. He didn’t come in proclaiming that the Steelers would win Super Bowls. He came in saying we were going to improve and whoever doesn’t buy-in is out. The Steelers have set the expectation of championships because they have won championships. Pitt hasn’t done that and they need to build on that. For those thinking college versus pro, hogwash. Nick Saban took the PC approach when he started at Alabama. He didn’t come in and say we are going to win championships. He came in and said we have a great history and tradition at Alabama and we will work to restore that. He then went out and had a .500 season or two and the rest is history. The real coaches do not set unrealistic expectations. The last guys at Pitt were told to spout off in an effort to sell tickets and empower a fan base. That AD strategy failed.

I do agree with your premise that he will need to set expectations in the coming seasons, just not right yet. Wait until year three or four, which will be year 2 and 3 in the ACC (love typin that). He will know his team better, know the conference better, and will be able to say whether we are improving. If we are not improving, we are getting worse. I do believe PC is the right man at the right time for Pitt. Let’s keep him for awhile and see what happens!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.30.12 @ 10:54 am

Dhd – Loved the Chuck Noll comparison. Let’s hope the results are the same also!

Won’t it be nice to actually have a game to discuss after the Pitt “bizzaro sports world” of the last 13 months?

Comment by Dan 72 08.30.12 @ 11:32 am

@dhuffdaddy. Absolutely. Pro/College, managing a business, whatever, in this case, going about it the right way.

Steelers have won several Super Bowls the past years and are always in the playoffs. Ask Tomlin, he says, and would be expected to say, “we’re here to win Super Bowls”.

Chryst, has to get his first win. Just here to beat Youngstown State. That’s all we should expect from him.

Now, if we have a half-decent season, and a couple good ones to start off in the ACC, say finishing 9-3 and 2nd in the Coastal, eventually, he’ll have to say, and I believe we will (it’s a growing process for him too, remember), “ya, we gotta get to the ACC championship this year”.

Chas is right, they do need goals eventually, this year though, I think everyone just wants to win some games and see how they jell.

Almost “GO” time!!!

Comment by Dan 08.30.12 @ 11:50 am

make that the last 20 months

Comment by wbb 08.30.12 @ 11:53 am

the goal is to (1) improve and (2) win every game it plays. It’s that simple.

I never bought into the idea of setting specific goals. What’s he going to say next year? well, this is our 1st year in the ACC and we will have an inexperienced QB and litlle depth on the OL … our goal is 8 and 4.

Comment by wbb 08.30.12 @ 12:02 pm

I hope his goal is to stay longer then a year !

Just win baby !

Comment by Snala The Panther 08.30.12 @ 12:06 pm

Coach Chryst to call plays on Saturday… Coach Chryst to call plays on Saturday.

Now I can sleep.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.30.12 @ 12:11 pm

I find it hard to believe Chryst doesn’t have goals for his OC, DC, position coaches…
I’m sure Pederson has set goals for Chryst… wins and losses…
Now, if Chryst chooses not to tell the team the goals… that is fine.
If there truely are “no goals” for the coaches….. that is totally assinine…

As far as calling the offensive plays… you have Chryst who has never been HC…. and you have Rudolph who has never been OC… I think it is ok for Chryst to call the plays and some on the job training by Rudolph. I would expect Rudolph to take control by next season.

Comment by Joe D 08.30.12 @ 12:26 pm

My only concern with PC doing the play calling is that I can remember the Walt Harris days. Walt was a great QB coach (any one of his QBs would be head and shoulders above any QB that have been here during DW & TG years!) and he probably spent more time with the QBs than with the other groups/area of the team. And it showed! O-line & d-line were terrible, the D in general was bad and no running game to speak of. Is this what we have to look forward to? I certainly hope not! I’ll be there Sat rooting for PC to win his first! H2P

Comment by DobieGillis 08.30.12 @ 12:48 pm

Everybody seems to be on top of their games today. Great comments and insights from all above.

I agree that Chryst calling the plays is right up his alley and smack dab in the middle of his comfort zone for now. Actually, this might just be the HC coaching up the OC as much as anything, since Rudolph is brand new to this Offensive Coordinator job himself. I have no issues with this happening in the first game, if he is still calling plays by the end of the season, then I may starting asking why.

I just can’t get a read on this guy, Paul Chryst yet. On the one hand he comes across so low keyed that you wonder if he is doubting his own abilities to handle the Head Coaching position. An honest answer early on to the question of how he thought he was doing resulted in the quote that he considered himself a work in progress just like the rest of the team. Such a remark could be viewed as a guy tipping his hand to a lack of self confidence but another may take it as nothing more than a realistic self assessment from the guy, considering that he’s new at the job.

Chryst is so mild mannered during interviews it makes wonder if he has the “fire in the belly” temperment required toget the troops excited about playing football, then he goes out and completely surprises me when he publicly “rips a new one” for Tino when Sunseri offers an excuse for not following the direction that Chryst was coaching him towards.

Now he is keeping things close to the vest regarding the goals that he has set for the team, does he even have any other than “we have to get better? Who knows. I guess you crawl before yiu walk and walk before yiu run but really?

We’ll all learn a lot about him as the season progresses and he has to deal with all the questions surrounding the results that have taken place on the field of play. I just don’t know what to expect from him at this point.

He may turn out to be the silent assassin type, totally focused on the task at hand, the fiercely competitive type that you never suspect can slit your throat until you feel the blade across your neck. Scary thought, no?

All I DO know, is that this guy currently makes me VERY uncomfortable, simply because I just don’t have any idea what he is going to bring to the table on game day and by season’s end, what will the results be?

Hopefully he’ll be the guy to bring back the glory days of Pitt football from 30 years ago. I don’t know, I just hope above all else that he can do this one thing right and that is just “win baby, win”.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.30.12 @ 1:33 pm

Yeah, Walt Harris called the plays. But what really was aggravating was the times he would wait until the D lined up and then made the calls. I don’t know how many times I watched Rutheford(sp?) at Heinz staring at the sidelines with less than 5 seconds on the play clock resulting in a delay penalty.

Comment by pghFred 08.30.12 @ 1:54 pm

Chryst has 85 offensive plays for the games, 8 tackles for losses, 3 takeaways .. wait a minute, that was some other coach.

Comment by wbb 08.30.12 @ 2:05 pm

All Coach did at Wisconsin is WIN. His offenses were excellent.

But here’s the thing: He’s gotta be comparing the squad he left to the squad he inherited and I’m pretty sure it’s day and night. Factor in all new opponents and to go out on any limb at this juncture would be absurd.

At this point he just doesn’t know so why would he set a goal out of the clear blue? And next year, a completely different conference.

Goals are fine if they’re reasonably attainable. The question I’m sure in Coach’s mind is what’s reasonable.

Hail to Pitt

Comment by steve1 08.30.12 @ 2:10 pm

DC33 – because trying to maintain ‘total control’ of a big enterprise is the surest way to failure.

Head Coaches, CEOs, Commanding Officers are there to make sure the people under them are doing their jobs well enough to move the entity forward along stated goals.

There is a whole different world between overseeing a new staff member doing his job for the first time and some in charge taking total control.

Being in-charge is by definition “in control of someone or something; having the responsibility for someone or something” it isn’t doing it all yourself.

Leadership 101 my friends.

Comment by Reed 08.30.12 @ 2:15 pm

The goal of winning the BE is implied by virtue of us being in the conference – he doesn’t have to state the obvious to the players. They aren’t stupid.

But Thank God what a change from last season when Todd Graham would go into every aspect of the games in specific detailed goals… “we’ll go deep ten times a game”; “our QB will get between 50-80 yards rushing per game”; “the ball will be snapped between 15-18 seconds from when the previous play is whistled dead”; “one, two, three, go!!”.

He had so many damn goals the kids couldn’t keep track of them and got pissed off.

Comment by Reed 08.30.12 @ 2:21 pm

PC’s mantra been we (coaches/players) have done nothing yet. His clarion call is you have to continually work at be the best you can be and even then striving to be better. He and his coaches are not immune to that. PC realizes this team, just as himself has done jack crap in respect to playing a game let alone having visions of grandeur in respect to championships.

Why should he give them goals to attain when they have proven nothing. No, he has set the bar of everyone striving to be their best and even then they have to continually strive to get better still.

Comment by Kenny 08.30.12 @ 2:42 pm

Chryst calling the plays what do i think abought that i will let you know after the forth game.
becuse the proof is in the pudding.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.30.12 @ 2:44 pm

Also why should he let Rudolph call the plays with Tino executing them?

Comment by Kenny 08.30.12 @ 2:47 pm

If I am not mistaken some coaches at the college and pro levels call the plays on one side of the ball. Perhaps PC can make it work.

Comment by Houston Panther 08.30.12 @ 2:48 pm

Just because he doesn’t share his goals with the press, doesn’t mean he hasn’t communicated goals to the team and staff. I take his low key public approach to be a sign of quiet confidence. He certainly wasn’t shy in setting the tone of camp and conveying his displeasure to Tino when he thought it was deserved. My primary business mentor was soft spoken, demanding and highly effective. Can’t wait for kickoff.

Comment by shaef 08.30.12 @ 2:52 pm

From a page in American History–“Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

Coach Chryst’s H Bomb explosion agains a lame Tino tells you all you want to know…he WANTS TO

This team has been through so much nonsense in the past 3 years that a game by game approach makes sense….let’s find out who wants to play at Coach Chryst’s high standards.

Comment by isnore 08.30.12 @ 3:05 pm

I don’t think that PC’s calling the plays is unchartered waters in college football. I think I remember when Steve Spurrier called the plays as a head coach, although I don’t think he’s doing that much anymore. As much as I hated him, the former WVU and Michigan coach was pretty involved in play calling as well.
The point is that if you are new leader, you may need to make sure that you are establishing the tone/direction for your assistants and then transition this power to them over time. As long as this is PC’s plan, I don’t have a problem with the approach he’s is taking, but him calling plays on a long-term basis seems like a flawed strategy.
As for the “fire in the belly” or can he inspire his team questions, I grant that this was not something Chuch Noll ever did and he was plenty effective. However, this is college, not the NFL and also a different time. I think its grasping at straws to suggest that PC has a machiavelian plan and is a completely different person in the locker room, on the sideline or at practice than he is behind a microphone. Its my perception that his personality is what you see. Soft-spoken, honest, and direct. I also think that assistant coaches can help bring inspiration to the team and wonder if there are any coaches whose personalities fit this mold.
Whether this will work is a very big question and I wonder if PC’s not wondering the same thing that many of us are, namely, will his methods be effective. Both he and the Pitt faithful, some sitting in their seats like me, are rooting like heck that his methods work.

Comment by Taxing Matters 08.30.12 @ 3:18 pm

to be honest, I never once thought anyone else but Chryst would be calling the plays.

Comment by wbb 08.30.12 @ 3:36 pm

Badgers avg 44 pts last year and only scored under 30pts once with Chryst calling the shots. I have no problem at all Chryst deciding its best for him to call the plays. Maybe seeing Tino everyday made that decision very easy for him.

Comment by why me 08.30.12 @ 3:40 pm

Wbb, Neither did I. I also think FrankCan said it best, we’ll know after the about the forth game.

Comment by Justinian 08.30.12 @ 3:44 pm

what does everyone think the ratio will be run to pass Saturday? especially being PCs first game, probably not playing RG, and going into a short week against Cincy (I was going to list Tino as another issue but I will give him a chance in this offense). I wouldn’t be surprised if everything offensively was very vanilla. My guess would be 70:30 run to pass and hopefully our athletes are just plain better than YSU’s.

Comment by somewhere Jason White is selling insurance 08.30.12 @ 3:46 pm

I agree that Steve P probably gave him some goals, but how are those quantified? Steve P. has no clue if Pitt is more talented than Syracuse or YSU and that is part of the problem in my estimation.

That is why coaches get incentivized for winning a conference, winning a championship and having recruiting classes in the top 20. That is also why those same coaches often receive calls from the NCAA for rules violations. Personally, I would put in each of our coaches contracts that if Pitt wins a national championship, the head coach gets a $500k bonus and each coach gets a $100k bonus! Incentives can be great motivators. I think Saban gets $250k for a championship. Pitt would get that money back 10 fold, but I don’t think Steve P has the guts to do such a thing for fear it may happen. Leadership wants to have that happen!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.30.12 @ 4:57 pm

Makes total sense for Chryst to call the plays the first game.

Enough intangibles going on, eliminate one by calling the plays which you are used to doing and doing well.

This decision again gives a little insight into the Chryst’s personality.

Some guys would have felt obligated to hand it over to the assistant they hired as OC.

While Chryst may come across as easy going, on the inside he is unwavering when it comes to making critical decisions.

Sounds like a winner to me.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.30.12 @ 5:06 pm

I can feel that the natives are getting restless. We be gettin hungry for some Pitt Panther football apparently. LETS GO PITT!

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.30.12 @ 5:42 pm

If you would please, Taxing Matters, teach me. What does “machiavelian” mean?

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.30.12 @ 5:48 pm

It makes sense for PC to call the offensive plays at least for this year. His Wisconsin teams did average 44 points per game. Pitt is going to need a high scoring offense to be successful this year. Last year’s defense gave up almost 23 points per game. I don’t see that it has improved much except that better ball control by the offense will keep the D off the field.

Comment by Houston Panther 08.30.12 @ 5:50 pm

I just read… Fitts Red Shirt Diaries…
re: injuries and play calling..
sounds like it could be a cluster…

Comment by Joe D 08.30.12 @ 6:15 pm

I don’t agree much with wbb on this forum, but I’m with him; I figured Chryst would do most if not all of the playcalling.

As for the defense, with an experienced DC like Huxtable at the helm, I’m not too worried.

I mean, I think most of us here wished Wannstedt was less involved with the offense, for obvious reasons.

Comment by originalether 08.30.12 @ 6:15 pm

Coach C sounds like a well oiled politician at a press conference, no predictions and no controversy. I love his misdirection answers. I hope after he sees the team in action, he will have something more to say. BUT I wouldn’t count on it. Overall I like his STYLE. HTP!!

Comment by barreman 08.30.12 @ 7:07 pm

kind of a quirky fact from this afternoon’s PG … Saturday will be the first time Chryst will be on the sidelines since 1992 – for the last 2 decades, he’s been in the coaches box

Comment by wbb 08.30.12 @ 7:24 pm

I have to disagree with your conclusion Chryst thinks like a coordinator. I coach a different sport. However, many times I am so focused on the execution, I don’t even know the score. I could be winning a title game by a large margine and all I would see are area’s that we need to clean up. I think as a teacher/coach this is where you focus. If you take care of the details, winning takes care of itself.

Comment by mike 08.30.12 @ 7:37 pm

We had so much bad stuff on offense last year that I’m glad Coach Chryst is calling the offensive plays this year at least at the start of the season. Eventually I hope he has a coached up oc who can take over this role. If it takes more than a year that is ok as long as the team as a whole is progressing. I have no problem at all with his low key personality just as long as as long as he is progressing effectively and comfortably into his role of being the man in charge.

I am so glad that we are starting FOOTBALL so we can watch this process unfold! Enough babble! GO PITT!

Comment by opfim 08.30.12 @ 9:27 pm

Like I told my CEO the other day, no one has higher standards for me than I set myself.
I have played for and worked under the goal setters: they tend to be big talkers with little appetite for the multitude of small things it takes to achieve anything.
What Chryst told you Chas, was that he is looking into each player to set their own standards as high as possible. That was the message delivered by Coach Chryst.
Winning truly is a function of preparation meeting opportunity. It has been so long since Pitt football thought like a winner, it seems we have forgotten how.
Play hard and win on each play..the results take care of themselves.

Comment by SFPitt 08.30.12 @ 10:02 pm

Chryst is obviously a great offensive coordinator and I am glad to have him doing the play calling. My one concern is that its a much different situation calling the plays from the field than it is from the press box. Lets not forget, the OC sits up in the booth with few distractions and can plan things out while the D is on the field. Not to mention having access to a ton of information, video, etc… right at your fingertips. PC will not have that luxury as head coach. He will have a hundred things going on around on him and all of the distractions of actually being on the sideline – something he hasn’t done since 1992 when he was an asst coach in the World League. I’m just wondering how that change will effect his ability to call a game?

Comment by Coach Ditka 08.31.12 @ 6:56 am

Ditka – that was one of my concerns also. Apparently Chryst has been up in the box for the last 20 years.

Big change.

I sound like I have a big problem with it but I don’t as long as it is a shared responsibility, witch it sounds like it will be.

I’m think it will be more directive in the sense of “Joe, the run games working – let’s play action on the next series” or some such.

If he’s calling all the X&O plays solely by himself then that is a different story.

I always look at the long term synergy of management teams and if Joe Rudolph signed on expecting to be OC and playcaller and that was changed right before the season begins then it could be a problem.

It is probably much ado about nothing though.

Comment by Reed 08.31.12 @ 7:21 am

^^^ “…which…”

Comment by Reed 08.31.12 @ 7:21 am

What do you know, PC actually made a definitive statement right at the start of his news conference yesterday. He stated that he was “confident”. Then he followed that up with reminding everybody that he has never been on the sideline as the HC of a football team.

This guy is such the polar opposite of Fraud Graham it is almost comical. As I’ve stated before, I just can’t get a read on this guy. I do know this though, I wouldn’t want to be going all in at a Texas Hold Em tourney calling Paul Chryst’s bet as he sits across the table starring at me. He just doen’t give you any tells.

It is going to be interesting watching how he manages the coaching on game day. For some reason I feel “confident” that we are NOT going to see any bonehead 4th Q coaching or “deer in the headlights” moments at critical times in the game however. We’ll see soon enough.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.31.12 @ 8:38 am

Dr. Tom, Yes it’s a far better policy to keep things close to the vest. I certainly prefer that to all the boasting we heard from Toad Graham. We’ll see the results soon enough on the football field.

Comment by Justinian 08.31.12 @ 9:28 am

Apparently I’m falling out of the loop on this one….
What happened to Ejuan Price? out for the year or something with an injury?

Comment by ClarkLotTgate 08.31.12 @ 9:42 am

Dr Tom, sorry probably not the right place for the use of this particular word. I promise to do better in the future.

Comment by Taxing Matters 08.31.12 @ 10:15 am

ClarkLot–Yes,Price is out taking a medical redshirt to fully recover from pectoral muscle tear surgery he had in the spring.

Comment by pitt1972 08.31.12 @ 10:26 am

FWIW, here is an excerpt form the P-G:

Big start for Pitt recruit
A highly touted Pitt football recruit started the season with a memorable performance. Tra’Von Chapman, a quarterback at Roosevelt High in Kent, Ohio, had 518 yards offense in the season opener against Hoban last Friday. Chapman completed 22 of 39 passes for 439 yards and also ran 19 times for 79 yards

Comment by wbb 08.31.12 @ 12:53 pm

@ Taxing Matters, I have no comment, because I still don’t know what “machiavelian” means.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.31.12 @ 1:31 pm


– marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith

-a cunning, amoral, and opportunist person

FOR THE THREAD AT HAND: a Pitt football coach characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty

Comment by Kenny 08.31.12 @ 3:12 pm

Quote from the PIttsburghSportsReport:

“We talk a lot about controlling the controllables. I think a lot of those things (achieving championship goals) are by-products from doing your job and focusing on the things that we can control and those things will be a by-product of that,” Chryst said. “It’s not to say that those aren’t things you hope are residual awards or rewards or effects of doing your job and focusing on things we can control. I think that’s the best way of accomplishing your goals — to focus on the process and not the results. A lot of people want that, we all want that, but we’ve got to do a lot of things to put ourselves in that position so we’ll focus a lot on the things we can control.”

Comment by Kenny 08.31.12 @ 3:27 pm

Thanks Kenny

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.31.12 @ 3:30 pm

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