In times like this, people choose different ways to cope. Some fly into rage. Others anguish and self-pity. Others find refuge in sarcasm, cynicism and bitterness. There’s always drugs and alcohol. Still others find refuge in detaching themselves from the emotions and treating it like watching an ant farm. Some combination is always recommended.
I’m opting for the drunken robot.
It is unlikely anything will be resolved tonight or even tomorrow. It is likely this will take several days to play itself out.
As such, it is important to take a look at some of the key players in how this drama will play out, and the forces at work.
Paul Chryst, Pitt head coach. Duh. This is a Pitt blog, do we care about the Wisconsin search if the speculation was centered on MAC coaches? Here’s the reality. He’s from Wisconsin. His father was a football coach at a small Wisconsin college. Much of his family really and truly lives in the state. He went to Wisconsin. He was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin for a number of years. Even though Wisconsin can certainly offer more money than Pitt, there is no doubt that the reasons he would take the job would be about comfort and going home. While he has issued a statement. It is fair to say that it has little in actual teeth in terms of actual meaning.
On the other hand, there is no way he became the head coach at Pitt without giving the Pitt administration a lot of personal assurances that he was going to be the Pitt coach for a while. Not after everything that went down with his predecessor. The word of a college coach is of admittedly questionable value (doubly so when it comes to coaching vacancy). Most people describe Chryst’s sincerity in such glowing terms, that it seems reasonable to at least hope that the timing of the Wisconsin job opening is simply too soon for him to take it after being given his first chance as the head coach.
Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin AD. The man who had hand-picked Bielema to be his successor as Wisconsin head coach. A native of Western Pennsylvania, and once in the running to be Pitt head coach after Mike Gottfried was fired (instead Paul Hackett went from interim to full time guy, and no one should think too much about this without a bottle near them). He still has ties to the area, and by many accounts worked very hard to make sure Pitt really considered Paul Chryst for the head coaching job. Both to the Pitt administration and with Pitt boosters with whom he is still friends. Would Barry Alvarez have really pushed Chryst for the job if he thought Bielema was planning to leave in a year?
For Alvarez he has to evaluate what Chryst did in his first year at Pitt. A mixed bag that probably raised serious questions as well as encouraged.
Alvarez also has to consider some of the fallout among friends if he were to take Chryst from Pitt after working them hard to help get his guy the job. No one likes to feel like they have been used. That would be the impression left. If after preaching not only Chryst’s football acumen, but his character, Chryst left after one season when Wisconsin called.
That said, Alvarez is the Wisconsin AD. He is their institution. He has an obligation and probably feels a profound duty to do what is best for Wisconsin above all else. If he feels that Chryst is the best choice to be head coach, than all the other stuff is irrelevant. Even if it means burning some bridges in Washington County.
Dave Doreen, NC State head coach. Has the ink dried on his contract yet? Has he actually signed it? The former Wisconsin defensive coordinator (2006-2010) had been the Northern Illinois head coach for the previous two seasons. He has a short but impressive track record that would definitely have him as the front-runner for the job if NC State hadn’t snagged him over the past weekend.
As it stands, his contract at NC State is only $1.8 million per year. He would probably at least like a phone call. Right?
Steve Pederson, Pitt AD. If there is a guy on this list who is drinking heavy tonight, this is the guy. I realize there is a lot of animosity towards Pederson for so many different things. But I just don’t see how you put this on him, other than just because you despise him and that means it has to be his fault. The number of things that had to happen for the Wisconsin job to open one year later was something no one could have predicted.
Bielema seemed safely ensconced in Madison. He wasn’t mentioned as a guy for other jobs or looking to cash in by having his agent put his name out there for other jobs.
The Bielema to Arkansas scenario was something no one saw coming. Hell, at the time Chryst was hired, Petrino was still the head coach of Arkansas and the Razorbacks were going to be an early pick to be a national title contender. To think, this whole drama might have been avoided if Petrino hadn’t wrecked his hog.
Now having said that, Pederson needs to make Chancellor Nordenberg keeps the purse strings loose. Have a sitdown with Chryst and find out what he needs for his assistants and other parts of the football program. Then a talk with Chryst’s agent about other issues and perhaps even a contract extension if necessary.