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December 5, 2012

So, Now We Wait Uncomfortably

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 12:09 am

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.





Boy your spot on with this one. This is why I love following pitt people not only is it my team but the sarcasm that has blossomed from the chronic illness that is Pitt athletics has made us better people and made us terribly funnier (for the most part) then other schools. The Big crap 10 schools are way to into themselves and take their stuff with straight faces that lowers the value of their own existence and in PSU case others existence. H2P. Wannsteadt for AD and Grimm for coach if this shit goes down. All pitt men time to live or die by them. I want PC to stay though for every reason I can think of.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 12.05.12 @ 1:33 am

The reality of life is that we live in a mobile society.
Regrettably, Pitt is engaged in “corporate welfare” evidenced by its continued employment of Steve Pederson.
Now Pitt is again faced with a potential crisis and remains vulnerable because it perpetuated failure by keeping a proven incompetent AD.
If the worst happens, and I don’t think it will, Pitt is I’ll equipped to handle the fallout.

Comment by SFPitt 12.05.12 @ 2:59 am

You are exactly right. Pitt will have to open up the vault and pay Chryst more money, his assistants more money, have money to hire a Florida recruiter and possibly provide an extension or some form of job security. In the end, it benefits the program. But it should have been done upfront. College football is very mobile, very short term thinking and very much about the money. So how do you attract and retain a coach to an irrelevant program with potential, attendance problems, pro city, the 5th best conference in gray and cold Pittsburgh, well that’s up to the AD and he’ll get no advice from me since his spies read all these sites…and I am no conspiracist either. If Chryst does leave, Stevie must as well because I do not trust him to select another coach. But Pitt must stop being cheap and must start getting serious about football because other schools are. Stop operating like the Pirates. You don’t have to be the Yankees but somewhere in the middle would be nice. I still think Chryst is gone by next week. I have gone down the drunken robot route myself. The Gin and juice was good last night after the kids had gone to sleep.

Comment by TX Panther 12.05.12 @ 6:49 am

The Pitt coaches have apparently called
recruits to reassure them that the coaching
staff would remain at Pitt.

That said we have a right to be paranoid.

Comment by JR 12.05.12 @ 7:19 am

Petrino “wrecked his hog”…come on Chas, she wasn’t THAT ugly.

Oh, you mean the motorcycle. Never mind.

Comment by ECH 12.05.12 @ 7:22 am

And we thought it was so much fun when Petrino was busted for that “bouty call”. Bielema, Arkansas?????, that Wal-Mart money must be tooooo good to pass up.

Comment by alcofan 12.05.12 @ 7:23 am

How are all these coaching contracts so easy to get out of? Stevie should demand we have an answer by next week. This cannot be allowed to drag out. Are contracts meaningless these days. Is there no honor and integrity left in the game? The fans deserve better. The players deserve better. This statement from Chryst just buys him time to interview with Whisky and renegotiate with Pitt. If I didn’t have to work today, I would take my guns out to the field and use up my ammo. Then, I would head to a bar. Then, I would get back on Blather and blathe some more.

Comment by TX Panther 12.05.12 @ 7:24 am

My gut feeling is that Chryst will stay put, but one never knows. What I do think is that if Chryst leaves Pitt will have a hard time to recover in terms of recruiting and rebuilding; seems similar to Penn States punishment in that recruits will not want to come to a place that lacks stability. We need Chryst to stay if for no other reason to add that stability. He called Pitt a destination job, so lets hope he meant that. This drama is way too much for us Pitt fans that are use to mediocrity.

Comment by pittisit37 12.05.12 @ 7:47 am

Can’t we pool our collective wits to conjure up some way this is Tino the Magi’s fault? Or at least SHARE the blame with Steve Pederson, who no doubt called his former protoge Jeff Long and slipped him a Benjamin under the table to please hire Wiscy’s coach, and in so doing stir up this whole fecal hurricane….

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 12.05.12 @ 7:56 am

As much as I am upset about another potential crisis concerning Pitt’s football program I refuse to waste good single malt on what might happen. I’ll drink the cheap stuff…

As some of you corporate guys know, if Steve does his job, he should have had a succession plan for Chryst in place when Chryst was hired. But we know Steve don’t we – rhetorical …

As Pitt alumn’s and fans, we’ll just have to wait and see how Wisconsin’s coaching search plays out. Hopefully, when all is said and done, I’ll be able to breakout the good stuff.

Hail to Pitt! As they say, this too shall pass.

Comment by MariettaMike 12.05.12 @ 7:58 am

Am I the only guy in Panther Nation who is looking at this situation and shrugging my shoulders thinking who cares?

The way I think, there is no issue here. If Chryst is the person that I feel he is, he went into this hire realizing that one of the criteria for his employment was giving stability to the program, especially considering Pitt going to the ACC in 2013. He also strikes me as a guy who sincerely is interested in building something here at Pitt. Considering this is his first head coaching job, I see him cutting his teeth on this Pitt job, making his share of mistakes, learning as he goes along, improving his recruiting techniques etc., all of which improves his worth as a head coach into the future.

Chryst is only 47, he has another 20 years of coaching left in him if he desires it, and right now he doesn’t need to feel that the Wisconsin job is a once in a lifetime lost opportunity if he is offered it and he turns it down. Now that doesn’t mean that he can’t use this as an opportunity to improve his situation at Pitt, especially if he interviews for the Wisky HC job and is offered the position. If that transpires then it is Pederson’s ass that is in a sling, if he screws those negotiations up. Because then, Coach Chryst bargains for a little more money maybe and a little more power maybe and a little more of whatever he wants to put out there to sweeten the deal for him and the Pitt football program going forward. But that is why, IMO his statement was somewhat vague. LEVERAGE my friends, the guy isn’t stupid.

Coach Chryst is still earning the right to be called a head coach. The way I see it, he strikes me as a man who wants to prove that he can turn a major college football program around, earn a name for himself and take this responsibility to it’s full potential. I really feel that he’s here for like 5 years because that is how long it will take for him to figure out if his influence on the program is going to result in those goals coming to fruition. Believe it or not, there are still some people left in this world who think along those lines and care about how their decisions effect the larger picture around them.

I know there will be plenty of you out there that will read this and think that old Dr. Tom is a sap who doesn’t comprehend the current mindset of the modern male in this current society and that the $$$$$ and selfishness of looking out for #1 trumps everthing else nowdays. Sorry, I just don’t see Chryst playing this situation that way. Now Todd Graham,,,,,GONE IN A HEARTBEAT!!! Chryst, he is a different breed.

The Wisconsin job will open up again in the future and who knows five years from now after Coach Chryst has earned his medals at Pitt and has increased his exposure through coaching in the ACC for a few years, he goes off to Wisconsin after the next guy leaves at Wisky, but for now I feel Coach Chryst is solid, if not then FIRE PEDERSON before we hire our next football coach and start ALL over. We’ll see.

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.05.12 @ 8:04 am

Someone on here said that PC has a $10 million buyout, which contractually would make sense giving what Pitt had gone through and what he probably would have agreed to at the time. Can anyone confirm that? There is no way he goes if that is the case, Wisconsin is cheap from what I have read.

Comment by Howard 12.05.12 @ 8:04 am

I think I can see how Tino the Dolt is responsible for this whole mess.

Tiny (under)performs like the infuriating bonehead that he is in 2010. We naturally think dude CAN’T be THAT stupid and scatter-armed, it MUST be coaching, right? Adios Wanny.

Next in, Heywood. Okay, that one’s not on Tino, not even in my fertile imagination.

Enter Todd Graham. I’ll go to my grave believing that he was the exact right hire at the exact right time, and would have been here at least a few years if he didn’t have Donkey Sunseri trying to run his thorobred offense. I can imagine TG getting the same twitch in his left eye working with Tino Short-arm-seri that “Former Chief Inspector Dreyfuss” got from working with Inspector Clouseau in those old Pink Panther movies. Heck, as much as I love Pitt, I’dda been doing a geneology search for family in Arizona too working if I had to work with that uncoachable knucklehead (Tino not TG).

I’m still working on how Bielema leaving for Arkie is Tino’s fault … I’m sure it’s there, I just gotta noddle on it a little longer.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 12.05.12 @ 8:06 am

The Wisconsin job is on the downhill slide. You can’t do 3 straight Rose Bowls with Ohio State and Michigan on the rebound. The B1G’s eastward expansion does not favor Wisconsin. If Coach Chryst plans to return home, the timing now is not good. He has a chance to build his resume with Pitt in a winable ACC. I think he stays. There is a reason Bielema left Wisconsin for second tier SEC job in Arkansas for almost the same money.

Comment by end of an era 12.05.12 @ 8:08 am

Groundhog Day – 3 straight frustratingly inconsistent seasons. 3 straight trips to Birmingham for a post Jan. 1 ESPN progamming filler. 3 straight coaching searches for Pederson. 3 straight recruiting classes in jeopardy…. In the movie, Bill Murray landed Andie McDowell in the end. In this version, maybe Tino will be the QB in perpetuity. Cue the alarm clock and “I got you babe.”

TX Panther – all of these contracts have a way out for both sides. The buyout for Chryst is $6 million according to what I have read. In the era of $100 million athletic budgets at major institutions, $6 million is not a hurdle. All of these football rich schools can find a handful of boosters to cover a paltry $6 million.

Comment by dallas mike 12.05.12 @ 8:16 am

$6 million is a hurdle to a program that looks to be pretty cheap. I say they are cheap because they just lost their head coach to a blah SEC job and because they have lost a bunch of assistants lately. I’m Paul Chryst was able to take a lot of Wiscy staff with him to Pitt because Wiscy wasn’t willing to shell out much at all to assistants because usually cheap Pitt lured them away (probably another reason the Wiscy head coach left this year).

Chryst is a Wiscy man so I couldn’t fault him for leaving, that’s what college sports is nowadays. Although the NCAA should step in an do something.

Also on the FAN this morning they were saying they were hearing rumblings that Alvarez wants to return to coaching, which would set up Chryst taking the job a few years from now once he proved himself.

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.05.12 @ 8:28 am

I plan on hibernating until next week. These discussions although educational are bad for my health. Go Pitt tonight against the Dukes in the City game or Derby as some would say. I guess all will work out in the end like last year and the year before that. Its tough being a Pitt fan. Sometimes I ask myself what did I do to deserve this.

Comment by TX Panther 12.05.12 @ 8:39 am

Wardapalooza – With the exception of Vanderbilt, I really don’t think any job in the SEC could be considered “blah”. The SEC West is like the AL East. For a head coach with a large ego, moving to the epicenter of college football would be the the ultimate challenge. Imagine competing and winning against the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and A&M. In the last 10 years, 5 champions have come from the SEC West and if Alabama defeats ND, it will be 6. You may be right about Wiscy being cheap, but it seems like a better opportunity if you ask me.

Comment by dallas mike 12.05.12 @ 8:49 am

Chas – This can be pinned on Pederson because he was strong armed into this pick by Boosters. Pederson willingly trusted an AD’s most high profile and important decision to others. The AD may have more important duties but hiring a Football Coach is what they hang their hats on … and he put his eggs in someone else’s basket.

Had there not been this perceived incompetence, he would have been able to conduct last years coaching search on his terms – it may or may not have lead to Chryst.

The funny thing is that no one wanted Cristobal because he was seen as a flight risk – and then this happens.

Having ranted, I think Chryst is staying. He will be able to carry a lot of weight going into recruit’s homes and saying he turned down his dream job (whether he got offered or not). Local coaches and recruits will love this.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.05.12 @ 9:23 am

All the same Thabeets…FIU just fired Cristobal so I’m rather happy that the eggs are were they are. This is scary but I think it says something that we hired a coach who is potential candidate at a high profile B1G school NOT the one that just got fired by Florida International.

Comment by BCPITT 12.05.12 @ 10:42 am

Cristobal screwed him self had he takeing a job
some were else he would have had at least 3 years
to prove him self so now he goes from the next hot coach to a nothing coach.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.05.12 @ 11:13 am

I dont want chryst to leave he needs to stay.
but if he leaves we need a pitt man to be the
next coach no more one and dones.
i would even take tinos dad he would be my number 3 pick but i could live with it.
but it needs to be some one who loves pitt some
one with pitt ties.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.05.12 @ 11:53 am

Wannsteadt for AD and Grimm for coach if this shit goes down. All pitt men time to live or die by them. I want PC to stay though for every reason I can think of.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 12.05.12 @ 1:33 am

If this goes does and PC leaves, this should be what Cochran, Nordy and whoever do.

It was absurd at the time asking Wanny to resign(since we had our best 3 year run in 30 frickin years), and considering what’s gone on since that day in infamy, it’s criminal.

If PC stays, Pederson still must go for making PITT a laughingstock around the country and driving a lot of people away from Pitt football(just look at the 30k yellow empty seats at each home game) including lots of football alumni. If they want to de-emphasize football just come out and tell us, don’t have this slow death of a 1000 cuts. And Pederson is 1000 cuts and more.

Comment by Emel 12.05.12 @ 2:20 pm

lol should read:

If this goes down and PC leaves (i’m sure everyone would have known that, us being Pitt grads & such)

Comment by Emel 12.05.12 @ 2:23 pm

Cristobal is a buy cheap now. (not for us but somebody) (but who knows)

Comment by Emel 12.05.12 @ 2:25 pm

Tino’s Dad? He could run the defense by himself! Look what he did at Tennessee. Dead last in the SEC!

It would take an awful lot of love for Dear Ol Pittsburgh to even consider that guy!

Comment by PENGUIN 12.05.12 @ 2:29 pm

With Bret Bielema off to Arkansas, will Wisconsin Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez return to the sidelines to coach the school against Stanford in the Rose Bowl?

“Just a day after news broke that Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema will leave Madison to coach at Arkansas, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of coaching the Badger football team in the Rose Bowl against Stanford on Jan. 1,” writes Lee Hawkins of the Wall Street Journal. “Alvarez, in New York for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame and to raise funds for a new student-athlete facility, said he will make an official announcement of his decision at a press conference Thursday in Wisconsin.”

Alvarez coached the Badgers from 1990 to 2005. He went 117-74-4 in his 16 years there, and 8-3 in his team’s bowl games, including Rose Bowl wins to end the 1993, 1998 and 1999 seasons.

– Vince Verhe

Comment by tedsptman 12.05.12 @ 5:10 pm

Looks like we best hope we don’t get another lump of coal at the BBVA Bowl.

Comment by tedsptman 12.05.12 @ 5:11 pm

Stewart Mandel just mentioned via Twitter that during his Arkansas press conference, Bielema kinda-sorta threw Wisconsin under the bus over assistant coaches. Mandel’s exact tweet read:

“I’m watching presser on delay…Bielema flat out says “Wisconsin wasn’t wired to” pay/retain good assistants. Will be able to at Arkansas.”

Interesting comments to make publicly, and I wonder how much consideration something like that may come into play regarding Chryst.

Comment by Stoosh 12.05.12 @ 6:05 pm

My earlier post wasn’t meant to insinuate that Chryst should leave. Even though I preferred Cristobal at the time, I’m happy with Chryst. Make no mistake about it though, Pederson did not hand pick him.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.05.12 @ 6:58 pm

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