As the dust settles on one of the most eventful days Pitt Football has had in a long time, reflection feels unnecessary. The removal of Steve Pederson as Athletic Director was just as much about the future of Pitt as it was the past. While the questionable decisions of his tenure will never be fully vetted, the future suddenly looks a little brighter. Pitt Football looks ready to take a step up. The status quo was no longer acceptable to Chancellor Gallagher. The hope Dave Wannstedt brought when he promised a return to prominence doesn’t seem crazy anymore. While the who, how, when, and if are still up in the air, at least the questions feel like there could be an answer soon. (more…)
So Wisconsin has a press conference set for 6pm Central Time (7pm for those of us in the East) this evening.
Bastards. Just happens to be the same time Pitt tips against Manhattan, and I would always rather be focused on an actual game than all the other stuff.
On the bright side, there is no surprise at this point. No abrupt departure or hastily arranged press conferences. This has been the week-long build since Gary Andersen stunned Badgers everywhere by making the move to Oregon State.
That’s what it feels like right now. Just waiting for the Wednesday deadline so the mandated charade can be ended.
Oh, Paul Chryst was down in Fort Worth for a couple hours to plug the Armed Forces Bowl. Ostensibly to promote the game and try and sell tickets. The press conference, however, had no live stream (or recording for later) and no transcript was available. Man, even Birmingham was better prepared than this.
Still in a bowl game that will likely have two interim coaches running the show, perhaps no real record is for the best.
Justin had the run down/recap of where things stand. It’s… weird. And a bit uncomfortable.
We were all certain Chryst was gone yesterday morning. Now we are mostly certain. Thanks to the job posting laws for what is ostensibly a state job in Wisconsin, the hiring of Chryst can’t happen until at least Wednesday, December 17 — Happy Hanukkah everyone. (Yes, I know it starts the evening before but it is the first full day so roll with it.)
That means Chryst and Pitt is in a weird place. Pitt can’t fire him, because then they lose whatever buyout remains on his originial five-year deal. Not to mention, they can’t take the chance that somehow the Wisconsin thing falls through and suddenly they have to keep paying Chryst.
Conversely, Chryst can’t really resign because he doesn’t really have a job yet. He may have assurances and belief that the Wisconsin job is his, but there is nothing smart about giving up the present job until is a reality. So both sides have to pretend that the status quo is as it was a week prior. Even if everyone just wants a quick resolution so things can move forward.
It has been a crazy day. I woke up to text messages, Facebook posts, and tweets that all say Chryst is gone. While this is still the likely scenario, there’s a tinge of hope. Let’s go over some facts of what we know:
- Chryst is a candidate for the Wisconsin job and at worst the leader for the job. Most reports indicate the job is his if he accepts if he hasn’t already.
- Wisconsin cannot formally announce a hire until Wednesday due to some legal job posting rule, so no formal announcement can occur until then.
- Chryst met with Chancellor Gallagher and only Gallagher today. Pederson was not a party in this meeting.
- Chryst attended practice today with the team and a meeting was held before. At this meeting he did not tell the team he was leaving.
- Jordan Whitehead said he’s still committed to Pitt. This isn’t relevant to any of the above other than THANK YOU BABY JESUS!!!
Take all of that in. What could it all mean? (more…)
And so it seems the era of Chryst ends with the balance and even keel he preached. A 19-19 record after three years. Perfect balance.
I can’t be particularly angry at Chryst for choosing to go back to his alma mater. His state. Where all his ties are. I can be pissed at everything else around it, but not the decision.
It’s just hard to believe that with such “meh” results, Pitt is staring at yet another coaching search. I had hoped that if the program had to start looking this soon it would be because of success. Not Wisconsin giving Pitt a run for its dysfunction.
Technically it is not official. Yet, it seems to be all but. Paul Chryst will leave Pitt and return to Wisconsin.
Last week Nebraska surprised everyone with the hire of Mike Riley from Oregon State to replace Bo Pelini. That was a stunner no one saw coming. That is until late this afternoon when Oregon State hired Dave Andersen from Wisconsin.
Now, Wisconsin has to hire a new coach and Paul Chryst sits right smack dab in the middle of the speculation.
Just as it made sense for speculating on him when Bielema left for Arkansas two years, ago it still holds true today. A native of Wisconsin. Lots of ties to the AD and the school itself. And in much the same way Ohio State fans held Walt Harris in higher esteem than many Pitt fans did after a time, Wisconsin fans still hold Paul Chryst in a semi-revered status for his work as an OC.
That Pitt rallied enough to finish 6-6 and gets to play in a minor bowl is a bit of a positive. At the same time, it can’t be said that this was a good season. It wasn’t a debacle — though, it sure came close — but it was a definite step back. How much of a step back is really one that won’t be settled until next year.
When Pitt was sitting at 4-6, it was looking with a high degree of certainty that Pitt would finish the year having taken a big step backwards. With an easier schedule, Pitt was performing worse and it showed in the wins and losses.
The season felt over before Thanksgiving. Pitt would probably beat Syracuse, but going down to Miami seemed like a waste at that point. Pitt football was remaining in the doldrums.
A bit from USA Today writer Dan Wolken from his weekly Misery Index on Pitt at that point probably summed up the fears/feelings growing in a lot of fans.
You would think with a career coaching record of 19-19; coming off a 6-6 season — again; home losses to Youngstown State and Akron on the resume; and a recruiting style best described as laid back, that Paul Chryst would not be in the annual coaching carousel discussion for December 2014.
And but for one big red N, that would be true. There are plenty of rumors and ruminations all day that Nebraska at the very least has interest in talking to Chryst.
When you check the boxes for a head coach on Paul Chryst, there is one you can fill in completely. Then slap a coat of paint and epoxy to be sure it is never going to be unchecked. Bland, predictable, non-judgmental coachspeak.
The defense has been a decaying, desecating hot mess for the last three games. Does Coach Chryst think more time needs to be spent working with the defense. Helping the coaches and players? Probably. But you won’t get him to admit it.
Despite the lopsided nature of the box scores, Chryst said Monday that he doesn’t plan to spend more time focusing on the defense this week as the Panthers prepare for Syracuse in their home finale.
At his weekly news conference, Chryst initially declined to answer when asked if he would change how much time he spends in defensive meeting rooms this week, only noting how the Panthers need to improve defensively.
But when pressed, he said he still believes consistency is the best approach.
“You’re going to be watching film and, every week, you make comments,” Chryst said. “I’m going to make sure I’m doing that weekly. It’s no different than how you coach and interact with your players.
“You better coach them all the time and not just wait for the scoreboard to dictate when you’re going to coach or help or do something.”
Chryst added that it is a bit puzzling to see the defensive problems in the past three weeks, given that the unit played well early this season but has struggled to maintain that consistency he preaches.
“There have been some moments where I think we’ve been playing really well, and certainly some moments when we haven’t,” Chryst said.
The system is in place. There is no problem with the system. All will be well, as long as the team continues to follow the system.
The bye week feels like a great time to break out my old column Optimist vs. Pessimist. There’s not a whole lot to be optimistic about the rest of this season, but perhaps a bowl win could inspire a little hope like it did at the end of last season. Naturally, two more wins are needed before Pitt can even think about going to a bowl game. Let’s examine whether or not James Conner and company can win two of the last three games against UNC, the ARCHRIVAL ORANGE, and Miami. (more…)
Fans are panicking. Questions are flying. Four wins and five losses. An ugly October killed any hope of a successful third season. Is the coach anything more than a great offensive coordinator who can’t handle running the show himself? A few good wins have been countered with ugly losses. Does this team have a QB that can win next season? The defense is in shambles and has looked like one of the worst in the country. All the hope and promise of a 7 win season last year is gone. Should the coach be fired and let the program start all over again after recent turmoil? With a little luck in the remaining three games perhaps the season can be salvaged, but two tough opponents make that unlikely. (more…)
With about 10 minutes left in 4th quarter, I slammed down the laptop. Shoved it into my bag. Got myself composed, and started out of the press box. Stopping briefly, I bitterly asked someone — who I knew would stay for all of it, and go to the post-game — “Do me a favor, keep a running tally of how many times Paul Chryst utters the phrase ‘correctable mistakes.'”
I stalked out of the stadium. Trying not to think about the first 50 minutes of that mess. All I wanted to do was go meet back with my friends.
It was homecoming. For all the grief Pitt football can inflict, the ties that bind me to this school are about my friends. I went to Pitt at the end of the Gottfiried and the Hackett era. Football success was not exactly a part of my student experience. There has never been a lot of reveling in past football success when looking back on my college years.
We have kids. We have lives. We live in various other states. We came into Pittsburgh this weekend ostensibly for a football game, but that was just the cover we needed to tell our wives so we could just be around each other for a day. A date set out well in advance that we could all make sure to have the schedule cleared.
So that’s what we did that evening. Without any verbal consensus, we avoided all talk of the GT-Pitt game. We had a great night. Talking, drinking, a good meal, indulging in cigars. The times you can immediately appreciate, because the opportunities to all be together at the same time get harder each year. And we would be damned if a debacle on the field was going to take that from us.
It was painfully obvious to anyone watching yesterday that the defense was woefully unprepared for Georgia Tech’s offense. Even disregarding points and blaming it on turnovers, 612 yards of total offense is so high no amount of expletives can come close to calming the justifiable anger. I’ve defended Matt House a lot this season and the narrative right now is that Pitt’s defense had high ratings due to inferior competition. Let’s explore the stats there to see how close Pitt came to holding opposing offenses to their season average. (more…)
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are coming to Heinz Field this Saturday in an attempt to continue the craziness that is the ACC Coastal Division this season. Everyone in the division is 2-1, 2-2, or 1-2. That means each team is still within one game of first place. There are scenarios in which the entire division goes 4-4, a cluster%&#@ that would certainly make things interesting. A win this weekend and next will suddenly put Pitt in the driver’s seat to take the division. (more…)