December 4, 2012 10:56 p.m.
Will Paul Chryst be returning to his home state and to the football program he helped guide back to the top of the Big Ten Conference in 2010 and ’11?
Even before Bret Bielema was officially introduced Tuesday night as the head coach at Arkansas, a move that caught most members of the UW athletic department off-guard, Chryst’s name surfaced as the obvious successor.
“Paul still misses Wisconsin,” a source close to the UW program said, adding that the Madison native was the No. 1 choice of athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Chryst’s mother still lives in Wisconsin and his middle child, daughter JoJo, is a senior at Madison Edgewood High School. The family still maintains a cottage north of Madison.
“He still misses home,” the source said.
Chryst, 47, has guided Pittsburgh to a 6-6 record in his first season as head coach. The Panthers are scheduled to meet Mississippi in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5 in Birmingham, Ala.
A source said Tuesday it would be difficult for Chryst to leave Pittsburgh after just one season, but the allure of returning to UW might be enough to sway him if offered the job.
Another source close to the program noted the players on the team, most of whom played under Chryst, would be overjoyed to see him return to UW.
Chryst issued a statement late Tuesday night:
“I understand the speculation surrounding my name given today’s developments. I am committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh,” he said. “I am focusing all my time and energy on our team’s bowl game preparation and recruiting a great group of young men to join our program and this outstanding university. We are working hard every day to re-establish this program and I am excited about the future of Pitt football.”
Alvarez was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
However, he did issue a statement through UW:
“I have a responsibility to our student-athletes, our football family and our fans, one that I take very seriously. It is my responsibility to ensure that the football program continues at a high level, and I have already started the process of trying to find a new head coach.”
Chryst lettered at UW in 1986, ’87 and ’88 and enjoyed two coaching stints with the Badgers.
He joined Alvarez’s staff in 2002 as the tight ends coach. He left after just one season, however, and rejoined longtime friend Mike Riley at Oregon State.
Alvarez hired Chryst again in 2005, as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
That turned out to be Alvarez’s final season as head coach and he chose Bielema as his successor. Chryst took over as sole offensive coordinator in 2006, Bielema’s first season at UW, and stayed on through last season before taking the job at Pitt.
Chryst coached the two most prolific offenses in UW history.
In 2010, UW averaged a school-record 41.5 points per game. Then last season, UW set school records for points (44.1 per game) and total yards (469.9 per game).
Chryst took three assistants with him to Pitt – Joe Rudolph, Bob Bostad and Dave Huxtable. Bostad was UW’s offensive line coach. Rudolph was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Huxtable was the team’s linebackers coach.
Bostad took a job with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the season started, so he wouldn’t appear to be a candidate to return to UW.
Rudolph, who played at UW under Alvarez and was a standout offensive lineman in 1992, ’93 and ’94, is close friends with Chryst. He strongly considered staying at UW after Chryst took the job at Pitt but decided to leave in part because of his relationship with Chryst and Bostad.
Alvarez has acknowledged he regretted allowing Chryst to leave after the 2002 season and has displayed a desire to hire coaches with strong ties to UW and the state.
Chryst fits Alvarez’s profile.
He was born in Madison and raised in the state. He is the son of a former coach, the late George Chryst.
Family has always been critical to Chryst’s happiness and he has acknowledged worrying about uprooting his wife and three children too often.
During one 14-year span, from 1992-2005, Chryst moved 10 times for jobs at various levels of football.
Before staying at UW from 2005-’11, his longest stint in any place was for three years as tight ends coach of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers (1999-2001).
Paul Chryst was born on November 17th, 1965 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Chryst
November 17th, 1965
11 + 17 +1+9+6+5 = 49 = his life lesson = Wish come true. What he wants comes to him.
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