Wisconsin assistant Paul Chryst to coach at Pitt

By Will Graves

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 22 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Paul Chryst speaks to reporters after being introduced as Pittsburgh's new head coach at the NCAA college football team's training facility in Pittsburgh, on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011.

Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — No proclamations. No promises of Big East titles, or ACC ones for that matter. No preaching about commitment or the virtues of a gimmicky if effective offense.

Paul Chryst doesn't do self-promotion. All he does is coach football.

Good thing, because after a year of turmoil, Pittsburgh needs that more than ever.

The Panthers hired the successful and plainspoken Wisconsin offensive coordinator on Thursday and charged him with providing the once-proud program with a much-needed dose of stability.

Judging by his first day at his new gig, Chryst provided it in bulk.

Calling Pitt a "destination job," Chryst promised only to get to work, a mantra that should resonate with both his players and a fractured fan base tired of a 13-month coaching carousel.

"I do believe it's about what you do and not about what you say," Chryst said. "I'm not going to sit up and talk here about who I am. But I am really excited to roll up our sleeves and go about it with this group of players."

Chryst replaces Todd Graham, who left for Arizona State last week after spending less than a year on campus.

Graham's graceless departure — he resigned when the Panthers wouldn't allow him to talk to the Sun Devils and notified players he was leaving via forwarded text message — was an embarrassing turn for a program that thought it had seen it all over the last year.

Instead, his abrupt move out west left the Panthers searching for their fourth coach in just over a year. It also opened the door for Chryst, who was in the mix when Pitt was looking for someone to replace Dave Wannstedt and Mike Haywood a year ago.

Pitt opted for the flashy Graham, who came in talking about his "high octane" offense and left following a disappointing 6-6 season.

This time around, they went with the candidate who was so committed to getting the job he volunteered to put a hefty buyout clause in the contract to assure athletic director Steve Pederson he was in it for the long haul.

That sense of commitment helped put him over the top. Chryst beat out Florida International coach Mario Cristobal and interim Ohio State coach Luke Fickell for the right to return Pitt to prominence.

Would he have loved to get the position a year ago? Of course. He's not complaining that it took a little longer than he anticipated.

"I wanted to be a head coach if the situation was right, if it was a place you could believe in, if it was a place that you felt fit who you are," Chryst said. "You didn't have to compromise who you are and what you believe in (here). That's what got me excited. When this opportunity presented itself, I wanted to be a part of this."

Chryst met with his players on Thursday morning before returning to Wisconsin to help lead the ninth-ranked Badgers (11-2) into the Rose Bowl.

Staying at Wisconsin through the bowl game was a "no brainer" for Chryst.

"You want to finish out with your guys," Chryst said.

It's that kind of attitude that made Chryst a hit in Madison, where the former Wisconsin quarterback molded the Badgers into an offensive powerhouse.

Wisconsin ranked fourth in the nation in scoring this year, averaging 44.6 points while winning the Big Ten championship.

Quarterback Russell Wilson finished second in the country in pass efficiency, throwing for 31 touchdowns against three interceptions while running back Montee Ball rushed for 32 touchdowns and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

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