If online reports are accurate, the University of Wisconsin is about to get its second coach with Platteville ties.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported late Thursday that Platteville High School graduate Paul Chryst will become the next UW football coach.
Other media reported Chryst’s imminent hiring Friday. However, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said on Friday that no one had been offered the job and that “We are continuing the process of finding our new head coach.”
Alvarez said today was the earliest the job could be offered to anyone under UW System hiring policies, and that “any accepted offer would be contingent upon approval by the UW System Board of Regents.”
The UW Athletic Department announced that a news conference will be held today at 6 p.m. The news conference will be streamed online at www.btn2go.com/game/wisconsin-football-press-conference-12172014.
If the reports are accurate, Chryst, who has been the coach at Pittsburgh for three seasons, will replace Gary Andersen, who announced Wednesday that he was leaving to coach at Oregon State, after two seasons coaching the Badgers.
Chryst would be the second UW coach with Platteville connections, following UW men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan, who won four NCAA Division III championships at UW–Platteville. Chryst’s father, George, hired Ryan when he was the UW–Platteville athletic director.
Some of Chryst’s most enthusiastic backers for the UW position could be the state’s high school football coaches.
“What he’s done since he left town has certainly prepared him for this job,” said Mark Berg, the coach of Platteville’s 1983 state champion team. “He’s certainly qualified, and he deserves this opportunity.”
Berg’s successor, Scott Statz, called Chryst “a great coach, a great guy, and a great fit. I’m sure Platteville and all of Southwest Wisconsin will be proud to have one of ours represent Badger football.”
Lancaster coach John Hoch told the Wisconsin Sports Network it would be “great to get a Wisconsin person with Wisconsin ties and values — hard work and determination will lead to success.”
“As soon as Gary Andersen announced that he was going to Oregon State, the first person that came to mind as the guy that the coaches in the State would want as the new coach was Paul Chryst,” Dan Brunner, executive director of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, told WSN. “I’m delighted that came to fruition. Paul’s dad, George, was one of the finest men and coaches that I’ve ever been associated with while he was the head coach at Platteville. Paul has followed in his footsteps as a man and coach with high integrity. Paul was always a great asset to the WFCA during his time as a coordinator at UW. I truly believe that the relationship between the WFCA and the UW program will be outstanding. I think Paul will rebuild the fence around Wisconsin that Coach Alvarez always talked about. UW is fortunate to get him back.”
Chryst graduated from PHS in 1984. He was the starting quarterback for the 1983 Hillmen, which won Platteville’s first state football title.
“He was like a coach on the field, there’s no question,” said Berg, who said that Chryst called his own plays his senior year. “Offensively, he had a real flair. He had a good grasp of the offense and he kind of wanted to call the plays, and instead of my [signaling] his plays, he’d flash them to me. There were a handful of times I’d say no.”
Chryst then played football for UW. He was recruited as a quarterback, but finished his career as a tight end under Don Morton, the third coach Chryst played for, after the death of coach Dave McClain in 1986. Chryst was an assistant coach at UW–Platteville in 1993.
Chryst was an assistant coach at Wisconsin in 2002 and from 2005 to 2011, when he was the offensive coordinator under Alvarez and coach Bret Bielema. Between 2009 and 2011, Wisconsin had the best record in the Big Ten, and Chryst was twice a finalist for the Broyles Award as college’s football’s best assistant coach. In 2011, the Badgers set team season records for scoring offense and offensive, rushing and passing yardage on the way to their second of three consecutive Big Ten championships and Rose Bowl berths.
Chryst coached two Heisman Trophy finalists in the same season, quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball.
Before he coached at Wisconsin, Chryst was a graduate assistant at West Virginia in 1989 and 1990, an assistant coach with the late World League of American Football’s San Antonio Riders in 1991 and 1992, an assistant coach with the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Rough Riders in 1994 and Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1996, an assistant at Illinois State in 1995, an assistant at Oregon State in 1997 and 1998, and tight ends coach of the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers from 1999 to 2001.
In between stints at Wisconsin, Chryst was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon State in 2003 and 2004. The Beavers were the first team in NCAA history to have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,500-yard rusher, and two 1,000-yard receivers.
Chryst coached Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson at Oregon State. “He’s a great coach,” said Jackson. “If I were a parent, I’d send my kid to play for him.”
Chryst has a 19–19 record as Pitt’s coach, with bowl berths each of his three seasons. Pittsburgh will play Houston in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 2.
“With his parents and his older brother Geep, I think [coaching] was something he was going to be involved in,” said Berg. “He had awfully good set of parents that were backing him, and his siblings.”