I should figure out what to call the Twilight Zone between when your favorite weekly newspaper is printed (early Tuesday afternoon) and when it gets to readers (late Tuesday afternoon if you can’t wait to get it in your Wednesday mail).
The problem is that events can negate, or at least change, what gets reported in print. Daily newspapers have that problem too. I am, however, going to hope that doesn’t happen here and opine as to who should be the next UW football coach.
He, of course, is Platteville High School and UW grad and former UW assistant Paul Chryst. (For one thing, we’re classmates, as 1988 political science graduates, though I’m sure he doesn’t remember me in any of his classes, and he may not have been in any of my classes. He also was introduced to the crowd at a 1984 UW Band concert at PHS, with your future favorite weekly newspaper editor in the trumpet section, as coming to UW.)
For people who weren’t Platteville natives, the Chrysts certainly integrated themselves into Platteville. UW–Platteville hired Paul’s father, George, to be the Pioneer football coach and athletic director. From what I’ve been told, if you met George, you never forgot George. This past summer’s 30th anniversary of the Chicago Bears’ opening their training camp at UW–Platteville included the story of how the Bears’ got here, and not Whitewater, in the first place, because, it is said, of George’s ability to talk to the point where the Bears’ officials checking out Platteville and Whitewater didn’t get to Whitewater.
The football stadium where George worked on Saturdays was where Paul played on Friday nights, including the fall of 1983 (despite missing much of the season to injury), a season that culminated in Platteville’s first state football title, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. And then Paul became a second-generation UW football player and graduate, which must have made George proud, even though Paul never saw the Camp Randall turf as the Badgers’ starting quarterback. (Given that UW’s quarterbacks weren’t that good, I’m unclear as to why Paul never got a shot at quarterback.)
Chryst would be the ideal candidate in numerous other ways to replace the departed Gary Andersen, who apparently was unhappy with UW’s high admission standards, and may have been uncomfortable with having UW athletic director Barry Alvarez looking over his shoulder. (Chryst would have been the ideal candidate to replace Bret Bielema two years ago had it not been for the fact he had been at Pittsburgh one season. Given Bielema’s less than classy departure from Wisconsin, maybe Chryst should have been chosen to replace Alvarez instead of Bielema.) Now we find out that Andersen didn’t exactly exert himself with the state’s high school football coaches, which makes you wonder about his priorities, since high school coaches can be your football team’s best ambassadors to potential future players and fans.
However you feel about whether UW should have its current apparently stringent admission standards (and there is more than one way to look at that issue), it’s pretty obvious that UW isn’t going to relax its admission standards enough to make a significant difference. You have to be able to succeed with what’s there, instead of trying to change things and failing. Chryst and former UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, now the coach at North Carolina State, are the only two candidates being mentioned who qualify under that criterionl
Even if Chryst had no UW or Platteville ties, he would be an ideal candidate. Chryst was the offensive coordinator for the two best offenses in UW football history, featuring two NFL quarterbacks, Scott Tolzien and Russell Wilson, and running back Montee Ball, now playing in Denver. Before that, Chryst was the offensive coordinator at Oregon State, the first team in NCAA history to have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,500-yard running back, and two 1,000-yard receivers. His résumé has pro and college stops, including a year at UW–Platteville. You’d think that all Chryst would need to do to get a quarterback to Wisconsin would be to point to Wilson, the best quarterback in UW history based on his one season in Madison. The running backs seem to find Madison on their own.
Over the weekend came disconcerting reports that Pittsburgh was trying to figure out how to keep Chryst from coming to Madison. (Which made one think of what apparently was one of George’s favorite phrases: “Hang in there.”) Or he’s figured out which Pitt coaches are coming to Madison with him. It’s confusing to read the non-attributed sources-within-the-program reports. Let’s hope it ends with another coach coming from Platteville to Madison.