The Harbaughs aren’t the only well-known football coaching family with ties to Super Bowl XLVII.
When the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens kick off this year’s big game Sunday, George Patrick “Geep” Chryst, the son of George H. Chryst and the older brother of Paul, will also be pursuing his first Super Bowl ring.
Geep is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, a position he has held the past two years under second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. Before that. he spent five seasons at the Carolina Panthers’ tight ends coach.
Over the past week and a half, much has been made about brothers John and Jim Harbaugh becoming the first set of NFL head coaching siblings to face each other in the Super Bowl.
It is also well documented that the Harbaugh brothers grew up in a football-centric household, led by their football coaching father Jack, who still enjoys breaking down game film each week of John’s Ravens and Jim’s 49ers.
The Harbaugh boys spent seven years of their childhood in Ann Arbor, Mich., where their father coached defensive backs at the University of Michigan.
Jack went on to become the head coach at Western Michigan (1982–86) and later Western Kentucky (1989–2002) the whole time fostering the coaching gene in his young sons.
Much like the Harbaughs, the Chrysts were always a football family.
George Sr. spent 30 years coaching football in Wisconsin, first as a high school coach at Madison Edgewood (1963–72), where he became the head coach in 1966, then as a college assistant with the Badgers (1972–77) and later here as UW–Platteville’s head coach (1979–1992). He also served as UWP’s athletic director from 1981–1990.
After his father’s move to Platteville, Geep stayed behind to finish high school at Edgewood.
Geep grew up in Madison playing multiple sports but soon gravitated toward football and baseball. He went on to play both at Princeton, but he college gridiron career took a strange twist.
He began his football career at Princeton as a quarterback, but was moved to outside linebacker, where the team was short on bodies.
When he playing days came to an end, Geep began his lengthy and successful coaching career by working for his father here in Platteville in 1987.
In recent years Geep has locally been overshadowed by the exploits of his younger brother Paul, who led the Hillmen to the 1983 football state title and played at Wisconsin before embarking on a successful coaching career of his own that has included helping the Badgers reach back-to-back Rose Bowls in 2010 and 2011 before being named Pittsburgh’s head coach.
But it will be Geep, who has compiled an impressive resume of his own during his 27 years in the profession, coaching for the pro game’s greatest prize on Sunday.
After a year in Platteville, Geep was an assistant for the Badgers in 1988, before spending two years at the University of Wyoming coaching linemen and quarterbacks.
Following his two-year stint at Wyoming, Geep along with his brother Paul drove to Orlando in the spring of 1991 to look for coaching jobs in the now defunct World League’s Draft.
At the event the Chryst brothers caught a break and formed a friendship with current Oregon State head coach Mike Riley. Geep also landed a job coaching wide receivers and running backs for the Orlando Thunder.
In the fall of ’91 experience and proximity allowed Geep to land his first NFL coaching job as the Chicago Bears’ director of research and quality control, a position he held for five years.
Geep actually began helping the team, which used to hold training camp in Platteville, in 1987 when he was a member of his father’s staff, helping in “various capacities” during the Bears’ ’87 camp. That was the same year Geep met Jim Harbaugh, Chicago’s first round pick in 1987, for the first time.
After five years with the Bears, Geep moved on to the Arizona Cardinals, where he spent three years, first coaching tight ends, then quarterbacks in 1998.
In 1999 an old friend helped him land the offensive coordinator job with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers new coach in 1999 was none other than Mike Riley.
In San Diego Geep was also reunited him Harbaugh, who the Charges’ starting quarterback in 1999 at the end of his 14-year NFL career.
Geep returned to Arizona in 2001 for three more years as the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach before going to Carolina.