You can’t blame Pittsburgh for being sensitive about this stuff. Not after the way former coach Todd Graham bolted out the back door for Arizona State. So news that current coach Paul Chryst is the top target to replace Gary Andersen at Wisconsin, you can’t blame Panthers fans and administrators for flinching like survivors of a head-on collision driving through a four-way intersection.
Only, it hasn’t been that way. Not at all.
Part of it is how publicly the search has played out, and how obvious Chryst is as a target of Barry Alvarez‘s affection. But the other part is the way Chryst has handled it, so very un-Graham-like.
“Paul has always been forthright with our players,” Panthers athletics director Steve Pederson told the Pittsburgh Tribune. “And I think he will be forthright with them through all this.” Chryst met with Pederson and chancellor Patrick Gallagher in addition to his players on Friday.
And, of course, the other part of Chryst’s straight-forward approach is that he has no other choice. Wisconsin state law prevents the Badgers from hiring Chryst – or anyone else – until Wednesday at the earliest.
Until then, Chryst leads practice and continues to prepare his team for their Jan. 2 Armed Forces Bowl date with Houston. He has no other choice.
Still, Pederson doesn’t blame Chryst for his interest in Wisconsin, located in his hometown, his alma mater, and his former employer.
“(Wisconsin) is his alma mater,” Pederson said. “You can understand why this would give him pause to think about it. I can’t blame him for that. I don’t think most people would blame him for that.”
Still, Pederson is optimistic Chryst will turn down the Badgers and remain at Pittsburgh for a fourth season. Faced with the prospect of hiring a fourth coach in as many years and you’d be pumping sunshine, too.
“We have made it known to Paul and we have for some time that we would like him to be here for a long time,” Pederson said. “That’s never been an issue here. We are committed to him long-term and hope he will stay committed here long-term. I hope our coach will stay.”