It's official. Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has been hired as Pitt's next head coach.
Now, three big questions remain for Wisconsin:
1) Will Chryst remain with the Badgers through the Rose Bowl?
In the short term, this is the most important question. Chryst has proven in the last seven years that he is the most important piece to Wisconsin's offense. Losing him 11 days before the Rose Bowl would be a huge blow in a game where the Badgers will need every point they can possibly get.
My gut feeling is that Chryst stays for the Rose Bowl. The recruiting dead period started Monday and goes through Jan. 3, the day after the Rose Bowl. That means Chryst can't do any in-person recruiting visits until after the Rose Bowl anyway. Obviously he needs to assemble a staff, but that is not as urgent of a priority since a number of coaches will still move around in the coming weeks and most of those decisions are made based on relationships that already exist.
Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema reportedly put a lot of effort into helping Chryst get this job. After seven years, I would be shocked if Chryst didn't repay them -- and his alma mater -- by coaching the in Rose Bowl
2) Who will be the next offensive coordinator for Wisconsin?
This is something that likely won't be decided until after the Rose Bowl, but it's an enormous question. What Chryst has done for the Wisconsin offense over the last seven years is remarkable and the Badgers are losing their starting quarterback, No. 1 wide receiver, and probably their starting running back too.
Offensive line coach Bob Bostad is probably the leader in the clubhouse to get the job. The offensive line makes Wisconsin's offense go and Bostad has been Chryst's right hand man the whole way. He's already the running game coordinator. Many believe he's ready to call all the shots. Of course, he could also go with Chryst to Pitt, but if I'm the Panthers, I want Chryst calling plays for me, which means Bostad would probably stay in Wisconsin. Of course, this is assuming Bielema wants him to be his offensive coordinator.
If not Bostad, tight end coach/recruiting coordinator Joe Rudolph is also a possibility. He would likely have to compete with outside candidates however.
One outside candidate might be former Wisconsin quarterback Brooks Bollinger, who coached Hill Murray High School all the way to the Minnesota state semis this season. A jump from high school all the way to Big Ten offensive coordinator is a pretty big jump, however. Joining the staff in a lesser role -- maybe quarterbacks coach -- seems more likely.
Knowing how important Chryst has been and considering the money they were paying him, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bielema go bigger if Bostad isn't the guy. For instance, it would be interesting to know whether Darrell Bevell would consider leaving the Seattle Seahawks for a college job. Seems like a longshot, but if you're Wisconsin, you have to make that phone call right?
We'll save further speculation for another day, but these are naturally the names coming to mind off the top of my head.
3) What happens with Dayne Crist?
Based on the silence from the Crist camp this week that has coincided with the Pitt silence, it's pretty obvious the former Notre Dame quarterback has been waiting to see what was happening with Paul Chryst. It's anyone's guess as to how Chryst leaving will affect Crist's decision, but he knows what he has at Kansas and he doesn't know what he has at Wisconsin.
Time for Bielema and Russell Wilson to do their best recruiting job.