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Report: Paul Chryst en route to Wisconsin to meet with Badgers

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Madison.com reports that Barry Alvarez could be closing in on Pitt head coach Paul Chryst.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Update, 11:27 p.m. CT: FOX Sports is reporting that Chryst is indeed the frontrunner for the Wisconsin job, and that he's on his way to Madison.

There is also the photo below, reportedly of Chryst at the Pittsburgh airport on Thursday. The tweet was sent at 9:51 p.m., though it's unclear whether Chryst was departing or arriving at the airport.

Update, 10:30 p.m. CT: Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has some confirmation of mutual interest between Wisconsin and Chryst, plus a few more enticing details about Chryst's possible staff.

Joe Rudolph is currently the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach (tight ends) under Chryst at Pitt. He was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator under Bielema at Wisconsin from 2008-11. It would be interesting to see what his return would mean for Chris Beatty, Wisconsin's current wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Bob Bostad was Wisconsin's offensive line coach under Bielema from 2008-11 and was also UW's tight ends coach in 2006-07. He also held "run game coordinator" duties in both positions. Bostad jumped to the NFL in 2012, coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line from 2012-13.

Ben Worgull of BadgerNation.com reports that a new head coach could be named in the next two days, possibly as soon as Friday, though he doesn't indicate if Chryst is the favorite.

If this does come to fruition, it would be some pretty quick work by Alvarez. It would also make for a solid reunion of Wisconsin's top assistant coaches under Bielema. Who would've seen that happening two years ago?

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Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez has a meeting "imminent" with Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst, Madison.com reported Thursday night.

The report suggests Alvarez has "isolated his first priority" as Chryst in his coaching search, which began Wednesday when Gary Andersen abruptly resigned in order to become the Oregon State head coach. Chryst, a Madison native, was Wisconsin's offensive coordinator from 2005-11. He was also UW's tight ends coach in 2002.

According to Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pitt issued the following statement on Thursday:

Chryst was hired by Pitt in 2012, going 6-7 that season and 7-6 in 2013. This season, the Panthers went 6-6 and will face Houston in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2.

Chryst oversaw some of the great "Wisconsin just scored again" offensive performances while working under Bret Bielema at Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's offense under Paul Chryst, 2005-11
Points / game (rank) Pass yards / game (rank) Rush yards / game (rank) Yards / play (rank)
2011 44.1 (8th) 234.3 (61st) 235.6 (11th) 7.0 (5th)
2010 41.5 (5th) 199.5 (75th) 245.7 (12th) 6.7 (13th)
2009 31.3 (25th) 213.1 (66th) 203.8 (15th) 5.9 (33rd)
2008 27.5 (47th) 188.1 (84th) 211.2 (14th) 5.8 (34th)
2007 29.5 (50th) 208.0 (72nd) 200.8 (22nd) 5.7 (41st)
2006 29.2 (26th) 211.5 (50th) 161.7 (37th) 5.6 (44th)
2005 34.3 (14th) 228.4 (51st) 168.2 (37th) 5.7 (35th)

When news of Andersen's departure first broke, Chryst was widely one of the first names mentioned as a possible replacement. B5Q's Andrew Rosin listed Chryst in his first rundown of potential targets for Alvarez:

Hey! He's still possible, and while he's been eminently mediocre at Pitt (19-19), he's still someone who knows how to build an offense. Joel Stave would absolutely have a shot at a spectacular senior season if the Badgers go bring the Madison native home. Truth be told, this is a name that's lost some luster after multiple seasons in the ACC where the Panthers have been on the treadmill to nowhere, but you will see his name called.

Of course, this is merely the first rumored target for Wisconsin's coaching search. With the position being at a state institution, Wisconsin's coaching search must follow certain protocol. The job posting is publicly listed, for instance.

Alvarez is currently in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for ESPN's Thursday night College Football Awards show, where Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon was announced as the 2014 Doak Walker Award winner.

Alvarez has said he plans to work quickly in hiring a replacement, ideally before Wisconsin faces Auburn in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day. He expressed as much in his first public comments following Andersen's departure on Wednesday.

Alvarez added that he has already started his search, reminding those at the press conference that he is prepared by "keeping a short list" of candidates for a situation like this.

"We will proceed with our search to find a new head coach immediately," Alvarez said. "I feel very confident we will put a good head coach in place, and I promised the kids that.

"Our program is not going to take a step backward."

Alvarez said that he is not worried about finding a head coach and would like to have one in place before the bowl game, similar to what he had done with Andersen when the Badgers made an appearance in the 2013 Rose Bowl. Alvarez added that he had no worries about the current state of the program and what it would mean for the Badgers going forward.

"We've been to five straight [New Year's Day bowl games]. We've got one of the most consistent programs in the country, we have some of the best facilities in the country," Alvarez said.