Barry Alvarez has his man. He had him shortly into this process, really.
When Gary Andersen shocked Madison with his surprise departure for Oregon State on Dec. 10, Alvarez acted quickly. Perhaps knowing how Wisconsin would be perceived -- two years after Bret Bielema ditched UW seemingly out of nowhere for Arkansas, Andersen was doing essentially the same thing -- Alvarez opted for familiarity, and the air of stability it brings along. Chryst went from the top option in "likely replacement" articles to actually, reportedly, Alvarez's top choice.
Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. CT, Alvarez will hold a press conference to discuss its head coaching position inside the Nicholas-Johnson Pavillion at the Kohl Center. Presumably, as has been indicated by initial reports by Jeff Potrykus and later confirmed by Sports Illustrated, it is to announce Chryst as Wisconsin's 30th head coach. A Madison native, Chryst's family moved to Platteville when his father became the head football coach at UW-Platteville in 1979. Chryst played quarterback at Madison, and was a three-year letterwinner.
Chryst's coaching career started with a stint as a graduate assistant at West Virginia in 1989. In 1993, he became the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Platteville. In 1995, he held the same position at Illinois State. He spent 1997-98 in the same role at, you guessed it, Oregon State. After those two seasons, Chryst returned Wisconsin as the tight ends coach for Madison in 2002.
Then he was back in Corvallis with Oregon State, serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Beavers from 2003-04. In 2003, OSU ranked 10th in total offense (463 yards per game) and became the first team in Division I history with a 4,000-yard passer (Derek Anderson), a 1,500-yard rusher (Steven Jackson) and two 1,000-yard receivers (James Newson and Mike Hass)
In 2005, Chryst returned to Madison. He was the co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach in 2005 before being bumped up to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. This was all under Bielema, whose seven years in Madison made the Badgers one of the most stable programs in the country. Outside of a surprisingly weak 2008 campaign, Wisconsin never won fewer than eight games from 2006-12, and won at least 10 games four times with three conference championships. The offensive results under Chryst speak for themselves:
|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)|
Chryst jumped to Pitt in 2012. He replaced Todd Graham, who came to the Panthers from Tulsa. but left after just one season for Arizona State. In stepped Chryst for Pitt's final season in the Big East, which ended in a 6-7 record and a third straight Compass Bowl berth. Pitt went 7-6 in 2013 and reached the Pizza Bowl, then 6-6 this season and will play Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2.
Chryst has been rumored to have interest in bringing offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and defensive coordinator Matt House with him to Wisconsin. Rudolph is a familiar face: he was UW's tight ends coach under Bielema from 2008-11. Before that, he spent time at Ohio State and Nebraska. House spent three seasons at Pitt, the final two as defensive coordinator. Previously, he was a quality coach coach for the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11 and a special teams assistant/strength and conditioning assistant for the Carolina Panthers in 2008.
Things will get interesting, though, especially at defensive coordinator. Alvarez has publicly supported Dave Aranda, who oversaw Wisconsin's defense that finished fourth in total defense and 13th in scoring defense this season. Aranda is also reportedly, and not surprisingly, in demand. He's run a successful 3-4 the last two seasons at UW, but Chryst is a 4-3 coach -- could they mesh, or will Aranda be tempted to join Andersen at Oregon State or head elsewhere? Per early reports Wednesday, it appears Aranda may in fact stay with the Badgers, or at least will not head out west with Andersen.
Elsewhere in assistant coach rumors, former Wisconsin offensive line coach Bob Bostad's name has been heard a few times in this saga. On Tuesday, Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports indicated that Chryst is expected to "make a run at bringing back Bostad, who coached at UW from 2006-11 and is now the offensive line coach of the Tennessee Titans. There also quite a few more Wisconsin connections throughout Chryst's Pitt staff; it wouldn't be surprising to see more coaches follow him back to Madison.
As for current Wisconsin assistants, offensive line coach T.J. Woods an defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a are reportedly "certain" to head to Oregon State. Andersen also retained OSU wide receivers coach Brent Brennan, which would suggest that UW receivers coach Chris Beatty could remain in Wisconsin -- if Chryst wants him. Wisconsin hasn't had the greatest production at receiver in recent years, but Beatty has recruited well. This year's quarterback issues also certainly affected the position.
Of course, we'll see how this all plays out. But the first step is in place: Paul Chryst is back in Wisconsin after some quick work from Barry Alvarez.