By: Chris Gates

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — We all have our opinions on Paul Chryst being named Pitt’s 36th head coach.

Some of us like him, some of us hate him and most, it seems, are using the wait-and-see approach.

After being burned by two head coaches in a row,most Pitt fans seem to be cautiously optimistic. With that, I thought it would be benificial to get the perspetive of this hire from someone that has followed Chryst and the Badgers closely.

Enter Adam Hoge of Bucky’s 5th Quarter, an SBNation blog dedicated to the Wisconsin Badgers. I threw a six pack of questions his way to try and get a better feel for Chryst and what the hire might mean for Pitt football.

Here’s what we discussed…

1) Pitt fans aren’t very willing to trust coaching hires these days. What should they be confident in with the hiring of Paul Chryst?

Hoge: Pitt fans can be confident that they will have a consistently productive offense as long as long Chryst is there. My guess is that he will retain play-calling duties because that is his greatest strength. He’ll also get the most out of two and three star recruits. He has the ability to adapt the offense each year based on the talent in the system — specifically at quarterback — but the main identity of the offense will always be running the football. Defensively? Your guess is as good as mine. He’ll have to hire a good defensive mind and give him a lot of freedom to work.

2) Do you think Pitt is a place Chryst would be interested in staying at long term?

Hoge: It depends on if the NFL ever tempts him again. He’s never been particularly interested in recruiting — he pretty much only recruited the quarterbacks at Wisconsin — so in that regard, I think he will always have his eye on NFL jobs. Still, he’s desired a head coaching job for a long time now and moving his family has always been an issue with him. He was happy in Madison where he grew up and went to school, so I think he likes stability. I don’t see him being tempted by other big college jobs, especially because he can win with Pitt in the Big East and soon, the ACC. If Wisconsin offered him the head coaching job, he’d probably leave in a heartbeat, but Bret Bielema’s not going anywhere.

3) A big knock on him seems to be his personality, but players regard him very highly. Tell us about Chryst as a person.

Hoge: Chryst is definitely a more mellow coach, like a Bill Belichick or Lovie Smith. But he’s also a great person and well respected by coaches and players. Current Pitt and former Wisconsin running back Zach Brown is already raving about Chryst on Twitter and he won’t even get to play for him. The players listen when he talks and he won’t accept any nonsense. Let’s put it this way: Paul Chryst is not going to get accused of beating women and he’s not going to bolt for Tempe tomorrow and send his goodbyes via text. I think Pitt fans will appreciate that. The media on the other hand, they will probably get annoyed with him for the lack of colorful quotes and subdued demeanor on the sideline.

4) Can Chryst be a good recruiter at Pitt?

Hoge: I think this is the biggest question. As I mentioned before, he didn’t do a whole lot of recruiting at Wisconsin and he hasn’t exactly pulled in any big fish when he did. His best recruit at Wisconsin is actually coming in next year (Bart Houston, a quarterback from California) so it’s ironic that he won’t even get to coach him. Chryst will be OK if he hires a good recruiting staff (Joe Rudolph, Wisconsin’s tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator would be a good hire), but I have my reservations. The good news for Pitt is that Chryst is coming from a program that has a habit of maxing out two and three star recruits and he is a big reason for that happening.

5) It seems like Chryst has had more of a run-based offense over the year. What type of game plan should Pitt fans expect to see offensively next season?

Hoge: Expect to see a pro-style offense with a ton of running and a lot of play action. It might sound boring, but Chryst has had the ability through the years to blow your mind with some of the plays he draws up. A big reason why he maxes out his talent is because he re-writes the offense around his players’ abilities every year while keeping the basics the same. You’ll never see him ask a player to do something beyond his abilities and he’ll tweak plays around the offense’s strength.

Running the football will always be the priority and you’ll see a ton of play action, but where they run the ball and what routes the receivers run will change based on the strengths of the offensive line and the abilities of the quarterback. At Wisconsin, he’s had mobile quarterbacks (Tyler Donovan), pocket passers (John Stocco and Scott Tolzien) and then a guy who can do it all (Russell Wilson). It will always be a run-first offense, but you’ll see him adapt to the talent around the running game every year. Also, he loves to use his tight ends in the passing game.

6) I know there are a ton of unknowns and Chryst has never been a head coach. But from your experience, do you see Chryst as a successful head coach?

Hoge: I think I’m in the minority, but I have my doubts about Chryst as a head coach. He’s a brilliant offensive mind, but it’s a lot different on the sideline than in that booth. I can tell you this, he’ll build a respectable, no-nonsense program. He’s not the kind of guy anyone will want to run out of town because he rubs people the wrong way. But will that result in numerous conference titles and BCS berths? I’m not so sure. If I had my guess, I’d say he builds Pitt into a program that at least makes bowl games every year and wins the conference every three years or so. I’m not completely in tune with expectations at Pitt, but that would be good enough at a lot of places.

Big thanks again to Adam Hoge for participating. You can check out his Wisconsin coverage over at Bucky’s 5th Quarter, along with daily sports content and Big Ten coverage over at

Also, give him a follow on Twitter.

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog

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