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January 12, 2012

New head football coach named


Paul Chryst

Pitt has named Paul Chryst, 46, as its head football coach — the sixth head football coach, including interim appointments, in the past 13 months.

The announcement was made Dec. 22, eight days after first-year coach Todd Graham unexpectedly bolted Pitt for the head coaching job at Arizona State.

Chryst, a Wisconsin native, had been the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, since 2005. Although he sports extensive coaching experience dating to 1989, including 16 seasons on the collegiate level and seven years in the professional ranks, this is Chryst’s first head coaching job. Pitt declined to release financial terms or length of contract information requested by the University Times.

In announcing the appointment, athletics director Steve Pederson said, “[Chryst’s] remarkable success at Wisconsin is well documented in the form of Big Ten championships and All-America performances. But beyond his achievements on the football field, we believed it was important to find a leader who gets the very best from his players while also developing the kind of culture that fits the University of Pittsburgh. Paul Chryst is that leader.”

Pederson noted that Chryst previously had interviewed for the Pitt coaching vacancy before Graham was hired in January 2011. Graham succeeded Michael A. Haywood, who was fired after less than a month following a domestic battery charge. (See Jan. 6, 2011, University Times.)

Chryst was a three-year football letterman and the starting quarterback at Wisconsin, where he earned a degree in political science in 1988. He earned a master’s degree in educational administration from West Virginia University in 1990.

(For more background on Chryst, go to

Athletics department officials confirmed this week that to date six assistant coaches have been offered jobs on Chryst’s staff.

Joining Chryst are former Wisconsin assistants Bob Bostad (who will serve as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach), Dave Huxtable (defensive coordinator) and Joe Rudolph (assistant head coach/quarterbacks); former Mt. Lebanon High School coach Chris Haering (linebackers); former Minnesota Vikings assistant Jim Hueber (tight ends), and former North Carolina State assistant Todd Rice (strength and conditioning).

Graham has been criticized widely for the way he left Pitt, notifying University administrators Dec. 13 by phone and players by text message through a surrogate. He cited family concerns in his decision to leave. In his one season the Panthers had a 6-6 record.

Arizona State has confirmed that it will pay Graham’s financial obligation to Pitt to cover the costs for terminating his five-year contract.

Following Graham’s departure, Pederson named Keith Patterson, Graham’s defensive coordinator this past season, who served as interim head coach in the Panthers’ Jan. 7 BBVA Compass Bowl 28-6 loss to SMU.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 44 Issue 9

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