Football USATSI Gallery -- 11/22/14
NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (USATSI)
Pittsburgh vs. Iowa
Aaron Donald is known as a man of few words. College football's most decorated defensive player in 2013, Donald lets his play talk for him.
But when the unanimous All-American speaks--in the huddle, in the weight room or at a press conference--people listen.
Such was the case on a December evening in Detroit's Ford Field. Donald and the Panthers had just defeated Mid-American Conference champion Bowling Green, 30-27, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Named the game's Most Valuable Lineman--the latest of many trophies presented to him that month--Donald sat in front of a filled postgame media room.
Asked to reflect on his career, Donald instead decided to look to the future--Pitt's future.
"The program is going to be back on top with Coach Chryst," Donald said. "That's a guarantee." Donald's head coach simply smiled. Like his all-everything defensive tackle, Paul Chryst is also a man of few words when it comes to talking about himself.
"You don't talk about doing things," Chryst likes to say. "You just go do them."
Entering his third season at Pitt, Chryst has emphasized a substance-over-style approach that perfectly reflects the city of Pittsburgh. His blueprint is based on toughness, teamwork and hard work.
The 2013 season produced further evidence of Chryst's blueprint taking shape. While by no means a finished product, the Panthers continue to evolve into a program ready to compete for championships, on and off the field. Consider:
Pitt's triumph over MAC champ Bowling Green clinched a winning campaign and the program's first bowl victory since 2010.
In the season's final five games, Pitt won three contests with second-half comebacks. Those victories included Notre Dame (28-21), Syracuse (17-16) and Bowling Green. From 2010-12, the Panthers did not win a single contest when facing a second-half deficit.
Pitt also defeated 2013 Coastal Division champion Duke, 58-55, for the Panthers' first ACC win in school history.
Under Chryst's watch, Aaron Donald became Pitt's most decorated defensive player since the legendary Hugh Green. Donald brought home to Pittsburgh an array of glistening hardware, including the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. Donald was selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.
Twelve true freshmen played for Pitt last season and seven made at least one start. The Panthers were led in eight different statistical categories by freshmen.
Tyler Boyd, a unanimous Freshman All-American, paced the nation's frosh receivers with 85 catches for 1,174 yards. Those numbers surpassed Larry Fitzgerald's freshman receiving records at Pitt.
Pitt ranked second in the ACC with six players on the league's All-Academic Football Team.
Pitt's NFL pipeline has also been revived under Chryst. In addition to Donald being a first-round selection, quarterback Tom Savage (Houston Texans) and receiver Devin Street (Dallas Cowboys) were taken in the 2014 draft.
Savage experienced a career revival at Pitt, saying "Coach Chryst made football fun again for me."
"Without Pittsburgh I wouldn't be here," Savage said. "The city took me in and embraced me. I will forever have a spot in my heart for Pitt."
Street enjoyed the best production of his career in Chryst's offense and finished as Pitt's all-time leading pass catcher with 202 receptions.
In his draft day call to Street, Dallas head coach Jason Garrett told him, "I had a great visit with Coach Chryst about you so I know you're well trained and ready to go."
The strong finish and highlights of the 2013 season can be traced back to the year prior, Chryst's first at Pitt, when a stable foundation began to take shape.
The Panthers won four of their final six regular-season games in 2012 to earn a bowl berth. Pitt notched two victories over Top 25 opponents--35-17 over Virginia Tech and 27-6 over Rutgers--and nearly claimed a third before falling in three overtimes, 29-26, to eventual BCS title game entrant Notre Dame. Under Chryst's direction, Pitt produced a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season for the first time ever.
Chryst came to Pitt following an exceptional eight-year tenure at Wisconsin (2002, 2005-11), where he earned acclaim as one of college football's finest teachers and strategists. The Badgers compiled a 60-19 record (.759) during his six seasons overseeing the offense, which annually ranked among the best in the country.
In 2011, Chryst helped Wisconsin to an 11-3 record and its second consecutive Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth. The Badgers featured a prolific offense that set no fewer than a dozen school records, including points per game (44.1 avg.), total offense per game (469.9 avg.), total rushing yards (3,298) and total passing yards (3,280).
From 2009-11, Wisconsin achieved the Big Ten's best record (32-8, .800) while averaging 39.2 points per game during that span. Chryst also coached the UW quarterbacks and was twice named a finalist for the prestigious Broyles Award, annually presented to college football's top assistant.
In many ways, those powerful Wisconsin offenses were a reflection of the man drawing up and calling the plays. The players were well prepared, fundamentally sound, workmanlike and had fun playing the game.
Adapting schemes to his players has been a hallmark of Chryst's coaching career. In 2011, quarterback Russell Wilson transferred from NC State to Wisconsin for his final season of eligibility. Despite not arriving on UW's campus until July, Wilson was seamlessly and effectively adapted into the Badgers' offensive attack.
Under Chryst's guidance, Wilson would throw for more than 3,100 yards with 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions as Wisconsin stormed to the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl. He led the nation in pass efficiency with a staggering 191.78 rating, topping Baylor Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III's 189.48.
In the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson--still considered by some to be a stronger baseball prospect--was selected by the Seattle Seahawks. He seized the starting job as a rookie and in his second season led Seattle to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII, a 43-8 demolition of the Denver Broncos.
In 2010, Chryst's Wisconsin offense nearly became the first in FBS history to have three different players rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. The Badgers' devastating running game featured James White (1,052 yards), John Clay (1,012) and Montee Ball (996). That team had an incredible 48 rushing touchdowns, tying the Big Ten record.
Ball was a first team All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011 after leading the nation in total rushing yards (1,923) and scoring (39 touchdowns and 16.71 points/game). Ball's 39 TDs tied the NCAA record set by Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders in 1988.
Despite the gaudy numbers his offenses annually produce, Chryst refuses to prioritize schemes over relationships. "Players don't care how much you know until they see how much you care," he said. Chryst's approach to coaching undoubtedly was influenced by his family and upbringing. He has been around athletics and coaches his entire life.
His late father George was a longtime successful head coach at UW-Platteville and a former Wisconsin player and assistant coach. Paul's brother Rick was a baseball player at Notre Dame and later the commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. Another brother, Geep, played football and baseball at Princeton and is the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
Legendary Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who currently serves as the Badgers' athletic director, has also been an important and influential mentor for Chryst. "Pittsburgh couldn't have hired anyone more prepared for a head coaching job than Paul Chryst," Alvarez said. "He's one of the best coaches I've been around and he'll experience great success in his new job. Pitt gets an innovator, a hard worker and a winner."
"They were all great teachers," Chryst said of his coaching influences. "They had the ability to make corrections both loud and quietly but never in a demeaning or derogatory way." Such has been Chryst's style during a 25-year coaching career that includes 18 seasons on the collegiate level and seven years in the professional ranks.
Maybe the best compliment Chryst has received came from Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler who played under Chryst at Oregon State. Jackson, who had eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons between 2005-12, said of Chryst, "He's a great coach. If I were a parent, I'd send my kid to play for him."
Chryst was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon State during the 2003 and '04 seasons. The 2003 Beavers became the first team in NCAA Division I history to have a 4,000-yard passer, 1,500-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers. In addition to Jackson, Chryst's Oregon State pupils included running back Ken Simonton, the school's career rushing leader, and quarterback Derek Anderson, who left as the Pac-10's No. 2 career passing leader.
Chryst initially joined Wisconsin in 2002 after a three-year stint in the NFL as tight ends coach with the San Diego Chargers from 1999-2001.
Previously, Chryst held collegiate assistant coaching positions at Oregon State (1997-98), Illinois State (1995) and UW-Platteville (1993). He was also a graduate assistant at West Virginia (1989-90) under the famed Don Nehlen.
Chryst's other coaching posts in professional football included time with the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders (1996) and Ottawa Rough Riders (1994), as well as the World League's San Antonio Riders (1991-92).
Chryst was a three-year football letterman as a quarterback at Wisconsin, where he earned a degree in political science in 1988. He added a master's degree in educational administration from West Virginia in 1990.
He and his wife Robin have two daughters, Katy and JoJo, and a son, Danny.
|BORN||November 17, 1965|
|ALMA MATER||Wisconsin, 1988|
|FAMILY||Chryst and his wife Robin have two daughters, Katy and JoJo, and one son, Danny.|
|COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE|
|WEST VIRGINIA, 1989-90||Graduate Assistant|
|UW-PLATTEVILLE, 1993||Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks|
|ILLINOIS STATE, 1995||Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks|
|OREGON STATE, 1997-98||Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks|
|WISCONSIN, 2002||Tight Ends|
|OREGON STATE, 2003-04||Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks|
|WISCONSIN, 2005||Co-Offensive Coordinator & Tight Ends|
|WISCONSIN, 2006-11||Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks|
|PITTSBURGH, 2012-Present||Head Coach; 2014, Quarterbacks|
|PROFESSIONAL COACHING EXPERIENCE|
|SAN ANTONIO RIDERS, 1991-92||Wide Receivers, Running Backs, Tight Ends (World League of American Football)|
|OTTAWA ROUGHRIDERS, 1994||Quarterbacks (Canadian Football League)|
|SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS, 1996||Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks (Canadian Football League)|
|San Diego Chargers, 1999-2001||Tight Ends (National Football League)|
|FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS UNDER CHRYST|
|Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald*||2013 (Pittsburgh)|
|Running Back Montee Ball||2011 (Wisconsin)|
|Center Pete Konz||2011 (Wisconsin)|
|Guard Kevin Zeitler||2011 (Wisconsin)|
|Tackle Gabe Carimi*||2010 (Wisconsin)|
|Tight End Lance Kendricks#||2010 (Wisconsin)|
|Guard John Moffitt||2010 (Wisconsin)|
|Guard Kraig Urbik||2008 (Wisconsin)|
|Tight End Travis Beckum||2007 (Wisconsin)|
|Tackle Joe Thomas*||2006 (Wisconsin)|
* Unanimous # Consensus
|MAJOR AWARD WINNERS UNDER CHRYST|
|Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation's outstanding defensive player)||Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald (2013)|
|Chuck Bednarik Award (nation's defensive player of the year)||Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald (2013)|
|Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (nation's top senior quarterback)||Quarterback Scott Tolzien (2010)|
|Outland Trophy (nation's outstanding college lineman)||Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald (2013), Tackle Gabe Carimi (2010), Tackle Joe Thomas (2006)|
|Rotary Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman/linebacker)||Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald (2013)|
|CONFERENCE AWARD WINNERS UNDER CHRYST|
|ACC Defensive Player of the Year||Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald (2013)|
|Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year||Running Back Montee Ball (2011)|
|Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year||Montee Ball (2011)|
|Griese-Brees Big Ten Quarterback of the Year||Russell Wilson (2011)|
|Big Ten Lineman of the Year||Tackle Gabe Carimi (2010)|
|Big Ten Player of the Year||Running Back John Clay (2009)|
FOX Names Price and Henderson Midseason All-Americans
Johnson named ESPN.com Midseason All-American
LaSala Promoted to Associate A.D. for Football Administration
USA Today Lauds Ejuan Price and Quadree Henderson
More Midseason All-America Accolades for Pitt Football
Price and Henderson Named Sporting News Midseason All-Americans