All those good words you’ve been hearing about Pitt coach Paul Chryst in the past week were confirmed by Bret Bielma in my conversation with him Monday morning.
I telephoned Bielma two days before Christmas for a story I was writing about Chryst that appeared in the Tribune-Review on Sunday. The head coach of the Badgers called back while going through his messages on the day he was leaving for the Rose Bowl, even though he knew the story already had been written. (As an aside, it was 8:18 a.m., so I’m assuming I wasn’t last on his list. At least, that’s what I told myself.)
Bielma said Chryst has turned down “four or five” opportunities to become a head coach before he said yes to Steve Pederson last week. That should please Pitt fans, who also heard their school described as “a destination job” by Chryst last week.
Bielma said Chryst “maximizes players’ strengths and minimizes players’ weaknesses as well as any coach I have ever been around.”
“He doesn’t try to pound a round peg in a square hole,” he said.
So, if you’re, say, a Pitt quarterback and you’ve run a certain type of offense throughout high school and college, Chryst is not coming into town to try to turn you into something you’re not. That has to be a relief to quarterbacks named Sal Sunseri and Mark Myers.
Bielma used to employ Chryst as a closer in recruiting, someone to come into a player’s living room to seal the deal. He trusted Chryst with that responsibility because his laid-back personality is a comfort to parents, Bielma said. Chryst also recruited quarterbacks nationally for Wisconsin.
Everything we’ve heard about Chryst has been positive since Pitt hired him last week. We also heard positive reaction about Todd Graham and Michael Haywood on the days they were hired. So the odds are in Steve Pederson’s favor.
I really don’t think he can be wrong three times in a row.