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Calling Paul Chryst a bust only two games into his coaching career is misguided.
It's a bit of a shame that only two games into a head coaching career, there are calls for a coach to step down. But such is life in college football.
There aren't many, but if you read around the blogs and message boards, there are fans who aren't thrilled with new Pitt head coach Paul Chryst. Chryst, in case you've missed it, has led his team to an 0-2 start, losing to Youngstown State at home and Cincinnati on the road so far. Even worse than the record is that the Panthers have looked flat-out abysmal at times.
When it comes to evaluating the job that Chryst has done, there's little doubt that there's room for improvement. Pitt lacked discipline in the Bearcats game when the team picked up a couple of silly penalties, the play calling hasn't been great, and the defense has looked downright lost in both games. Head coaching has a part in all of those things and it's up to Chryst to get it turned around.
All of that said, there's no way that he should be feeling any pressure at this point. In a business where it's generally understood that coaches need at least three seasons to be truly evaluated, calling him a bust two games into his first year is off-base.
For starters, Chryst is a first-year head coach. While he's been a coordinator before, this is his first time calling all of the shots for an entire program. There's bound to be a learning curve. And in addition to of the gameday duties, Chryst is also trying to juggle things like recruiting, disciplining players, and making sure their academics are in line. Every coach has to do this, of course, but since Chryst hasn't done it before, it's all a bit different for him.
Then there's the personnel issue. Pitt has NFL talent on both sides of the ball, so it's not a matter of having completely unskilled players. But Chryst is relying on a lot of freshmen and sophomores to fill key roles, and like Chryst, those players are just learning the ropes. He's also dealing with a bit of a mix of personnel, having players recruited by Dave Wannstedt, Todd Graham, and himself. In particular, some of the players recruited for Todd Graham's high-tempo system aren't the same guys he would have brought in.
And if Pitt fans need any further proof that Chryst can still have some success, they need only look to Dave Wannstedt. Wannstedt started his Pitt career 0-3 and lost to the Ohio Bobcats in that stretch. He never got Pitt to the BCS, but he did have some good years at Pitt, leading them to 26 victories in his last three seasons with the school.
Okay, so what if Chryst isn't ready to be a head coach? What if he's simply not good enough right now? The fact is that just like freshmen coming to college, he needs time to learn along the way and grow a bit. If his teams don't progress at all at the end of 2013, we can talk. But right now, we simply can't judge Chryst based on two poor games.
For more on Pitt football, check out SB Nation's Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.