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Paul Chryst Introduced As New Pitt Coach

As Paul Chryst was introduced as Pitt's new head football coach on Thursday in a press conference at the Panthers' South Side practice facility, he didn't waste any time giving a nod to the program's history.

"There is unbeliveable tradition here," the former Wisconsin offensive coordinator said. "When this opportunity presented itself, I wanted to be a part of this. I wanted to be a part of the tradition of Pitt football."

He also didn't waste any time getting down to business.

Athletic director Steve Pederson said Chryst and his family arrived in Pittsburgh from Madison at roughly 9:45 on Wednesday morning. They proceeded to head straight to the South Side, where Chryst met with his new players for the first time at their final practice before Christmas ahead of their BBVA Compass Bowl matchup with Southern Methodist on Jan. 7 in Birmingham.

Afterward, Chryst met with the local media and stressed the importance of that first visit with his new team. 

"I'm not here alone," Chryst said. "It's not something that I have done. It's a group of people. That's why today, it meant more to me that we come off the plane and the first thing we do is go and talk to the players, because that is what really energizes me. That is what we are in this thing for. We are football coaches and you can't coach if you don't have players."

The South Side stage was set for Chryst just over a week after former Pitt coach Todd Graham left his position after less than a year to take the same position at Arizona State, citing his family as the reason for the move.

In his initial comments, Chryst acknowledged the instability brought upon the program by the move but indicated he'll seek to help move the program past it.

"It's a tough time, flat out, that's what it is," Chryst said. "But yet, there's a lot [the players] can focus on. They've got a great opportunity. There's a lot of teams that aren't playing in bowl games. There's a group of seniors...they should be sent out the right way." 

The new Pitt coach won't be in the mix immediately, though.

Pederson said he and Chryst agreed that Chryst will coach his Badgers one last time when they face Oregon in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2. After that, he'll accompany the Panthers to the bowl game and take over the program for good afterward.

"That was certainly significant to him and significant to me and everyone that plays for him, everyone who's ever played for him and everyone who is going to play for him," Pederson said. "He wants to see his kids through to the end and that was a significant part of all of our discussion is how you treat people and how you treat young people and the program."

And for a program hiring its third new head coach in just over a year, maybe that's the perfect foot on which to start a new era of Pitt football.

"There was never a question in our mind that that was the right thing to do," Pederson said. "We're all going to enjoy watching him coach and we're all going to be big Badger fans that night. "On Wisconsin" maybe?"

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.