When it comes to resumes, Paul Chyrst has a laundry list of players who have produce under his tutelage. This past year, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball being invited to New York as Heisman finalists is just a blip on the radar screen, of some of the players who have produced.
Chryst began his coaching career in 1989 as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin. He then went off to the World League, where he was an assistant for the San Antonio Riders from 1991-92. He went back Wisconsin-Platteville for the 1993 season, before going to the Ottawa Rough Riders for the 1994 season. He returned to the college ranks in 1995, spending one season at Illinois State. He went to the Sascatchewan Rough Riders for two seasons, then to Oregon State for two seasons.
After bouncing around at several stops, it was in 1999 when Chryst's resume took the biggest turn.
He moved on to the NFL, where he spent three seasons as tight ends coach for the San Diego Chargers under then head coach Mike Riley, whom he had coached under at Oregon State. Though Riley only went 14-34 in his three seasons with the Chargers, Chryst had a strong record in developing tight ends. He had Freddie Jones as one of his players during that time. In those three seasons, Jones caught 162 passes for 1,824 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jones' best year was 2000, when he caught 71 passes for 766 yards (10.8 avg) and five touchdowns. Chryst also had Steve Heiden as a reserve tight end with the Chargers. Heiden went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL, including eight with the Cleveland Browns. Heiden had a career-high 43 receptions for 401 yards and three touchdowns in 2005. He retired after the 2009 season.
After those three seasons in San Diego, Chryst returned to the college ranks where he went back to his alma mater, Wisconsin, serving as tight ends coach in 2002. He went back west to Oregon State for two more years as offensive coordinator. While he showed his prowess as a tight ends coach with the Chargers, these two seasons at Oregon State was his first big step as a coordinator. He had three players who were among the most productive on college football, including one who went on to be a first-round draft pick in the NFL. His 2003 offense included quarterback Derek Anderson and running back Steven Jackson—who was that first-round pick. The 2003 Beaver offense ranked 10th in total offense, averaging 463 yards a game. It also marked the first offense to finish with a 4,000-yard passer (Anderson), a 1,500-yard rusher (Jackson) and two 1,000-yard receivers.
"First of all, he has a good grasp of offensive football," Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said. "He had been our offensive coordinator at Oregon State, and he coached tight ends and running backs. "He was always very involved, always pays attention to detail. Football coaches have to prepare people to play in games. Those parts, Paul was great it. He is very prepared to (gameplan). Paul was the best example of that."
Chryst returned to Wisconsin again, where he has been the offensive coordinator since 2005. He wasted little time making an impact in that role. His 2005 offense set school records in points per game (34.3). His 2006 offense was key in a 12-1 record.
Based on that ability to have all facets of the offense clicking, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Russell Wilson completed 72.5 percent of his passes, threw for 2,879 yards and 31 touchdowns. Wilson was the first-team All-Big Ten selection at quarterback. Then there was running back Montee Ball, who despite Wilson's aerial attack, still had opportunity to rush for 1,759 yards and 32 touchdowns. Ball rushed for at least two touchdowns in 11 of 13 games this year. He rushed for at least three touchdowns in six games this season. If that wasn't enough, Wilson still found time to rush for another 320 yards and five scores.
Not only have Chryst's offenses been balanced in the passing and rushing games, his players have put up numbers with authority.
"Wisconsin's offensive is explosive because Chryst has the ability to tailor his schemes to the strengths of the quarterback," BadgerNation publisher Ben Worgull said.
His offenses have also put up points in late-game situations. Though the Badgers lost a key regular season game at Michigan State, Wisconsin's offense scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. One came on a three-play, 43-second drive. The other looked to give the Badgers the win; an eight-play drive that lasted three minutes.
The Badgers' offense showed the same ability the following week at Ohio State. The Badgers had to score two fourth quarter touchdowns. They did so on a pair of four-play drives—one that lasted 51 seconds, and another that lasted 1:18.
Though Wisconsin couldn't hold on to win those two games, the ability to play under pressure paid off, as they beat Michigan State in the first ever Big Ten championship game, 42-39. In that game, the Wisconsin offense threw for 219, and ran for another 126. Ball scored the go-ahead touchdown with just under four minutes left in the game.
"Whether the Badgers have a pocket passer like Scott Tolzien or a dual threat like Russell Wilson, the offense still puts up over 40 points per game and averaged 200 yards on the ground or through the air. No matter the mode," Worgull added. "UW's offense continues to click when Chryst has smart players he can rely on."