Paul Chryst will soon get the distinction of being Pitt's first head coach as a member of the ACC. The first thing, is just the reality of soon joining a new conference.
"We just need to deal with reality, not perception," Chryst said.
Much as it ties in with recruiting, comes a certain style of play. For example, Chryst comes from Wisconsin, simply known for playing Big Ten football in the Big Ten conference. Perception of the Big Ten Conference is of a strong running game with dominant offensive linemen.
So, when Pitt joins the ACC, how will they live up to that ACC label? Furthermore, what does it really mean to be an ACC team, or have an ACC-style? Does it mean averaging over 30 points a game as Clemson and Florida State did this past season in conference games? Or, is it having dual-threat quarterbacks like Clemson's Tajh Boyd?
Chryst dispels that notion, that you have to adjust your style of play based on a conference's reputation.
"I don't think philosophy in the sense that, being able to run the ball, being able to run the ball on third down, the red zone-- you can go broad stroke philosophy, no different," Chryst said. "It matters philosophically what we did from the PAC-10 to the Big Ten (while at Wisconsin). The core principles is the real philosophy. Schemes didn't change how you did it, adjusted to who we had personnel-wise.
"That's why I struggle with that a little bit in a sense. I think those really are broad generalizations as far as conferences. You always take your opponents; who are they and what do we have to do to beat them? You get a feel for teams as you play them, especially a couple years, and then I think things evolve. I don't think your core philosophies change because of your conference."
One area that Chryst will hopefully have a chance is at winning an ACC conference championship, in a conference championship game. He has experience in that area. This past season, Wisconsin lost to Michigan State on a Hailmary in the regular season. The Badgers responded with a thrilling win in the inaugural conference championship game over the Spartans. Chryst went from coaching in the Big Ten regular season, winning the conference crown in the regular season in 2010. He then went to winning a conference championship in the conference championship game in 2011. He now goes back to having to win the conference in the regular season this year in the Big East. He could be faced with the challenge of winning an ACC conference championship game—of course getting there first—as soon as 2013.
Though he likes that challenge, he feels the conference championship game doesn't alter schemes or philosophies either.
"It was new, but it didn't change," Chryst said. "Reflecting back on it, the conferences and the championships in the bigger conferences, it is different. You're not playing some teams. It's not as pure of a conference championship as it used to be in my opinion. When you play a team, and what the state of the health of your team, it's different. That part has changed, but the game is still the game."