It's turned out to be a busy offseason for Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst, who has had to make a few coaching changes within his own staff.
A week before the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, it was announced that strength coach Todd Rice would not return. Early last month, Ross Kolodziej was named to the post.
Last week, receivers coach Bobby Engram left to take the same position with the Baltimore Ravens.
On Thursday, Chryst hired Iowa State's Troy Douglas as secondary coach. Matt House, who served as defensive coordinator and secondary coach this past season, will now coach the linebackers alongside his coordinator duties.
Additionally, Chris Haering, who will stay on coaching the linebackers, will tack on special teams coordinator to his duties. Desmond Robinson, who coached the running backs in 2012, served as player personnel director in 2013, will not return.
Friday, Chryst appointed John Settle as running backs coach, yet also announcing that quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger is leaving the program to pursue non-coaching opportunities. Chryst said in the case of Bollinger, it wasn't a matter of burnout, and more a matter of Bollinger just wanting to move back to Minnesota, and pursue something else.
"Brooks, after Signing Day, we had been talking before recruiting, he had been thinking about moving back to Minnesota," Chryst said. "Kind of what he's wanting long-term. I've talked about this with him for five years, six years. But there's a part of him that's wants to be a part of a community. It's hard to do it as a coach. I think he's wanting to make that their home, and be there forever. It's not something that just came up. He truly did add a ton. He helped us here. It's hard not to be happy for him."
Chryst was more than enthusiastic in talking about Settle, who coached with him at Wisconsin from 2006-10. In Settle's final year with the Badgers in 2010, before moving on to the Carolina Panthers for two years, and then the Cleveland Browns this past season, Wisconsin running backs nearly had three 1,000-yard seasons (James White -1,052 yards, John Clay -1,012 and Montee Ball - 996).
Chryst didn't predict he would have the same exact success at Pitt, as the Panthers return Isaac Bennett and James Conner, along with 2014 signees Chris James, Qadree Ollison and Dennis Briggs. He is excited about the impact Settle can have on this group.
"He's been around a lot of good running backs," Chryst said. "He truly knows and can communicate that knowledge, all aspects, the little things, details, playing running back, that I think is still, he's kind of a good balance, enough knowledge, different ways to teach it, remembers what it's like to be a player as well. I'm excited for our players to get to know him. Our players are in a state of mind where they're eager to learn. He's a really good, knowledgable person."
Chryst will take over coaching the quarterbacks. Joe Rudolph, offensive coordinator, coached running bacs and tight ends this past year. Now, he will only be responsible for tight ends.
"I've done that before," Chryst said. "Without shortchanging anyone, we're just trying to utilize everyone's strengths."
He also cited Haering's additional role as special teams coach as an example of that.
"Special teams is an area we have to improve," Chryst added. "And to have one guy focus on that, Chris Haering is going to help with that."
As for Kolodziej, Chryst says he's already received some good feedback.
"Our kids are really good and productive offseason," Chryst said. "Big Ross and Brian [Calhoun] have a great sense of our guys and where they need to be. Right now, there's a good energy in the weight room. I'm really happy with it."