Updated: Chryst Takes the Next Step

After eight seasons and two stints at Wisconsin, the Badgers couldn't hold on to offensive coordinator Paul Chryst any longer, as he has accepted the head coaching job at Pittsburgh

MADISON - Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst will leave his position at the University of Wisconsin and accept the head coaching job at Pittsburgh.

It will be Chryst's first head coaching opportunity and is expected to be introduced at 2 p.m. central today, which is an off day for Wisconsin. It is unclear whether Chryst will stay to coach the Rose Bowl on January 2.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Coach Chryst and his family to Pittsburgh," Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson said in a statement. "His remarkable success at Wisconsin is well documented in the form of Big Ten championships and All-America performances. But beyond his achievements on the football field, we believed it was important to find a leader who gets the very best from his players while also developing the kind of culture that fits the University of Pittsburgh. Paul Chryst is that leader and we are anxious for our players and fans to get to know him in the coming days and years."

Chryst interviewed with Pederson on Saturday and Pitt sources said he was viewed as a better long-term fit than the other candidates, a huge area of importance considering he'll be the Panthers fourth head coach in the past 13 months.

"My family and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to join the University of Pittsburgh," Chryst said in a statement. "Pitt and Pittsburgh are absolutely the right fit for us, and we're looking forward to getting immersed in our new hometown. We are committed to building a program on and off the field that will make people proud. The bar is set high in the `City of Champions' and that is incredibly exciting and inspiring. I can't wait to meet our players and get to work."

Chryst, who also interviewed for head coaching vacancies at Illinois and Kansas this offseason, will replace Todd Graham, who resigned suddenly Dec. 13 to take the same position at Arizona State.

Pederson also spoke with Florida International's Mario Cristobal and Ohio State interim coach Luke Fickell. Sources indicate that negotiations with Cristobal broke down when it was believed the FIU coach wouldn't be a long-term fit at the school. FIU lost to underdog Marshall, 20-10, in the Beef O' Brady's Bowl Tuesday.

Furthermore, Chryst received ringing endorsements from UW athletic director Barry Alvarez and UW basketball coach and fellow Platteville native Bo Ryan, as well as many prominent Pitt boosters that he was the right candidate for the job.

A Wisconsin native and graduate of the university, Chryst, 46, is in his second stint as an assistant at UW (2002 and 2005-'11) and has been an assistant coach at various levels, including the NFL, since beginning his coaching job as a graduate assistant at West Virginia in 1989.

Chryst leaving is huge for Wisconsin on a number of fronts.

Calling an offense that finished fifth in scoring nationally last season at 41.5 points per game, breaking the school record of 34.3 points per game that was set in 2005, Chryst reportedly turned down a lucrative seven figure offer to become the offensive coordinator at Texas last season. He also interviewed for the head coaching job at Pittsburgh and Minnesota.

This season, Wisconsin won a second consecutive conference championship and a trip back to the Rose Bowl after scoring 44.2 points per game, getting a boost because of the chemistry between Chryst and senior quarterback Russell Wilson, who is on pace to break UW records with his passing efficiency (191.6 rating) and completion rate (72.5 percent).

In addition to helping bring Wilson to campus, Chryst has been responsible for recruiting backup quarterback Joe Brennan and four-star Bart Houston, who is scheduled to sign with the Badgers in February.

There's also the possibly of Chryst taking some UW coaches with him, namely offensive line coach Bob Bostad, who is the only other coach, besides Chryst, still at UW from Bielema's first staff, tight end coach and recruiting coordinator Joe Rudolph, a Pennsylvania native in his fourth season at UW, and Charlie Partridge, who has been at UW for four seasons and was promoted to associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach following the Rose Bowl.

Partridge was an assistant at Pittsburgh for five years, coaching the defensive line for his first four seasons there before switching to linebackers in 2007. He had special teams coaching responsibilities for the last three seasons, including the last two as special teams coordinator for the Panthers.

Coach Bret Bielema indicated previously that Chryst could still coach in the Rose Bowl, the same policy he followed last season when defensive coordinator Dave Doeren was with the Badgers through Pasadena even though he was coach-in-waiting at Northern Illinois.

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