Wisconsin Coaching Hot Board 2.0

Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst appears to be the major front runner for Wisconsin's head coaching vacancy, but UW athletic director Barry Alvarez plans to interview at least two other candidates. BadgerNation updates the coaching hot board.

MADISON - Decision day for Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will likely come next week.

Having a waiver request granted that will allow the school to fill the head coaching vacancy in five business days instead of the usual two week waiting period, Alvarez can fill the vacancy after 4:30 p.m. on Dec.17, since the weekend is not considered business days. UW can announce the hire Wednesday and introduce him after the deadline Thursday.

It’s a change from what Alvarez went through two years ago, needing the two weeks to interview and identify candidates before hiring now-departed head coach Gary Andersen, who was introduced as the new Oregon State coach Friday afternoon, to fill the role after Bret Bielema left for Arkansas.

Meeting with the Wisconsin athletic board Friday in a prescheduled meeting, Alvarez outlined the process of hiring a coach and a salary range, but not identifying specific targets, in a closed session.

In reality, a specific target has already been identified, and a deal already appears ready to be announced late next week.

Paul Chryst

After not being considering for the opening two years ago because of the timing, Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst appears to be ready to come back to Wisconsin and take the head coaching position, BadgerNation reported late Thursday night.

The timetable has moved quickly, starting Wednesday when a senior associate athletic director reached out to Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson to get permission to speak to Chryst.

According to a BadgerNation source, Chryst and Alvarez met in Tampa Thursday afternoon. Alvarez was at a contract signing for the Outback Bowl, while Chryst was in the state recruiting. Both returned back to their respective campuses Thursday night.

Other BadgerNation sources indicated that Chryst spent Friday meeting with the school’s chancellor before meeting with his players before their first bowl practice. During the meeting, BadgerNation learned that Chryst neither confirmed he was leaving or staying and asked players to decline comment on the situation.

Chryst declined to speak to reporters after practice but has already apparently put out feelers to potential coaches about joining him at Wisconsin, according to Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that Chryst has indicated he would accept the head coaching position with the Badgers, but Panthers athletic director Steve Pederson told the paper Friday evening that Chryst has not told him he will take the Badgers job if offered.

Pedersen believes Pitt can keep Chryst but understands his plight.

“This is his alma mater,” Pederson told the paper. “You could understand why that would give him pause to think a little bit. I can’t blame him for that. I don’t think most people would blame him for that.”

Multiple outlets, including BadgerNation, believe it’s a foregone conclusion Chryst will get offered the job and accept.

Raised in Madison, Chryst was the quarterback of the Badgers in the late '80s, was the tight ends coach of the Badgers in 2002 and was the offensive coordinator from 2005-11 before becoming the head coach at Pitt in 2012.

Chryst earned acclaim as one of college football's finest teachers and strategists, as UW compiled a 60-19 record (.759) during his six seasons solely overseeing the offense, which annually ranked among the best in the country.

In 2011, Chryst helped Wisconsin to an 11-3 record and its second consecutive Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth. The Badgers featured a prolific offense that set no fewer than a dozen school records, including points per game (44.1 avg.), total offense per game (469.9 avg.), total rushing yards (3,298) and total passing yards (3,280).

During his final three seasons at Wisconsin, the Badgers achieved the Big Ten's best record (32-8, .800) while averaging 39.2 points per game during that span. Chryst also coached the UW quarterbacks and was named a finalist for the prestigious Broyles Award, annually presented to college football's top assistant, each of his final two seasons.

In three rebuilding seasons at Pittsburgh, Chryst is 19-19, including a 6-6 mark this season and a third straight bowl appearance. Pittsburgh plays Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, against Houston.

Chryst wasn’t considered for the Wisconsin head coaching vacancy two years ago because of the amount of recommendations and lobbying Alvarez did on Chryst’s behalf to try and get him the Pittsburgh job in 2011. Alvarez said at the time he didn’t feel it was right to bring him to Madison after just one year with the Panthers.

Assistants Update

Alvarez said Friday he knows Andersen has already offered some current Wisconsin assistants jobs at Oregon State, though he declined to identify which ones. Alvarez said the current staff have indicated they want to stay through the bowl game.

During his introductory press conference, Andersen told reporters he was confident several assistants will be joining him and that an announcement could come early next week.

"Hopefully first of next week or early next week we'll have the opportunity to start throwing some names out there of guys that are in for sure," Andersen said. "There's obviously guys who I feel very good are going to come here."

Andersen brought three assistants with him from Utah State when he took the Wisconsin job; defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, offensive line coach T.J. Woods and safeties coach Bill Busch. He also brought defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a from Utah, who he had worked with previously.

It’s assumed that Kauha’aha’a and Woods would join Andersen in Corvallis along with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who Andersen hired from San Diego State.

Aranda has worked for Andersen for three years and Busch has been with Andersen at four different coaching stops, but both appear comfortable with their current positions at Wisconsin. Since Wednesday, Busch has reeled in a commitment from Dallas South Oak Cliff four-star tailback Jordan Stevenson and Alvarez has come out in support of Aranda as a defensive coordinator.

Greg Schiano

Alvarez indicated that he expects to conduct two more interviews for Wisconsin’s head coaching vacancy, and USA Today reported that former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was one of them, saying the two discussed the job Thursday.

Schiano took over a struggling program at Rutgers and turned it into a Big East contender during an 11-year run. He went 68-67 in 11 seasons with the Scarlet Knights, but went 56-33 in the last seven seasons, with winning records in six. He also went 5-1 in bowl games during that winning streak.

He made the jump to the NFL with Tampa Bay in 2012 but didn’t find the same level of success. Schiano was 11-21 before being fired in 2013 and reportedly has interest to get back into college coaching.

Schiano played linebacker at Bucknell and got his first big opportunity in coaching when he was hired to coach defensive backs at Penn State in 1991. He also spent three seasons with the Chicago Bears and one with the Miami Dolphins as their defensive coordinator until being hired to coach Rutgers in 2001.

According to Dohn, Schiano’s biggest strength is his ability to lead. He's detail-oriented, sometimes to a fault, as he was known for sweating the really small stuff, but he can inspire and is a good defensive coach. He is tough-nosed and wants to win by running the ball and controlling the clock. He is intense and does not tolerate mental mistakes within games, and has no problem letting a player know when he messed up. He is also a father-figure to many and will congratulate and hug his players after big plays.

When it comes to recruiting, Schiano is a big hit with the parents, particularly the moms. He stresses discipline, education and a family-oriented program. In fact, before it was in vogue, he used the F.A.M.I.L.Y. – Forget About Me, I Love You – moniker in recruiting. When he gets into a home, he is very good in closing deals. Even when Schiano wasn’t getting the big-name kids in New Jersey, he was able to get everyone to visit campus– no small feat in New Jersey – and kids felt bad about calling him to say they were going elsewhere.

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