Alvarez comfortable with co-coordinators

Paul Chryst and Brian White will have "clearly defined" roles but some details are to be determined

MADISON – As soon as it was announced last week that Paul Chryst had been hired as the University of Wisconsin football team's new tight ends coach and co-offensive coordinator, a barrage of questions leapt to the foreground of Badger fans' minds. Principally, what exactly will be the job description for Chryst and co-coordinator Brian White?

Wednesday afternoon, in their first public comments since Chryst's hiring, UW head coach Barry Alvarez and Chryst laid out a partial map of the Wisconsin coaching staff with Chryst on board.

In addition to his duties as tight ends coach and co-offensive coordinator, Chryst will serve as the Badgers' passing game coordinator, overseeing all aspects of that part of the offense, though UW will not have a designated running game coordinator.

Alvarez made it clear that in order to lure Chryst, a Madison native and former UW player and coach, from the offensive coordinator job he left at Oregon State, he had to grant him a "supervisory" position at UW.

Alvarez also said he did not have any reservations adding a co-offensive coordinator to a mix that includes many long-time assistant coaches.

The important thing, Alvarez said was "that I do a good job of explaining roles and making sure everyone understands it… And then the coaches accept that."

"It's not about titles," Alvarez said. "It's about people accepting roles."

Key details, though, still remain to be formally delineated:

Who calls the plays?

Alvarez said he had not determined who will call plays, but that the role will be "clearly defined."

Said Alvarez: "The play calling thing – I haven't even sat down and talked about who's going to sit in the [coaches'] box and who is going to be on the field yet."

Though play calling is obviously a crucial aspect of an offensive coordinator's duties, Chryst and Alvarez downplayed the importance of defining that aspect of the job description now.

"If you work well with people and if you are on the same [page], you take input from everyone," Chryst said. "Someone has to have the final say. It's really not as big a thing as a lot of people make it out to be."

What role will Chryst have coaching quarterbacks?

Chryst also left a quarterbacks coaching job back in Corvallis, Ore., but UW quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton will remain in that position. Still, as passing game coordinator, Chryst, who coached tight ends at UW in 2002, will have a role overseeing quarterbacks and receivers.

"I think you'll have dialogue with [the quarterbacks] certainly," Chryst said. "In the passing game obviously the quarterback is a major, major role in it. I don't think I picture it as coaching the quarterbacks as much as just making sure everyone's understanding whatever we're doing."

Will Chryst bring more flair to the passing game?

It is assumed that Chryst, who led the NCAA's seventh-ranked passing offense last year, will bring a more diverse passing game to Madison. Asked if his hiring would bring a departure from the Badgers' running ways, Chryst demurred.

"Each team has a formula," he said. "I think that each year that formula is kind of defined by who that group is. Every year it's a new team. I think you find different ways and use your personnel accordingly."

To some degree the move to bring in Chryst diminishes the role of White, who has served as the Badgers' running backs coach for the past 10 seasons and offensive coordinator for the past six. White interviewed for the Dallas Cowboys running backs coaching job Monday; the Cowboys hired Maurice Carthon Wednesday.

Alvarez, though, said Chryst's hiring was "absolutely not" a demotion for White.

What played into the equation, Alvarez said, was the opportunity to add "a very bright offensive mind that I knew would fit in with our staff that I thought would be excited about coming home."

What is clear is that Alvarez wanted Chryst enough to juggle his coaching staff to make UW's vacant position—the tight ends job Rob Ianello held before departing for Notre Dame in January—more desirable.

"I wanted Paul Chryst to be back on this staff," Alvarez said. "He left here for professional reasons. He left here to be an offensive coordinator in the Pac 10. He comes back being a coordinator in the Big Ten. He still has a supervisory role and a decision-making role and that's what I had to do to get him back here."

"This is a special place," said Chryst, who lettered at UW from 1986-88. "And that's why it was hard for me to leave here the first time even though professionally it was something that was viewed as a no-brainer."

Chryst also had to carefully consider leaving behind his mentor, OSU head coach Mike Riley, who he also coached for with the NFL's San Diego Chargers (1999-2001), the San Antonio Riders of the World League (1991-92) and in a previous stint at Oregon State (1997-98).

"[Riley] knew that it was special; that I had a good year when I was here," Chryst said. "He's got a lot of respect for Coach Alvarez."

Sinz named recruiting coordinator

Jeremy Sinz, Wisconsin's director of football operations, is replacing Ianello as recruiting coordinator, Alvarez said Wednesday. Sinz served as UW's recruiting coordinator during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Chryst will recruit the Chicagoland area, which he said he recruited a little as an assistant with Illinois State in 1995. Co-linebackers coach Brian Murphy will continue to recruit in-state prospects but will add Minnesota to his portfolio, subtracting northern Chicago.

On national letter of intent signing day two weeks ago, Alvarez said that he wanted the Badgers' to focus their recruiting efforts closer to home. That became more clear Wednesday, when he said that UW will not replace Ianello's presence in Texas, leaving Horton to patrol that state.

In addition to Chicago and Minnesota, Alvarez said he wanted more of a focus in Ohio, where the Badgers have landed players such as Lee Evans and Chris Chambers.

"I just want an emphasis close by first, want areas where we've been successful," Alvarez said.


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