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UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 17, 2014
BARRY ALVAREZ:¬† We have terrific people on our campus that are dedicated to support our student‑athletes academically, athletically and socially.¬† I interviewed or was contacted by a number of well‑known head coaches as well as high‑ranking assistant football coaches about this job.¬† That only confirmed to me what I already knew, and that was the head football coaching position at Wisconsin would be highly sought after and a highly coveted one.
The first person I thought of when Gary Andersen informed me that he was leaving was Paul Chryst.¬† Paul has worked with me in the past.¬† I have a great respect for him as both a football coach and a person.¬† He and his family will be great fits for our university and our community.¬† I'm thrilled to welcome the entire Chryst family to come back to Madison, come back home, and formally introduce Paul Chryst as our new head football coach at the University of Wisconsin.
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Well, obviously, this is a big moment, and couldn't be more grateful and honored and certainly appreciative of such an opportunity.¬† And yet I know that this journey to get to this point, didn't do it alone.¬† Without the help, the support, the work, you know, efforts of so many, that's what's allowed me to be here today and for that we'll always be grateful.¬† It's humbling when you see friends and people you've gone through and been through hard times and good times appreciate it.¬† But wouldn't have been able to do this without my mom and dad, and family and what they've done.
My wife Robin, Katie, Jojo, Danny, you guys mean the world to me, and thanks for going on this journey together and couldn't be more happy than to do it with you guys.¬† Truly am fortunate.¬† The football and the coaches that I've been able to work with, learn from, so many that help you and helped me to be who I am, most of all from the football, are the players.¬† So many players have been a part of me and helping me to get to something like this, and that is something that you can't say thank you enough to that group of guys.
To be able to do this and come back home to Wisconsin, it truly is special.¬† I think what's special is everyone talks about we know and we're proud of Wisconsin and we're proud of Madison, and certainly proud of the place.¬† But I think what we're most proud of is the people.¬† For us to be able to do that in Madison with the people who care and love you, it truly is special.
It kind of dawned on me, my son Danny was applying to colleges and we were filling out his application for Wisconsin.¬† One of the questions is why do you want to come to Wisconsin, and as we were going through it, it dawned on me that there was a spirit that is undeniable here.¬† For us to be a part of that is something that you truly don't take for granted and couldn't be more fortunate.¬† Certainly want to thank Chancellor Blank for this opportunity and Coach Alvarez for three times being able to come back.
Every time I came back there was a pull to learn and to see‑‑ when I went to Wisconsin, it was different than what coach and the players, what they've accomplished.¬† And I wanted to be a part of that, and to be able to learn and grow and really earn an opportunity to continue to grow somewhere else, but then to be able to come back and continue to grow and learn.
Then leave, and to be able to come back, Coach, I appreciate that more than you know.¬† The lessons that I've learned and hope to continue to learn and to go through this with you, it means a ton to me.
As fortunate as I am and as excited as I am about this opportunity, I also want to thank the administration, Chancellor who gave me a chance at the University Pittsburgh, and Chancellor Nordenberg, Pat Gallagher.¬† And as much as I want to say an easy decision this was to have the opportunity to come back, it was also hard because of the players at the University of Pittsburgh.¬† That's why we do this.¬† They will always be special, and yet it was pretty neat how they understood.¬† You knew you had the right kind of guys, because they were, I think also understood and excited for me.
One player texted and said you always talk about opportunity, coach and what a great opportunity.¬† Couldn't be happier for you.¬† That's pretty special.
It dawned on me.¬† We were staying at Hotel Red, which finally got completed, and was looking out right over at JR Productions.¬† But it was looking out at the stadium, and I remember being a paperboy and delivering six papers to the stadium.¬† I had one of my worst wipeouts on my bike.¬† I hit the railroad tracks the wrong way, and went down and went to heal myself at the donut shop right down the road.¬† Jimmy Roach had won bingo, so he didn't join me that day.
Then I went and I was at the stadium and looked out.¬† We were taking some pictures, and I remember as a kid sneaking in and playing on the field.¬† Part of the Chryst family project was helping others clean up the stadium on Sunday after the games, and thought, wow, this is a pretty special day.
Then Coach Alvarez took me through the facilities, and when you see the pictures of the greats, and the great moments and the greats and players you remembered as a kid and kind of looked up to, and players that I've played with and went through as a student‑athlete here, then also to see so many players that you had a part in helping coach them and be a part of their career, it truly kind of hit me of how lucky I am.¬† As great a day as today is, and it is, it's a great day, I also don't want it to be the best day.¬† That's where I'm proud and looking forward to going to work and being with this group of players as we add on players to this and to truly do something special with a group of men, something that those players can be proud of, something the University can be proud of, the city can be proud of and the State can be proud of.
So very appreciative, as I said, and honored for this opportunity, and with that comes a great motivation and a push to make sure that we do the best we can, like I said, to make the players, the University, and the State proud.¬† Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:¬† We can take questions for either Coach Alvarez or Coach Chryst.¬† We have microphones on each side.
Q.¬† Paul, when you left here to go to the University of Pittsburgh, how confident were you that this day might happen that you could return home?¬† Did it change at all a couple years ago when Gary Andersen was hired here?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I'm lucky to be doing what I do in coaching football and have always felt that and believed that.¬† I loved every moment.¬† We got to go to our first bowl as a family here, and you get a chance to learn and grow, and opportunity came like it did, and I don't think that way.¬† There are so many things and timing and so many factors.¬† So it was really never tried to overthink all of that, but couldn't feel more fortunate to certainly be here today.
Q.¬† Is this a destination job for you?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† You know, I think that when you're talking about destination job, I think you've got to earn the right to stay that long where people qualify it.¬† Certainly there are two great examples.
Coach Alvarez, I think what Bo is doing right now with hoops, they've earned the right to make it a destination job, and I sure hope to work to try to make it that.¬† But you've got to earn it, I believe.
Q.¬† I'm guessing a .500 record wasn't what you had hoped for at Pitt.¬† But what did you learn there about the head coaching business?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, kind of twofold.¬† We talk about that with the players all the time.¬† Proud of what we're doing and working on.¬† We weren't where we wanted to be by the record.¬† But absolutely proud of what those kids did.¬† You think you learn a ton.¬† I hope that you always‑‑ I always continue to learn and grow.¬† I think that's the best part.¬† We're going to ask our players every day to be the best they can be and to grow as a student, grow as a player, and grow as a person.¬† So there's always lessons, I learned a ton of stuff, and I hope I continue to learn as I go through this here.
Q.¬† Is this your dream job, and if so, why?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† It's really special, kind of for the reasons that I was talking about.¬† I grew up in Madison here and was a part as early as I can remember Badger Football was a part of our life.¬† Then to you leave, left town and I was able to come back as a player.¬† Got a great education and went through it with an unbelievable group of guys that are lifelong friends.¬† Then you go out on your journey and you try to grow.¬† Then to be able to come back more than once, it's pretty special.¬† So I think that, yeah, it feels like when we were flying in, I've flown into Madison a bunch of times.
This certainly felt different.¬† It was pretty neat.¬† When you talk about coming home it kind of resonated when we went to the hotel and in 15 minutes all three kids were gone and they had friends picking them up.¬† I hate it.¬† They're getting older.
Q.¬† Do you think about your father on this day and what he would think of this?¬† And does that make you emotional at all?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Absolutely.¬† Yeah, I think he'd be proud.¬† That was one thing Bo, we talked about.¬† I know it's fun talking about it, but he said what do you think George would say if he walked down the halls and said, "Bo's coaching the basketball team and you're coaching the football team?"¬† I mean, it was pretty neat.¬† But, yeah, I think about him all the time.
Q.¬† Have you gotten a chance to talk to your Pitt players since you accepted this job?¬† What was your message to them?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† That's one thing I've appreciated through this process and it goes fast.¬† Obviously, got the phone call from Coach Alvarez and didn't know any of it was happening, and then had a chance to talk to him and was able to be really candid and up front with him.
It was helpful for me looking back that I was able to talk to Coach Alvarez early so that I could tell the players exactly what was happening.¬† Then we had bowl practice.¬† We had recruiting weekends and same thing with recruits.¬† This is exactly what's happening.¬† That's why I appreciate being able to be‑‑ this is what was happening.¬† And certainly knew when I got the call that I'd be able to come out here and had a chance to talk with them.¬† So I feel like they certainly knew and the best that I could keep them informed.
Q.¬† What have the last five days been like for you?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Busy.¬† Yet when you go through this you know, your mind, it's hard not to get ahead and you're excited and you think about the possibilities, and yet you spend a lot of time doing the job that I had at the time.¬† Honestly, that was energizing.¬† We had, I think, three practices.¬† Like I said, we had a recruiting weekend, made some home visits.¬† Being around that group of guys was energetic, and that also makes it difficult because you appreciate who they are and what they're doing.¬† But it's been certainly busy and yet you can't help but feel really, really fortunate to be in this position.
Q.¬† Barry, we all know what Paul accomplished here as a coordinator, and he's probably never been too far off your radar screen.¬† What have you seen from him as a head coach at Pitt the last three years?
COACH CHRYST:¬† I knew the situation at Pitt going through two head coaches in a month.¬† That coach leaving right after the season.¬† They really were struggling, a struggling program.¬† They needed someone that could come in and stabilize it.¬† I watched very closely from afar how he was building his program.¬† Every head coach that I've ever mentored or anyone that's ever sat behind that desk the first day, it doesn't take three days before they say you didn't tell me all this was going to happen.¬† You can't prepare someone to be a head coach and touch all the bases because there's always going to be a surprise.¬† So the things that Paul has learned and how he's built a team and how he's recruited some of the better players and some of the top players in the ACC, young players that he has, those are all things that resonated to me that he's ready.
If the timing is right and we can get him back here, I knew that you guys all know I keep a short list for coaching positions and that moved him right to the top of the list.
Q.¬† Coach Chryst, I hate to make you look ahead too much, but what do you know about this roster?¬† What do you like about this roster, and have you had a chance to thank Coach Alvarez for Alabama in week one?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I forgot to tell him that.¬† The best part about after really this afternoon, kind of finalizing it.¬† First thing I was able to do was meet with the team.¬† I appreciated coach allowing me to meet with them.¬† Also, that's what you're here for.¬† To be able to see them and certainly a lot of the faces, especially in the front of the room, knew a lot of them.¬† They've grown up.¬† So that's one thing I'm looking forward to these next few weeks is getting to know them.
Also that's I think what matters most is getting to know your team, so I look forward to that.¬† It was great seeing the players.¬† Certainly the ones you don't know, and even the ones you do know. ¬†You look forward to getting to know them and actually have a true, deep relationship with them.
Q.¬† Paul, are you ready to announce anybody on your staff?¬† Along those lines, have you met with Dave or anyone on the current UW staff?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Certainly as you go through it, just got this.¬† I'm looking forward to being able to talk to the coaches tomorrow.¬† Certainly as you go through this you've got a group of guys that I think it was asked earlier about your dream job and this place is special.¬† But another part of really what makes a great job for me is who do you get to do it with and do you have a chance?¬† So I'm looking forward to it.
That's one thing that I think everyone knows here is that Wisconsin is really committed to excellence in a number of ways.¬† I don't feel like I've been gone that long, yet when I went back and coach toured me through the facilities, you think, Geez, a lot has happened in a short period of time.¬† I know that we'll be able to put together a great staff, and a staff of a group of men that certainly are experts in their area, their field.¬† But are great people and that truly buy into wanting to help these young men become the best they can.¬† Certainly in football, but outside of football, and that is every bit, if not more, rewarding than the actual football part.¬† I'm looking forward to putting the group together.¬† But haven't finalized anything certainly.
Q.¬† You said you talked to the team.¬† What was your message to them hearing your first opportunity to speak with them?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Well, I think like anything, you're very appreciative to be standing at the front of the room and want them to know that.¬† Also, I think that I went through that as a player.¬† I mean, change brings uncertainty, but change can also be how we grow.¬† So didn't want to make it all about me either.¬† What's interesting and neat about these bowl games is the season is still going on.
The thing I love about the game of football is what matters is the game is played between the lines and the players are the ones between the lines.¬† For them to enjoy that what they've done and the season they've had, it's impressive me looking at it from a distance.¬† So this is this team's last chance to play together.¬† They will maximize that and enjoy it.¬† It wasn't a long meeting, but it was impressive after meeting.¬† Every kid came up and introduced themselves to me.¬† If I hadn't already known them, I'm excited to get to know this team and it will be fun to watch them.
Q.¬† It's a bit unusual for a coach to be able to come back and run his alma mater.¬† You also get to come back to your hometown.¬† Is there pressure in that?¬† Is there something there that makes this difficult?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† No, there's no pressure (laughing).¬† You shouldn't ask a question you know the answer to.¬† I asked my mom that.¬† I said, mom, are you sure you want us back?¬† You know what though, I do think that that's the most pressure I've ever felt was from within, and if you can look the group of guys that you're coaching and doing it with in the eye, that's a lot.¬† Certainly there is pressure, but I think pressure can also help you and force you to grow and, that, you welcome.
Q.¬† Much has been made about academic standards and impacts on football programs especially here at Wisconsin.¬† The fact that you've been through this as a student and as an assistant coach, do you have any‑‑ are your preconceived notions of that factor different from somebody someone that would come from the outside?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I'm proud to be from Wisconsin and a graduate and having done it with a group of guys, I think that's one of the things that gives Wisconsin, honestly, an edge.¬† That is the quality of guys that you get to do it with.¬† I think when you go out and recruit, you're offering an education.¬† When you can go into that person's home and tell them, and you know it to be true that you're offering a world‑class education, and they also get an opportunity to play, like Coach Alvarez said, this is a tremendous program football‑wise.¬† When those two match‑up, you've got a lot to offer, and I think recruiting is about finding the fit.¬† Those that value the education and value the program and what it stands for and being a part of that, I think you've got a lot to work with.
Q.¬† Coach Alvarez, how much did you want to make sure that this was a hire that could sort of stabilize this program and be the third coach in four years, but have this one stick?
BARRY ALVAREZ:¬† As I said, the fact that so many established head coaches contacted me regarding this job, told me that this was a job that was a plum for guys.¬† This was a job that a lot of people looked at and thought I'd like to end up there.¬† I'd like to live there.¬† I'd like to recruit to that.¬† You're looking at a school that was in the last 20 years at a football program probably as consistent as anyone maybe in the country.
So, I had a lot of choices.¬† I've always said fit is very important.¬† I don't know where you can find a better fit and qualified person than Paul and his family.¬† When I've hired people I've always thought this is a destination job, but people change.¬† People don't always see things the same way or have different visions, and that's okay.¬† That's what makes the world go round.¬† But the interest shown in this job tells me this is a plum.
Q.¬† Paul, could you walk us through how this all unfolded with regards of you being approached, you being offered the job, knowing the challenges of this waiting period that had to take place?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, it was a week ago Wednesday I was recruiting.¬† Came out, it was a nice, quiet day.¬† Went and saw some recruits.¬† It was good.¬† Then looked at my phone and I was going to just check messages, and it looked like‑‑ I thought I actually‑‑ I don't know if I can say butt dialed ‑‑ but butt dialed Barry because it showed up.¬† And I said, Geez, I don't know what to tell him, then kind of did again.¬† He told me that he was going to be looking.¬† There was a change, and he was going to be looking and could we get together?
I was able to see him the next day.¬† And yesterday came out and had a chance to meet with the Chancellor.¬† Then today was offered it, so I think it was good, I think.¬† For me it was good to have that time because I was also able to, like I said, spend some time with the players at Pitt and keep them abreast of the situation, so it's been fast.
Communication, I felt like I knew what coach was saying the whole time.¬† I was able to communicate with our administration, with our players so I think it actually worked out. ¬†Timing‑wise I thought it was helpful to me.
Q.¬† You've played for three coaches in your time here at Wisconsin.¬† How will that time in your life and those experiences help you deal with some of the guys on the roster who can now say the same thing?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, I think what I took away from it is it's reality.¬† Like I said earlier, change‑‑ the initial, I think I have an idea and understanding of what they might be thinking, and it's natural.¬† How is this going to affect me?¬† I think one part of the recruiting process that is good is that you get to outline the things and the values of the program.
So I think that you then need to do a good job of just communicating to them what are the thing that's we're going to value in this program, and it's going to match up because what the University values.
I grew up through this system.¬† Coach Alvarez had a big impact on my philosophy of how to work with what the best way to run a program was, and how do you treat players.¬† So I think it's communicating with them and it's letting them know the steps along the way.¬† That's why I'm looking forward to being around them during the bowl practices and just start to build those relationships that in the end I think are everything.
Q.¬† Were you aware Pittsburgh has made a change in its athletic director?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† No.
Q.¬† Do you have a reaction to that?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† No.
Q.¬† What sort of push did Pitt make to try to keep you on out there?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† There's a lot of people there that care a ton about that place and that program and there was a lot of it.¬† What was really unique about this whole job is that it's so special.¬† I wasn't looking to go anywhere, and yet this was a place that I knew I wanted to talk to coach and explore‑‑ what he brought to me, I absolutely wanted to explore it.¬† There was a ton of people that care a lot about that program.¬† I think those players and people around it, there are some special people there.
Q.¬† Your wife and kids have been with you on a journey all over the place for many years?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† You wonder why after a while.
Q.¬† What was their reaction when you were able to present this to them and said this is out there for me.¬† Would you guys like to go back?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, we had bounced around a lot.¬† I remember Rob and I talking about I think that's why our families, my dad's side of the family has a place in northern Wisconsin.¬† I think that's why the place was special because that was the one constant.¬† So all the places we lived, we had the cabin.
Yet Rob and I were talking about it, and I think it was a couple years ago that Madison really was home.¬† Katie and Jojo were able to graduate from there.¬† That was home for the first time for the kids.¬† I grew up in Madison.¬† I call it home.¬† But the kids have been all over.¬† So I think that there's a natural excitement to it because we value it.¬† Yet I think also when you go through and they've been down enough that you don't want to get too excited.¬† You don't really know what's going to happen.¬† I think you brace yourself for it, and yet I'm also proud of, I think, one of the things that Robin and the kids have done a great job of is wherever we go, they jump in.
And I think that's the way to do it.¬† I think because of that we've had some great experiences.¬† And you get through it and there's not a lot of‑‑ you're talking scenarios, but you don't know what's going to happen.¬† That's where I'm so lucky.¬† I've always felt that we were strong and whatever it would be we were going to make the most of it.¬† This has a lot of big‑ time pull to it, and it certainly makes it‑‑ not that easier is necessarily what you're looking for, but it's natural, and it feels right.
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I should have asked them before I did it.¬† But Katie gave me a thumbs up.¬† Thanks, Katie.
Q.¬† This job was open a couple years ago.¬† Knowing what you know now and what you've gone through at Pitt, were you ready at that time to come back here and coach?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I haven't thought about it that way, but I wouldn't have traded the three years.¬† I'm fortunate the way it's turned out.¬† I think, like coach said, are you ready for it?¬† Yeah, you're ready, but I think you're more ready now.¬† You hope next year you're better.¬† So I'm pretty fortunate and feel glad the way it worked out.
Q.¬† Earlier you said you want to accomplish things here that the university can be proud of, that the State can be proud of.¬† What are some of those specific goals that you have?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I think it's the way we go about doing what we do, how we play, and doing it with guys that are out in the community.¬† That was one of the things that was most humbling to me.¬† When you talk about and see these players that are successful on the field, but when you hear people talk about them outside and what a great person that is and what they've done, and certainly I appreciate and welcome the challenge.¬† I mean, the bar has been set high here.¬† Yet I feel that you couldn't be at a place with more support to accomplish excellence on the field, but also doing it the right way so that you can have guys that are truly successful on the field, in the classroom, and most importantly when they‑‑ I think our job is to make sure that every kid that comes through the program is ready not just to be ready to do what he would be successful at his next endeavor.¬† But that's where I've been proud of the guys that have gone on and had the opportunity to play in the NFL.
But there are just as many guys that have gone on and started with great jobs and doing really well.¬† There are so many things that encompass all this.
I do.¬† I want our players to be proud of what they're doing in each other, and then I want to be reflective of the university, and this university, we've talked about it.¬† It's a great university.¬† You can get a world class education.¬† Coach talked about, and it's the truth.¬† If you take the last 20, 25 years of consistency on the football field, that's a high standard that's been set.¬† Yet I think there is nothing more rewarding than having a group of guys together working after a common goal.¬† There are special things individually, and that's where it means a ton to me when you're part of it.
No coach is going to make a guy or turn a guy into being a pro.¬† But together and being able to have a hand in their growth and seeing guys accomplishing things, that's where I talked to players as they were going through this and they were reaching out.¬† Brian showed me one statement that the players‑‑ that was the most rewarding.¬† That got me as much as anything was what the players‑‑ because you don't ask a player.¬† You don't say, hey, what did you think of me?¬† Or Travis Frederick or Montee Ball, and that's really why we do this is to help guys become the best they can.¬† I'm not even sure what your first question was, but it was good.
BARRY ALVAREZ:¬† You can see he and Bo have the same training?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, but I'm one press conference only.¬† Don't expect to leave guys here.¬† It won't be long.
Q.¬† Have you changed much about the way you like to play offense?¬† What is your preferred defensive style?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I think‑‑ no, we haven't changed much on offense.¬† But I think you've got to be‑‑ and that's why I love and I think it fit where we were at at Pitt and I believe it fits here at Wisconsin.¬† Defensively you want to have good offense, good defense and good special teams, right?¬† And I think it's most important that you have to have a foundation.¬† You have to have a system.¬† Kids have to know what the base of the schematics are.
But I learned that you also have to adjust and play to the strengths of your players, and I think that's what coaching is.¬† It's to have stability in a program, you have to have an offensive or defensive and special teams philosophy.¬† But then I think equally as important you have to adjust to your players.¬† That's where I'm looking forward to.¬† I think I'm a better coach when I truly know the players and know their strengths and weaknesses.¬† But I think that there's an identity to this university and to this program.¬† It's built on toughness.¬† It's physically and mentally tough, you know?¬† You want to have a well‑coached‑‑ we talk all the time to the players about being smart, tough, dependable.¬† That is the type of team that we want to have.
Q.¬† You alluded to this a little before.¬† But bowl week and being with the team, how important is that?¬† How much do you plan to be around the team?¬† If I've got my facts right, your old house is Coach Andersen's; do you plan on buying that back now?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Depends what the price is.¬† I want to be around.¬† I didn't‑‑ this group, this team earned the right for this game.¬† But I'm looking forward to being around it and seeing guys and getting a feel for who they are.¬† So I appreciate the opportunity to be around practices and to continue to reacquaint myself with some and to truly get to know others.¬† So I think that's where I feel fortunate that I will have those opportunities.
BARRY ALVAREZ:¬† Thank you for coming out.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports