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January 14, 2015

Paul Chryst

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Chryst.

Q.  Was it an easy decision to hire both Dave and Joe?
COACH CHRYST:  Yeah, for me I couldn't be more excited and appreciative of it.  It's kind of neat in this profession to both really kind of knew about them.  There are two different ways as a coach you want‑‑ you want to be proud of the work you do, and certainly when you say that you want to know your players.  And you want that to be able to stand on its own merit, and it is about relationships.
So for me, kind of came about it two different ways.  Bottom line is I think in all the coaches is I think it's who they are as people and then how they do their job.  It's so much more than just the football coaching.  So for me with Dave certainly Dave has a great reputation as a football coach, and then knew enough people that knew him as a person, people that I know and trust that I was really excited.
All of this is not just a one‑sided deal.  As much as when we had time to visit, I thought it was as important for me so that he get to know Dave, but for Dave to get to know me.  So when he came and thought that it would be a good fit, and I was really excited.
Then Joe certainly had the privilege to work with him.  So you kind of come about it a whole different way.  But again, I was always impressed with the way that he coached, and that's the way he treated people.  When you say the way he coached, coaching is not just telling a guy what to do on the field and I just think when I was around for all the guys being with a group of guys that are obviously great at what they do, but you feel like personally I want to be around guys that I can continue to grow.
Now, I felt that when I'm with Joe.  He makes you think things are a little bit different or just watching him the way he does things, that's pretty good.  I remember when our offices were next to each other, and Scott was in our office and we were doing some stuff, and Joe had Lance Kendricks in there.  He looked at me and he says I wish you were as good a coach as Joe.  You know what I mean?  But he heard it too.  It's pretty neat.  And I think that's what's ‑‑ I look forward to starting a relationship with Dave and building on that and continuing to get to know him and grow from him, and also with an existing relationship to be able to continue to do that.  Feel pretty fortunate with both of them.

Q.  How was your blueprint for building the staff?  How has it translated to where you are right now?  You have a guy devoted to special teams.  You have your offensive coordinator focused on the offensive line.  Has that been the plan all along or is this how your staff has evolved?
COACH CHRYST:  I feel fortunate right now that it's‑‑ you know, I don't think you can go‑‑ you've got two ends of the spectrum.  It's all about finding, I think, the best people and it is fits.  There are certainly other dynamics that come into play.  The thing I feel good about, I don't feel like I've been forced to compromise or do something like, Geez, that's not exactly how we want to do it.  Let's make it work this way.  I haven't felt that.
But I think, you know, Joe and Dave are both more than just‑‑ you know, they're not‑‑ they certainly have their areas of expertise, but I don't feel like they're pigeonholed into any‑‑ it's not just focusing on the O‑line, that's what Joe is going to coach, and Dave's going to coach backers.  But I feel really good about the whole breadth of it with them both.  Yeah, I did think it was important to have a special teams coach.  I think it's important.  I think that certainly when you go through it, I think guys either know and appreciate Wisconsin.  It doesn't mean you have to play here.  It doesn't mean you have to have coached here.  I think that's important.  I feel fortunate right now that I've been able to kind of build it the way we want to build it.

Q.  It looks like right now you still need to hire coaches for the secondary wide receivers and outside linebackers.  I'm just curious what's your plan for that?  Do you hope to have everyone in place before everybody can go recruit?  How do you approach that?
COACH CHRYST:  That was good.  That is one of the questions I anticipated.  Yeah, I feel pretty close to getting it done.  Certainly we getting to out Thursday, so we'll be ready to do all that and have it in place.  It will be soon.

Q.  In your recent discussions with Bob (Indiscernible), how serious was he about returning to college?
COACH CHRYST:  Obviously, I think people here know I think the world of Bo as a coach and as a guy.  When Bo came with me and up to Pitt, I knew where Bo wanted to‑‑ where he also wanted to go to, right, and we had that discussion.  I know Bo wanted to have an opportunity to coach in the NFL, and I told him then I don't care if it's three days, three weeks, three months, three years.  I think with all these guys you enjoy the time you're with them and never want to keep someone from going.
Obviously, Bo had the opportunity in Tampa, and then I think with his body of work, to have an opportunity at Tennessee, you know, he's got a great family, and that's not easy for kids to move schools and all of that.  Bo congratulated me on this and that was about it.  We didn't have discussions about it.  Bo is in a good spot.  Happy for him and he's fired up for us.

Q.  Just to clarify, you said Dave would coach the backers.  Is that all linebacker positions?
COACH CHRYST:  Just the ones that are playing well (laughing).

Q.  Inside and outside or not?
COACH CHRYST:  He can coach everything.  I mean, yeah, as we keep putting this thing together, but I don't know what angle you're coming from.  He's going to coach.

Q.  No, because last year he coached inside linebackers and not outside.
COACH CHRYST:  We're going to have probably an inside backer and outside backer coach.  Whoever is playing well, he'll coach.  I mean, what the heck, behind the curtain.

Q.  You had to assemble a family‑‑
COACH CHRYST:  That's a tough one to follow, you know?

Q.  I know.  I'll give it my best.  You had to assemble a staff at Pitt.  Was it any more difficult or did you know some of the road blocks or challenges?
COACH CHRYST:  I think it helps you.  There are, in having kind of knowing them it doesn't make it any easier, you know.  I've been fortunate to talk to a lot of really good people that are really good coaches.  You talk to more than you can hire and that's, for me personally, that's not‑‑ I knew where I was going.  That's hard.  Yet I really am excited about the group we're putting together.
But I think you do feel certainly different dynamics.  I think that wanting both I think I've learned along the way, unless I want both, Dave and Joe to be really involved with completing the staff.  That's why I was really fortunate when I got here to visit with Dave, and I was able to go through the whole process with him, and I enjoyed it because one I can see how to facilitate more discussions.  Certainly go off on a tangent and it has nothing to do with staffing.  It was good.  I liked that.
Certainly with Joe there is more familiarity.  I think he knew or I knew where he was coming from, so he maybe didn't have to elaborate as much.  But it was‑‑ I think it helps having done it at Pitt, and I don't think I've certainly perfected it by any means, but I think it will help.

Q.  Is it imperative to have former Badgers on a staff that can recruit a coach or player that you need to bring in here to Wisconsin?
COACH CHRYST:  I don't say imperative because we have so many, but I'm really excited and I think tremendous fits.  But I think those guys know the state, they know the program.  They respect it.  You didn't want to say, okay, I've got to get X players or X coaches here or from the state.  But I think it's all part of their make‑up of who they are.
I think it also goes back to you're around.  It's hard in an interview to really know who that person is.  I think the best interviews would be if you were sleep deprived for a week and then have something really bad happen, and then you find out how they respond to it and all of that.
So you do rely on relationships, and that's why I think you do look at people you know or people you really trust that have worked with them, because I think it's who they are as much as how they are as a coach and what they do in that sense.  I put value into knowing the state, of having played here, but it's not imperative.

Q.  Some of us here are familiar with some of the names, Mickey Turner and Thomas Brown from last year.  But guys like Haering and Breckterfield that you hired at Pitt, can you explain what you saw and when you worked with them there?  You said I want to bring those guys with me here?
COACH CHRYST:  Yeah.  First, got to know them when I was coaching Oregon State and he was a player for us and loved just the way he went about it.  He's a good player too, really good, which I liked.  Kind of liked the way he went about his day to day.  He went back, and obviously worked with Mike and started learning more about him as a coach.  When I had the opportunity, it ended up being a good fit for Nokes and for Pitt, so he came out there.  And that's when you truly get to spend more time with him.
I think he's just a guy that truly cares about all the things.  What he values in coaching are things that I appreciate a ton.  Then part of coaching, so staff‑wise, tremendous staff person, tremendous family and just the way he goes about every day, he's a guy that I think you want to be around and you know that when you watch him and see how he interacts with players, and I think what he did with Aaron Donald.  I think it's all what coaching is about, and that is helping a guy be the best he can.
Aaron did a ton of it.  But I think he certainly helped him.  I got to see that day‑in and day‑out.  It was pretty‑‑ I think Nokes is pretty special that way as a coach.
And Chris, I first met Chris when I GA'd at West Virginia, he was a player, captain of the team, heck of a player.  Grew up.  Chris took a recruiting visit here as a high school recruit, so just kind of hit it off.  Again, a lot of the core fundamental values we saw eye to eye on.  He grew up, his dad was a coach, brother was a coach and always stayed in touch with him.  It worked out that he was coaching high school in Pittsburgh, but wherever, if something would have ever happened wherever, I would have asked him to see if that was a good fit for him.  Like I would like him on that staff and it worked out.
I thought he did a heck of a job with our players.  I think he gets kind of the mission statement.  Again, great family.  I was fired up when both Nokes and Chris said, yeah, this is going to be a great opportunity coaching at the University of Wisconsin, it all fit.  Really excited about that.

Q.  What are some of the priorities of getting a new staff on the same page ahead of spring ball, and how important is this spring camp in terms of players getting to know you and vice versa?
COACH CHRYST:  Yeah, obviously as coaches right now we've got to finish off the recruiting class, and it will be a great time.  Because February, March before spring ball, that is what it's about is making sure we're on the same page.  Just because the guys that I've been with we may do some things different than what we did before, and we're going to add some guys that are going to be able to bring a lot to it, so I think kind of all getting on the same page.  I'm looking forward to that.  That is energizing.  It's fun.  We all grow from that.
I think, like you said, getting to know the players, every time you're with them it's important.  But certainly this is because I think we're much better coaches when we know who the guys are.  Not just what they can do athletically on the field, but how they're motivated or how they respond to different things.  What is the best way they learn?  So I think we can't get around the players enough because I think that is something you hope you're always kind of continuing doing.  But I think to be able to start that‑‑ it's not just them knowing names and us knowing names and you love it when that part of the transition is over because that's one of the best things about this job is the personal interaction you get to have.

Q.  Sitting here right now, what is your priority?  Secondly, to what degree has Barry had any talk with you, any influence with you, any opinions with you with regards to your staff?
COACH CHRYST:  Certainly a priority is finishing the staff and then making sure we're ready to make the best use of our time starting tomorrow.  I think then‑‑ which translates into making sure that we've added a good group of guys that are great fits for Wisconsin and make this team better.  As far as with Barry, I would hope that in a lot of the things I do, I can lean on him as a resource.  I'm pretty fortunate to have that.
So I've never, with all these people I want to do it with everyone, and certainly Coach Alvarez is part of that.  Yet I appreciate the way that he wants it to be.  I have not felt anything but just giving some advice.  You lean on him for something.  I've enjoyed kind of bouncing stuff off him.  It's been pretty fun.

Q.  What intrigued you about Thomas Brown, a young, proven coach it seemed?
COACH CHRYST:  Yeah, obviously I think I've been fortunate to be with some really good running backs coaches.  You know, when I was first here I loved working with Seth.  I loved working with Thomas and then I feel like I've got a pretty good‑‑ Wilson, I worked with in San Diego.  I've been around some really good ones.  Actually, some great ones.
So you have a sense it's a pretty high bar.  Also I think that was one thing really with all the coaches.  I was impressed with all the coaches because I was here and able to watch both practices.  That's a strange dynamic because I'm not there to evaluate them.  I'm not there‑‑ the kids would come up and talk to me about Thomas, you know, and obviously had a chance to visit with Melvin, and then had a chance to sit down and talk with him.  I think a lot of the things that I saw in those other running backs coaches that I've been around with, he had some of those core principles that you say that's pretty darn good.  So I think that was, like anything, you kind of just take in a lot of different things.
Joe had a chance to visit with them and kind of maybe confirm what you were thinking, so I thought that was pretty fortunate there.  As I said, it's a pretty good bar that's been set.

Q.  Have you decided how you're going to assign recruiting?  Who is going to oversee it and be part of that equation?
COACH CHRYST:  We're kind of working on that now.  It will be close.  Really as far as all of it, certainly we'll have some core areas that are important for Wisconsin.  And then where you supplement from, I think it depends on kind of as you finish up the make‑up of the staff, but certainly going to start from within.  As we build up and as far as staffing, still have a recruiting coordinator position to fill, and then with the other coaches we'll be able to kind of tighten it all up, I hope sooner than later.

Q.  Since you took the job a lot of things have happened in the Big Ten.  New coach at Michigan who you know well.  National Championship won by Ohio State.  What is your thought?  You knew it was going to be a difficult task to begin with.  But coming into the league with those two things changed, what is your thought of your task going forward?
COACH CHRYST:  I think that obviously it has been a heck of a strong game in the bowl games, but that's kind of how I perceived it to begin with.  You know I mean I've always had a lot of respect for and know what Ohio State is and certainly Michigan with Jim going there.  So I don't think it changed anything.
It wasn't like you were watching this and saying wow, this is different than I thought.  You're always challenged and that part is exciting because there are opportunities there.  Certainly everything you do is important about making Wisconsin the best it can be.  Wisconsin has always had to compete against Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, you know what I mean, and Maryland and Rutgers added to it.  But it's the Big Ten, and that is what you expect from it.

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