The head coaches poised to lead
Paul Chryst first talked with Panthers athletic director Steve Pederson about the job in 2010, following Dave Wannstedt’s coerced resignation. Chryst had just completed his sixth year as offensive coordinator at
"Obviously," Chryst said, "I wasn't real impressive."
Pederson first hired
“It’s great how life works out,” Chryst said as he prepared for Saturday’s game against
Led by tailback and Heisman finalist Montee Ball, and quarterbacked by
A former assistant at Oregon State and in the
"I never had the need to have 'head coach' on the business card," he said. "But I wanted to make sure if an opportunity presented itself, I was prepared for it. … It had to be a special place and a place that was good for the family. I loved what I was doing."
Sports is the Chryst family business. Paul’s father, George, was a high school head coach and later at Wisconsin-Platteville. His brother Geep is the
"I think he's a very stable, principled guy, and the kind of guy that you could see being the coach here for a long, long time," Pederson said, acknowledging the program's recent instability. "He'll be successful here, and we're just going to keep helping him and supporting him. … People like him, people have responded to him."
The Panthers are 0-2 under Chryst, losing to Youngstown State and Cincinnati.
"The enjoyable part of this is getting to know who we are," he said. "Each game we find out more. … You disrespect the game if you say we should win. How arrogant is it to say we should win? Respect the game, play the game and the game reveals the truth.
"The truth is, two Saturdays ago and a Thursday ago, we weren't the best team, period. There's no BS. That's what's great about sports. It's the only reality today that's real. … We get to live the truth and you have to acknowledge the truth when it's not what you want."
Chryst's voice halts when he recalls all the players, coaches and staff who contributed to Wisconsin's success and helped prepare him for this job. The Badgers averaged 10 wins per season during his time there.
"We can do that here," Chryst said. "I truly believe that."
Dixon has brought that sustained excellence to Pitt basketball. The Panthers are 238-77 in his nine seasons, averaging 26.4 victories and reaching eight
A Pitt assistant the previous four years, Dixon succeeded Ben Howland when Howland went to
"I knew it was going to take time," Dixon said of the process. "I knew they were going to offer it to a number of guys. I had to be patient."
Pitt was 31-5 in his rookie season and has advanced in seven of its eight NCAA tournaments on his watch. Riddled by injuries, the Panthers were 22-17 last season and missed the NCAA for the first time in 11 years.
"People enjoy watching our basketball team play," Pederson said." As we begin traveling around the ACC, people will enjoy us coming into their arenas. We can't wait to get the teams here."
"Twenty-two wins is not enough for us," Dixon said. "We're not used to that. … We were young, but at the same time we had injuries at key positions. … We weren't what we've been, and we got what we earned. …
“We have unrivaled support. We have 11,000 on our waiting list. We’re the only school that we know of, and I’ve talked to
Dixon, 46, not only graduated from TCU but also earned a master's in economics at Cal-Santa Barbara in his native state.
"Jamie's a lot like Frank (Beamer) is in football," Pederson said, "where every year you're there (contending). … It's pretty phenomenal. That's harder to do in football and basketball (than in other sports)."
Some other quick notes to wrap up my pregame interviews here in the Steel City.
* Pederson on the ACC going all in with
* Pedersen on the spring chatter about
"They both never wavered in what they said. And their presidents were strong in their support. So internally you never felt that. But externally it wasn't good to have that stuff floating out there. There's 56 million reasons why that's a dead issue now."
That's a none-too-veiled reference to the ACC's new exit fee, which the conference announced as approximately $50 million.
* Chryst was jazzed when he learned I work in Newport News. At Wisconsin, he coached
What Chryst didn’t realize is that
“I did not know that,” he said. “Shame on me. I knew he went to
The 757 forgives you, Coach.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP