Paul Chryst was born in Madison, he played quarterback at Wisconsin, he’s been an assistant coach at Wisconsin and now he’s the head coach at Wisconsin. That’s a great story, but ultimately, Chryst will have to do what all coaches do: win.
That’s tough enough as is, but throw in Chryst’s background, and he’s got to be feeling a ton of pressure entering his first season with the Badgers, right?
Maybe, maybe not.
“Well, I’ve always felt really fortunate to be coaching,” Chryst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s a great way to spend your time. You feel really appreciative of those opportunities and then to be able to do it back home, it’s special. It takes time to get adjusted. I know the place. I’ve been here for a number of years. Getting to know our team and to know our players – the more time you spend with them, the more at home you feel with the group. That’s really what’s most important. Just finishing up camp and starting to transition to get ready for Alabama in a week-and-a-half.”
Indeed, the Badgers face the Tide at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Sept. 5.
Chryst’s first game as head coach at Pitt was against Youngstown State. Needless to say, the Tide will be a little tougher.
“Well, when you watch them, it’s what you think it would be,” Chyst said. “Certainly they’ve got very talented, good, well-coached football players – and you see that on film. It certainly grabbed the attention of our players. I think when they first announced (we were playing Alabama), our guys were excited about it. And as you start diving into it and looking at them, you can see why they’ve had so much success. They’ve got good football players and I’ve had the opportunity to play against Coach Saban’s teams before. They are well-coached and you see that on film. It’s a heck of a challenge for us, but big challenges are also great opportunities.”
Chryst has never been a big-picture guy; he’s always focused on there here and now, on getting better today and letting the winning take care of itself. Given where he’s coaching now, however, has his attitude changed? Have his expectations changed?
“It’s a good question and yet, I don’t think I have,” Chryst said. “I think the focus is, and should be, on these players and this team. All that matters is where you’re at today and how can you get better for tomorrow. I think if you can focus on that process and that growth, then you will do all the other things that you want to do. But winning’s a byproduct of the work you do and how you go about it. There’s great support here in Madison, in the state and even across the country. Players want to win, the coaches want to win – all those things we want. But wanting doesn’t do anything. You’ve got to be able to do it, and I think what you can focus on are the things that you can control. I think once you get players and coaches to buy into that, then you’ll be at your best and that’s really at the end of the day what we want to do and that’s our job – to help these players and this team be the best they can be. I think everything outside of that is real, but you focus on what you can control. I think that’s when you enjoy it the most.”