Paul Chryst finds himself in an exceedingly rare position headed into spring ball, doubling as Pitt’s head coach and quarterbacks coach.
While it is true there are plenty of head coaches serving as coordinators across the country, Chryst is among just a small handful of head coaches in the power-five conferences to officially serve as position coach, too. He would be the only one in the ACC to wear both hats. While the prospect of doing both sounds like it could potentially create more work, Chryst is pumped.
"I love it," Chryst said in a recent phone interview. "That's the essence of it all. We get into coaching to coach. I wouldn’t do it if I thought for one second it would affect the team. We have to go make it work. I feel confident in that."
The Pitt coaching staff underwent a major restructuring in the offseason. Defensive coaches were shuffled around, and a new running backs coach and receivers coach were hired. When former quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger decided to leave the program to pursue non-football opportunities, Chryst decided it was time for him to get back to more hands-on coaching. Despite the timing -- Bollinger left after signing day -- Chryst says his decision to coach quarterbacks is not a short-term fix.
"I set it up for the long term," Chryst said. "Otherwise, it’s not fair. I wanted to make sure we covered all the positions, and we were able to do that. On paper, I like the way it is. Now, we have to make it real for our kids, make sure everyone can get coached with great coaching and develop them because we do have so many young kids."
Chryst has a long history of mentoring quarterbacks. A signal-caller himself, Chryst has served seven different stints as a quarterbacks coach across the country -- at various collegiate levels and in the Canadian Football League. Most notably, he helped develop Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson, who was the Pac-10's No. 2 career passing leader after finishing his career, and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson at Wisconsin.
At Pitt, he faces a bit of a quarterback shortage when practice opens next month. The Panthers only have two scholarship quarterbacks available -- Chad Voytik and Trey Anderson. They only inked one quarterback on signing day (Adam Bertke), after losing out on another commitment who flipped to Vanderbilt. While it appears the starting job is Voytik's to lose, Chryst said he is going to split the reps between the only two quarterbacks he will have on the roster this spring.
"Every spring, there’s going to be some positions that are heavier and some that are lighter and you’ve got to make everyone the best they can be," Chryst said. "That is the one benefit there. They’ll both get a ton of reps and that will be good for them. You get a lot of reps, you’ve got a better chance to get into rhythm. We have to keep them both healthy, but it will be a great time for them."