Starkey: The gods of college sports
By Joe Starkey
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 10:38 p.m.
Coaches, even relatively humble ones such as Paul Chryst, have become the gods of college football. It's embarrassing the way these coaching dramas take fans hostage across the country year after year.
In the social media-sphere, the one unfolding at Pitt has been dubbed the “First Temptation of Chryst.”
Coaches rule college sports. They reap most of the revenue. They ride the backs of unpaid student-athletes to untold fortunes. Even when they're fired, they flee in golden chariots (Gene Chizik's $7.5 million buyout at Auburn will be paid in monthly installments, thank you).
Their wishes are college presidents' commands.
Athletes, fans, administrators, they all bow at the altar of the coach/king, who can be blamed only so much for his institutional infidelities. His power, after all, is conferred upon him. There are no rules. Spineless school presidents (which is to say, the NCAA) sit idly as the college sports landscape grows from unchecked greed to outright mayhem.
Behold the surreal absurdity of the Chryst situation.
Pitt's football coach, who has not even completed one full season, is considered an obvious candidate to fill Wisconsin's sudden vacancy. Hard to feel sorry for Pitt, which stole Todd Graham from Tulsa, saw him flee, and employs an athletic director who abandoned Pitt for his “dream job,” then was rehired when the dream turned into a nightmare.
Pitt has called five men “head coach” since Dave Wannstedt was fired two years ago Friday. It now is at risk of further embarrassment. If that's possible.
Wisconsin is said to be Chryst's dream job. He really does have family there. He grew up there. Played football there. Ran the offense there. His mother lives there. One of his daughters goes to school there. All of the local columnists are saying his return would save the program there.
Pitt tried to put a poison pill in Chryst's contract. It's more like a placebo. I don't care if it's an $6 million buyout. What's $6 million in college sports?
A $50 million ACC buyout couldn't keep Maryland from bolting for the Big Ten (and who's not excited for that Maryland-Minnesota rivalry to spark up?). Wisconsin will reel in $24 million annually in Big Ten Network money. If it wants Chryst — and he wants them — nothing will stand in the way.
Chryst released a statement saying he is “committed” to Pitt. He did not deny interest in the Wisconsin job. He did not say he is staying.
We've seen this movie before. We'll see if it ends differently. Ben Howland, after signing a seven-year extension, stood in the Petersen Events Center media room and said, “I will be here for the next seven years, without question.”
Howland was gone within a year, bound for his “dream job” at UCLA (how is that turning out?).
Pitt insulted the masses when it created the impression that Wannstedt resigned voluntarily.
Chryst, if he so much as interviews at Wisconsin, should be labeled a two-timer: You can't “commit” to a relationship one day and go on a date the next.
If Chryst stays, he will be hailed a hero — a good god, merely for honoring some-340 days of his contract.
Is the bar that low?
I'm betting Chryst stays, either because Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez has a better option or because he really is the rare coach who believes in honoring a commitment.
Meanwhile, some poor souls continue to live under the illusion that there are coaches who would never leave. Take Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon, who has used interest from other schools as leverage for contract sweeteners.
Would he ever leave?
Of course he would. I'm not saying he will. But one situation to keep an eye on is USC. It has wooed Dixon before. Dixon does not want to coach against his close friend Howland. That is certain. But if Howland is fired at UCLA and the USC job opens again, who knows?
Dixon's wife attended USC. He might even have family there.
Meanwhile, what if Alvarez hatches a plan to return to the sidelines for a few years, then pull Chryst from Pitt?
Could that happen?
Of course it could.
You'll just have to wait. The gods are busy.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 “The Fan.” His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Still waiting on Crosby, Malkin
- Rossi: Lack of together time showing for Penguins’ defense
- 3 ejected after Pirates, Brewers brawl
- Washington County crash causes chemical spill into Chartiers Creek
- Police fatally shoot man in Wilkinsburg after chase
- Fleury a bright spot among struggling Penguins in playoffs
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- LaBar: Did WWE referee know finish to Undertaker match?
- Attorney wants lesser term for woman in Greensburg torture death