1664777955 Paul Chryst falls victim to a new ruthless way of

Paul Chryst falls victim to a new, ruthless way of life

The NFL is meant to be football’s shark tank, a cauldron of pressure eaten or eaten, a place where job security clings to the league’s acronym: Not For Long. And yet it’s kind, gentle, and patient compared to the current cutthroat world of college football.

This is the sport where admins like to talk about things like student athlete welfare and character building and life lessons. Well, here’s the current college football life lesson: Everyone and everything is expendable at all times. We’re going to give up a covert ops conference for more money, and we’re going to fire a coach who immediately starts slipping. Look out.

NFL coaches have fired so far this season: zero.

College coaches have fired so far this season: five.

Scott Frost in Nebraska. Herm Edwards in the state of Arizona. Geoff Collins of Georgia Tech. And on that particularly bloody Sunday, Karl Dorrell in Colorado and Paul Chryst in Wisconsin. And the last one is a shocker.

Chryst is more Wisconsin than cheese curds and bratwurst. Born in Madison, he spent part of his childhood a few blocks from Camp Randall Stadium while his father was an assistant coach, went to school there, was an assistant coach there, and then was a highly successful head coach for seven seasons. But when season eight went off course, bam. He was outside.

Chryst is 67-26 overall, 43-18 in the Big Ten, has won three Big West division titles and had three top-15 finishes. But a 2-3 start to the season, punctuated by an ugly home loss on Saturday to former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Illinois, marked the end.

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst looks on during the third quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium.

Paul Chryst won three Big Ten West titles and two New Years Six-Bowls, and was twice Big Ten Coach of the Year.

It’s cold, cold business cloaked in rhetorical boastfulness. Wisconsin Athletic Director Chris McIntosh played his part by delivering some platitudes in the school’s publication announcing Chryst’s dismissal: “After having a heartfelt and authentic chat with Coach Chryst about what was in the long-term best interest.” of our football program, I’ve come to the conclusion now is the time for a leadership change. Paul is a man of integrity who loves his players. I have great respect and admiration for Paul and the legacy of him and his family at the University of Wisconsin.”

Funny way to show that respect and admiration, firing him on October 2nd. The annual autumn administrative panic began to mount three years ago, and now it has reached a new peak.

The midseason layoffs also mock what programs preach about engagement and togetherness during tough winter training sessions, spring practices and the requirement that players stay on campus all summer. Commitment and cohesion are reprehensible when the season starts badly. The interchange portal beckons and the coaches are sent home.

Then the conversation bluntly shifts from thanking the man who was fired to getting on with the recruitment. The December signing period has become a massive disruptor of the season — another college sports problem on the horizon and yet not resolved. Move contract date to spring and end rationalization of in-season layoffs due to recruiting calendar.

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But, hey, Chryst is leaving a very wealthy man after he received a $5.25 million raise a full year ago — the latest in a long line of extensions that will end up costing a school a fortune if they don’t pan out . According to his contract, the acquisition is valued at $16.4 million. The days of pandemic wage cuts and furloughs have certainly passed quickly. Fiscal restraint left collegiate sports long ago, and it’s not coming back.

Right now it’s all just dumb money in sports. Media rights deals are skyrocketing, salaries are skyrocketing, facilities are constantly being built and upgraded, and now the NIL collectives are in overdrive. And what comes with that is a desperation to win that leads to an epidemic of mid-season layoffs.

Every situation is different and every coaching change has its own nuances. Nebraska waited too long to fire Frost and then rushed it when it could have waited until October and saved itself another $7.5 million. (But why? Stupid money. Burn it if you have it.) It could be argued that Arizona State and Georgia Tech have also waited too long. Colorado is in a terrible state, but Dorrell was the Pac-12 Coach of the Year as recently as 2020.

Wisconsin’s move is different, more cold-blooded, but not without reason. Caretaker coach Jim Leonhard, the defensive coordinator, was a very successful assistant and had his name floating around for other jobs. This gives him an in-season audition to see if he is head coaching material.

And then there’s the potential Lance Leipold Hiring Derby scenario. Leipold, the coach who got Kansas off to a wonderful 5-0 start in his second season in the country’s toughest Power 5 job, could be an object of desire in Nebraska. And if Wisconsin also targeted a guy with deep ties to the state, well, that might explain the urgency of Chryst’s release.

Leipold is from Wisconsin and was an assistant with the Badgers 30 years ago. He was also a minor collegiate coaching giant, winning six Division III national championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater. (Similar to former Badgers basketball coaching legend Bo Ryan, who won big at the D-III level before becoming a star at Madison. Remember, athletic directors love to find repeatable hiring formulas.)

The fact that it took Leipold until he was 51 to get a shot at an FBS job — and then it was a Mid-American Conference Buffalo — is part of what ails great college football. But he’s made up for lost time, both there and now in Kansas, and suddenly he’s the sexiest 58-year-old with a 7-10 record at his current job on the planet.

It’s a strange new day with the possibility of Nebraska and Wisconsin bickering over Kansas’ football coach. But that might be where we’re headed.

Where is sport headed as a whole? Deeper into the shark tank. Another will be released next week. But at least they’ll say nice things about the newly fired guy in the release. It’s the college football way.

More college football coverage:

• Karl Dorrell is out in Colorado. Now it’s Auburn’s turn.
• The Lane Train rolls in at Ole Miss, on and off the field
• SI’s Top 10: Georgia shows that the top Dawgs have some weaknesses

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