Wisconsin assistant Paul Chryst to coach at Pitt

Graham said repeatedly over the last 11 months he was looking forward to the challenge, constantly preaching character, commitment and a “high octane” offense designed to take the Big East by storm.

It never happened as the Panthers struggled adapting from Wannstedt’s pro-style approach to Graham’s modified spread attack. Pitt allowed 57 sacks this season, easily the most in the FBS, and Graham drew the ire of the fan base for shifting blame from himself to quarterback Tino Sunseri.

The growing pains led to a wildly uneven season in which the Panthers let winnable games slip away. Pitt held double-digit second-half leads over Iowa, Cincinnati and rival West Virginia only to collapse in the final minutes.

There have been so such issues for the Badgers with Chryst calling the plays.

Chryst anchored the offense around massive offensive line that churned out 1,000-yard rushers with regularity, but also showed an ability to adapt.

When former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson transferred in this fall, Chryst didn’t hesitate to let Wilson go to work. The senior finished second in the country in pass efficiency while throwing for 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The running game was its usual self as Montee Ball rushed for 1,759 yards and 32 touchdowns while becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Graham didn’t leave the cupboard completely bare. Running back Ray Graham was among the nation’s leaders in rushing yards before tearing the ACL in his right knee in October, ending his season. He is expected to return for his senior season, and if he’s healthy he will give Chryst the kind of dynamic threat out of the backfield that was a fixture during Chryst’s days at Wisconsin.

Chryst’s first job, however, will be selling the Panthers that he’s in it for the long haul.

“The bar is set high in the `City of Champions’ and that is incredibly exciting and inspiring,” Chryst said. “I can’t wait to meet our players and get to work.”

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