He’s been preparing for years.
“From a young age in this profession, I wanted to be a head football coach,” he said.
Several of the first-year coaches are still at a young age in the profession.
Memphis hired 36-year-old Justin Fuente away from TCU, where he was co-offensive coordinator, and Toledo promoted 32-year-old Matt Campbell from offensive coordinator to head coach after Tim Beckman left for Illinois.
Inexperience is not likely to buy extra time for the newbies. After last season, three coaches were fired (Larry Porter by Memphis, Rob Ianello by Akron and Turner Gill by Kansas) after only two years on the job.
The top jobs at Ohio State and North Carolina, where former Southern Mississippi coach Larry Fedora ended up, opened because of NCAA violations committed by the previous regimes.
Outside of Penn State, Arkansas had the most tumultuous coaching transition, with John L. Smith taking over after Bobby Petrino was caught lying about an affair with a member of the athletic staff.
Unlike most of the new coaches, Smith, the former Michigan State and Louisville coach, takes over a team primed to contend for a national championship.
Flood’s Scarlet Knights, who play at Arkansas in September, aren’t quite national title contenders, but they are among the favorites in the Big East.
While most new coaches have to rebuild, he only needs to guide a program that’s been running well.
“The key to it is, the last thing you want to do is try to be the prior guy because your personality and his might not be identical,” said Flood, who was Schiano’s assistant head coach for five years. “I admire Greg. Greg is a friend of mine and a mentor. But Greg and I don’t have the same personality. For me to try to be Greg Schiano would have never worked.”
Where Flood provides a smooth transition to a stable situation, Chryst will try to bring stability to Pittsburgh. No program has gone through more coaching turmoil in the past few seasons.
Chryst is the Panthers’ third head coach in the past three seasons after Dave Wannstedt and Todd Graham, who left after less than a year on the job. That doesn’t include Mike Haywood, who was fired without ever coaching a game after a run-in with the law. Pitt has also used two interim coaches for its past two bowl games.
After all that, it would seem Chryst would take over with a little less pressure to win now. But not necessarily. He knows it, but he has no complaints.
“We’re pretty lucky to be doing what we’re doing,” he said.