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Wisconsin hires Paul Chryst as head coach

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  • By Dan Parr
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Stephan Savoia/Associated Press
Paul Chryst led Pitt to a .500 record in three seasons before leaving for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin made Paul Chryst's homecoming official on Wednesday, announcing he is the Badgers' new head coach.

Reports in the past week indicated Chryst, who had served as head coach at Pitt, would return to Madison. Wednesday was the earliest Wisconsin could hire Chryst because of university policies.

Chryst went 19-19 in three seasons at Pitt. He replaces Gary Andersen, who stunned the college football community by departing to take the Oregon State job after two seasons with the Badgers.

Chryst, 49, is a Madison native who played and coached for Wisconsin. He was a quarterback for the Badgers from 1986-1988 and served as offensive coordinator from 2005-11.

Former Badgers J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson were among those sending well wishes to Chryst on Wednesday. Wilson even said he thinks Chryst will lead the Badgers "to a national championship or two."

The fit seems to be a great one for the Badgers. Chryst emphasizes a power running game on offense, which is exactly the way Wisconsin has operated for more than a decade. It appears Chryst will be looking for a new back to lead that rushing attack, though, as Heisman runner-up Melvin Gordon has said he intends to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

Pitt is looking for a new head coach and athletic director, as AD Steve Pederson was fired Wednesday. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph was selected to serve as Panthers' interim head coach while the team prepares for the Jan. 2 Armed Forces Bowl vs. Houston, which is also going through a head-coaching change; Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman has been hired at Houston but will stay with the Buckeyes through the College Football Playoff. Randy Juhl, vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance, will serve as Pitt's acting athletic director.

Pitt will be hiring its fourth different head coach since Dave Wannstedt departed after the 2010 season.

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