GREEN BAY – Alex Van Pelt has never met Paul Chryst, but when the Green Bay Packers running backs coach – and proud University of Pittsburgh alum – heard that University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez had ruled out the possibility of Chryst returning to Madison to be the Badgers’ next coach, Van Pelt was thrilled.
Van Pelt may not be the best-known quarterback from Pitt – that honor goes to Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino – but Van Pelt was a four-year starter (1989 through ‘92) for the Panthers and holds school career records for most passing yards (11,267), completions (867) and attempts (1,503).
And because some of Chryst’s predecessors didn’t make much of an effort to connect with former players – and the ex-UW offensive coordinator and Madison native has done so – Van Pelt said he’s heard nothing but good things about Chryst. The Panthers are 6-6 this year and will play in the BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 5 in Birmingham, Ala., against Ole Miss after nearly knocking off now-No. 1 Notre Dame earlier this season.
Many believe Chryst would be Alvarez’s pick to replace Bielema, but Alvarez said Thursday that it wouldn’t be right for Chryst to leave after only one year at Pitt, especially after Alvarez leaned on a few friends to help him get the job last year.
And that’s good news for the Panthers, Van Pelt said.
“I do not know him from Adam, but I know from speaking to people back there what type of man he is and how he’s reached out to the alumni, and that’s something that hasn’t happened there in a while,” Van Pelt said Thursday. “I know he’s got the full support of the ex-players. I’m excited and glad he’s sticking around because I like his makeup, his mentality and the direction he’s leading those guys. It’s exciting times to be a Pitt Panther again. I’m glad he’s staying.”
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There are no games scheduled for today.