Redskins

Pitt coach Paul Chryst downplays Wisconsin buzz

Pitt coach Paul Chryst downplays Wisconsin buzz

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh football coach Paul Chryst understands why his name popped up as a candidate for the open job at Wisconsin.

He's also through discussing the prospects of him returning to his hometown and alma mater to replace Bret Bielema, who bolted suddenly last week for Arkansas.

``I'm not going to talk too much about stuff that really,'' Chryst said Friday as the Panthers began preparations for next month's BBVA Compass Bowl against Ole Miss.

Chryst is from Madison, Wis., and both played and coached for the Badgers before taking over at Pitt last December. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who put in a few calls to help Chryst land his first head coaching job, said it wouldn't be right for Chryst to leave after just one year.

That's just fine with Chryst, who endured an up-and-down season this fall as Pitt went 6-6 and earned its third straight trip to Birmingham, Ala., for the Compass Bowl. Chryst called the job speculation ``a natural part of the profession'' but downplayed the notion there was ever any real chance he would force the Panthers to search for their fifth head coach in two years.

``I think there's a lot more buzz surrounding (the Wisconsin job) than there was (with) myself and with the guys that we know,'' he said.

Still, Alvarez appears to be in no rush to make a hire. He's already announced he'll coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, buying him time to find the right candidate. On paper, Chryst would appear to be a natural fit.

Then again, so was Bielema, who was Alvarez's hand-picked successor. While the move to leave a program he led to three straight Rose Bowls stunned many - particularly Wisconsin alums - it didn't shock Chryst.

``I think that Bret's a smart guy and made an informed decision and I don't think stunned would be the right word,'' Chryst said. ``I think it's good for him. He's probably very happy and that's good. There are opportunities. There's a new challenge.''

And Chryst is content about the challenge that lies ahead at Pitt, which will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference next fall. The Panthers were an enigma this fall, beating Virginia Tech and Rutgers while nearly upsetting undefeated and top-ranked Notre Dame. Yet they also lost to Youngstown State and Connecticut and failed to build any real sense of momentum.

Still, the fact he is apparently out of the mix at Wisconsin drew a sigh of relief from a fan base and a roster that's going through a bit of coaching fatigue. Chryst received a standing ovation from the student section at a Pitt men's basketball game last week. He appreciated the gesture. He was just a little stunned by it.

``That was a little cheesy,'' Chryst said with a laugh before adding, ``I haven't earned it.''

Chryst isn't one to get comfortable in the spotlight anyway. He'd prefer to let that shine on his players, who remain the main reason he's sticking around.

``I feel fortunate to be here and I like what we're doing and I love doing it with the guys that we're doing it with,'' Chryst said. ``That's a pretty good feeling.''

That sense of loyalty is one of the reasons he's become so popular with his players. It's also why redshirt sophomore defensive end T.J. Clemmings - who is experimenting at offensive tackle heading into the bowl game - felt a little bit of angst when Wisconsin suddenly opened up.

``I was a little bit worried,'' Clemmings said. ``This is my third year. I can't do the whole coaching thing again. I think Coach Chryst will hang around.''

Clemmings just isn't certain. When asked if he's convinced Chryst will be on campus when spring drills begin, Clemmings just smiled.

``I hope so,'' Clemmings said. ``I don't know what the man is going to do. I can't say, but I hope he's around.''

Chryst would rather stop talking about a job he doesn't have and start talking about the one he does. Though this will be Pitt's third year spending New Year's Day in Alabama, he doesn't expect there to be a motivation issue considering the Panthers are playing a quickly improving team in Ole Miss (6-6).

Besides, if the Panthers are frustrated, they have no one to blame but themselves. A few more wins and their postseason prospects would have offered a different destination.

``This is where you should be,'' Chryst said. ``This is what we earned. I think we've earned the right to go to a bowl. This is where it's slotted and we've got a chance to play a really good opponent I believe.''

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Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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The Browns called the Redskins 15 years ago hoping to trade up for Sean Taylor, but the Redskins said 'no'

The Browns called the Redskins 15 years ago hoping to trade up for Sean Taylor, but the Redskins said 'no'

Thanks to his illustrious career at Miami, Sean Taylor caught the eyes of Joe Gibbs and the Redskins heading into the 2004 NFL Draft.

Not surprisingly, though, Washington wasn't the only franchise interested in adding a do-it-all, safety-in-a-linebacker's-body prospect to their defense.

In a terrific look-back at that draft from Sports Illustrated — a draft in which a record six Miami products went in the first 21 picks — you'll find this excerpt:

But at the last minute, the Browns, owners of the No. 7 pick, called asking to trade up. Butch Davis, Cleveland’s coach and EVP, had previously been the head coach at Miami and had recruited all six of these Hurricane prospects out of high school...

[Vinny] Cerrato says the Browns were coming for Taylor. Davis is more diplomatic about it: “It was probably about 60-40 that we would’ve taken Sean [over Winslow],” he says. He wanted to know what it’d cost to get Taylor. But Washington wasn’t budging. “There was no interest whatsoever,” Cerrato says. “We wanted Sean Taylor.”

Cleveland also reportedly contacted the Giants about their fourth overall selection so they could skip the 'Skins entirely, but New York ended up orchestrating their own deal to land Eli Manning.

Fortunately, the Burgundy and Gold stayed in place and got Taylor despite the calls. Often times, trading back in the draft is an attractive option. This time around, however, that option paled in comparison to the opportunity to acquire Taylor.

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2019 NFL Draft Preview Special: How to watch

2019 NFL Draft Preview Special: How to watch

Were the countless mock drafts not enough? Do you need a little more explanation before the nail-biter that is Round 1? NBC Sports has you covered.

Representatives from every branch of the NBC Sports Regional Network will be breaking down the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 25th just hours before one of the most anticipated and nerve-wracking shows in all of sports. Beginning at 3 p.m. ET, experts and insiders will preview Round 1 and the draft needs of their network's respective teams.

So obviously, we've got Redskins insider JP Finlay on set and ready to discuss what's in store for the 2019 Burgundy and Gold.

<<CHECK OUT NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S LATEST NFL MOCK DRAFT>> 

The special will be available exclusively on the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. If you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

How to watch NBC Sports's 2019 Draft Preview Live Stream

When: Thursday, April 25th

Time: 3 p.m. ET

Who: JP Finlay and team-specific NFL experts across the Regional Sports Network

Steam: MyTeams App

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