Our perspective: College football is a brutal business, just ask Paul Chryst – Kenosha News

College football is a brutal business. And it’s getting more so.

Just ask Paul Chryst. The Wisconsin football coach got the ax last Sunday after the Badgers stumbled out of the blocks this season with an upset loss to Washington State, a dismal 52-21 blowout against Ohio State on national television, and then the capper, a 34-10 home less against former Badger coach Bret Bielema.

A day later Chryst found himself on the unemployment line when Wisconsin Athletic Director Chris McIntosh met with him and showed him the door and announced defensive coordinator Jim Leonard would take over as interim coach.

By Wisconsin standards, that’s pretty brutal and dismissive. But in these days of multi-billion dollar TV contracts and fans clamoring for winning seasons, the landscape of college football is changing.

McIntosh sugar-coated the axing, of course, saying, “After a heartfelt and authentic conversation with Coach Chryst about what is in the long-term best interest of our football program, I have concluded that now is the time for a change in leadership. Paul is a man of great integrity who loves his players. I have great respect and admiration for Paul and the legacy of him and his family at the University of Wisconsin.”

But pack your bags. It’s tough to teach team loyalty when there is none for the coaching staff.

It’s not like Chryst wasn’t a winning coach. Over his seven years at Wisconsin, he led the Badgers to 67 wins vs. 26 losses. That’s a 72% winning record and his mark of 43-18 against Big Ten teams was 70.5%.

But, now, slip out of the gate and you’re gone. That apparently is Wisconsin’s ruthless new standard – one that is echoed throughout college football and explains why Chryst joins four other major college coaches on the unemployment line – just since the beginning of the season.

The last time UW fired a coach was three decades ago, when it finally dismissed Don Morton after he posted a 6-27 record and went 3-21 in the Big Ten in his three years at UW. And we can’t overlook the record of former football coach John Coatta, a star quarterback at UW who set the Big Ten season pass completion record of 64.2 percent that stood for 27 years. As UW coach, however, Coatta did not win a game in his first two seasons. He set an NCAA record, which still stands, for most consecutive games without a win to begin a career—23. When the drought finally ended in 1969 with a 23-17 win over Iowa, Badger fans stormed the field at Camp Randall and then thousands of alcohol-fueled revelers marched across campus, up Langdon Street and then to the state Capitol, celebrating in the streets into the early morning. Coatta finally departed with a 3-26-1 record.

Those days are gone. Thankfully.

But so is the patience for any coach who does not produce immediately and spectacularly and continue to do so.

Chryst’s departure from his $5.2 million-a-year job will be eased a bit by a reduced $11 million contract buyout that will be paid by the University of Wisconsin Foundation, the university’s fundraising organization. And his coaching days may not be over, considering his strong winning record.

Perhaps, the best commentary on Wisconsin’s decision and the state of college football, came from Bielema.

Bielema left the Badger coaching job after posting a 68-24 record, to seek the bright lights of the SEC to coach at Arkansas. He was fired a few years later when he led the Razorbacks to 34 wins and 34 losses.

He landed at Illinois and had a 5-7 record last year, but is 4-1 this season, including the blowout against the Badgers which apparently put the nail in Chryst’s coaching coffin.

After talking with Chryst on Monday, Bielema said, “It’s a grim reminder of the world we live in. I’ve been in that rodeo.”

That rodeo is getting more ruthless and demanding every season.

Catch the latest in Opinion

Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!