College Sports

Coaching carousel takes center stage at Armed Forces Bowl

From left, Vernon Hargreaves, Houston linebackers coach; Brant Ringler, executive director of the Armed Forces Bowl for ESPN; and Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst answer questions Monday at Lockheed Martin.
From left, Vernon Hargreaves, Houston linebackers coach; Brant Ringler, executive director of the Armed Forces Bowl for ESPN; and Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst answer questions Monday at Lockheed Martin. Special to the Star-Telegram

The two coaches attending Monday’s formal announcement of Houston and Pitt accepting invitations to the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl might not be around when the game kicks off Jan. 2.

Houston linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves filled in for interim head coach David Gibbs, who’s filling in for fired coach Tony Levine. Reports surfaced Monday that Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman is expected to get the Houston job.

“No, I don’t know if it’s been done yet,” Hargreaves said. “I’m not sure where they are with the process. I’m just going to try to work this game and see what happens afterward.”

Pitt coach Paul Chryst did attend Monday’s event at the 1.25-mile long assembly plant for F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, but Chryst has met with Wisconsin officials about the Badgers’ opening.

“The truth of it is I talked to them, and once I was done talking to them it’s been all about getting back and getting our team ready for this bowl game,” Chryst said. “And that’s really where it’s at right now.”

Job status questions to Hargreaves and Chryst were brought up after the Armed Forces Bowl session. Before that, the event was devoted to the upcoming game, which is in its 12th year. Houston (7-5) meets Pitt (6-6) at 11 a.m. Jan. 2 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

“I appreciate that. I was just a little bit nervous,” Chryst said. “That wasn’t about [Wisconsin].”

Houston is 5-2 since sophomore quarterback Greg Ward Jr. took over as starter.

“He’s really gotten comfortable,” Hargreaves said of Ward. “Over the course of this year, the offense has really gotten some experience.”

Pitt enters on a two-game winning streak, with victories against Syracuse and at Miami.

“For us, we’ve got kids that have never and may never ever be in the state of Texas,” Chryst said. “Our kids are fired up about that.

“We’re pretty proud in Pittsburgh that it’s a great football city, but you also know that you’re going to a state where football’s pretty big. I was driving by some of these stadiums. There was two, and I was told, ‘That’s the smaller one.’”

Gibbs was involved with team activities Monday, but Hargreaves said Gibbs would indeed serve as the head coach for the game.

“We try to keep it as normal as possible for them in terms of our schedule and everything else,” Hargreaves said. “Obviously they know about [Herman] and everything else. But we’re just trying to maintain the schedule as normal as possible.”

Chryst said he hasn’t heard anything concrete and doesn’t expect to before Wednesday, the earliest Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez can name a successor to Gary Andersen.

“I was told nothing would happen before then, but I don’t know,” said Chryst. “I don’t know what they’re thinking specifically. A lot depends on the search.”

Asked if his return trip was to Pittsburgh or Madison, Wis., Chryst laughed.

“No, no. I’m going back,” he said. “We’ve got practice tomorrow.”

Eric Zarate, 817-390-7237

Twitter: @zarate_eric

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