The last time Geep Chryst coached in a college football game was at the 1990 Copper Bowl.
The opponent was Cal — his new employer.
Chryst, 58, still remembers the game at Tucson, Arizona, where quarterback Mike Pawlawski and the Bears built a 17-3 lead then held on to win 17-15 when the Cowboys tried and failed to convert a game-tying two-point conversion with 49 seconds left.
“Unlike Cal, we were coming from Wyoming where we had like minus-10 degree weather so we thought Tucson was fantastic.”
Chryst was Wyoming’s quarterbacks coach that year — the last time he coached at that level.
After that he began a 25-year career coaching in the NFL, including stints as offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers (1999-2000) and the 49ers (2015), but also two years as tight ends coach with the Denver Broncos (2017-18), where he worked alongside offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
Chryst will coach tight ends for the Bears this season and is reunited with Musgrave, beginning his second season in Berkeley as OC.
In an animated Zoom conversation with reporters Monday, Chryst was upbeat and enthusiastic about his new gig.
He talks in the video at the top about how he’s always maintained a connection to the college game. His dad, George, was head coach at Wisconsin-Platteville for 14 seasons. His brother Paul is 56-19 in six seasons as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.
And Chryst has two sons currently playing quarterback in college football: Keller, who transferred this offseason from Stanford to Tennessee, and Jackson Chryst at Oregon State.
“I don’t feel like I’ve missed a beat,” he said. “Trust me, I’m a college football fan.”
Chryst says he’s excited to reunite with Musgrave and expects Cal fans to see a more developed and sophisticated pro-style offense next fall.
“I love Billy and he is running an NFL-style offense, which is great for all these guys,” Chryst said. “He is not watering it down. He’s challenging them right now in the spring to learn these concepts and execute at a high level.”
Chryst talks more in the video below about how the Bears are approaching spring practice.
Chryst is greeted at Cal by seven tight ends on the roster, including veterans Collin Moore, Gavin Reinwald and Jake Tonges, but also highly rated freshman Jermaine Terry, a local product from Kennedy High in Richmond.
It was just a few years ago the Bears ran an offense that didn’t even include a tight end. As a result, they carried none on their roster.
But Musgrave’s offense will often utilize two on the field, and one or more of the older tight ends could also be asked to shift to H back or fullback at times.
“This offense is built not just for one tight end but for two tight ends to be contributors,” Chryst said. “With the second year in the offense I think for the quarterbacks predominantly — but all the players offensively — I think you can get get deeper into the playbook. You can make adjustments or corrections to it that maybe take advantage of some of the individual skills that you have on your roster.”
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo