Paul Chryst, Barry Alvarez Discuss Potential of Spring Football, Eligibility

Jake Kocorowski

Check Paul Chryst's coaching resume. He's been places.

From the CFL to the NFL, back to the college ranks and now leads his alma mater's football program. One destination that was called out during Tuesday's calls was his early days in the World League of American Football (WLAF) as the running back/tight ends coach of the San Antonio Riders from 1991-92.

Why does that come in handy now? On Tuesday, the Big Ten officially dropped the hammer on its fall sports schedule in declaring its postponement. A glimmer of hope in the conference's statement, however, noted that it "will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring."

On that topic of a potential spring season, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez stated that he looks to Chryst "as a resource," as he does not know anyone else who has played or coached in a league that started that early in a calendar year.

"(Chryst) said two full seasons back-to-back is too much," Alvarez said on Tuesday via a Zoom call with reporters. "So taking that into consideration, my natural thinking is six, eight games, something like that if you do something in the spring."

A little later on Tuesday afternoon, Chryst received his chance to chat with the media. When asked about the subject, he noted he has concerns and reiterated what Alvarez stated.

"To me, it's hard to play two seasons in one year," Chryst said via a Zoom availability session with reporters.

Chryst remembered how some players that played in a 10-game WLAF schedule then went on to play in the NFL.

"I've been a part of, in the NFL and the CFL, we have just long seasons in general," Chryst said. "The rookie wall is real for first and maybe even some second-year players, right? It's just a long time, and I think that it's just something that you've got to address and bring up, and I think there's some ways you could do it that they kind of can relieve some of that. I think there's a lot of things we can talk about that I think can provide some interaction but not have to do like a full season or even like a shortened season. Those would be interesting discussions."

A couple of Badgers -- safety Eric Burrell and cornerback Faion Hicks -- voiced their opinions via social media on Tuesday on potentially playing two seasons.

As of Tuesday afternoon, both Alvarez and Chryst stated that there has not been much talk yet about a potential spring season. From the latter's vantage point, the first thing one has to answer is how you want the fall to look like.

Chryst admitted he has not "done enough study or research," but he believes playing "16, 18 games is a lot of games." In the Big Ten's case, he cited the weather and what a potential window could be. If the conference goes into April or May, then in his opinion the fall season would not have a normal start time.

As he believes the two potential seasons "have to be tied together," Chryst thinks there are some things they could do during the spring.

"You can do some games against other opponents, almost like preseason games in the NFL and play against some teams that you've never played against before and have great matchups," Chryst said. "I think it'd be a great opportunity for your kids to be able to play young kids, to go up against good ones, for good players to play against other good players. Heck, even just playing in a stadium that you never would have played in before.

"I know it's the spring, but I think there's a lot of things that you need to unpack on it. But I think the starting point to spring ball is, how do you want the fall to look like?"

There is also the important discussion of what eligibility would be for a potential spring season. Chryst stated the "eligibility concern was big" with his college athletes and that they "don't want to waste a year" or an opportunity.

The head coach said in conversations where the question asked was "what is a good number that you say that was a good season to you?" 

Alvarez said that a Wednesday meeting would involve talking about eligibility.

"Again, spring season really hasn't even been discussed, so how many games it would be to count towards eligibility, and I know where you're getting at," Alvarez said. "If you only play a short season, is it worth a year of eligibility? All those things are good questions and things that are going to have to be answered."