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2017 Cotton Bowl: A Coach Comparison

Paul Chryst vs. PJ Fleck as the Badgers battle the Broncos

Wisconsin v Purdue Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When the Cotton Bowl Classic kicks off on January 2 between Wisconsin and Western Michigan, the differences in the teams’ approaches will be sizable. The Broncos bring in a high powered offensive attack with the FBS all-time leader in receiving yards. They are fast, high scoring, and capable of putting up points and putting teams away before they even know what’s happening. For Wisconsin, it’s old school power football first and solid defense that leads the way for the Badgers. It’s the age-old matchup of an unstoppable force versus an immoveable object.

That difference couldn’t be more represented in the men who call the shots as well. Badgers head man Paul Chryst is an old-school coach with decades of experience. Though an offensive minded coach, he won’t do it flashy, choosing reliable rushing over new school Air Raid tactics or read option attacks. PJ Fleck, on the other hand, is the CEO of a booming football enterprise in Kalamazoo. More face man than X’s and O’s, Fleck is the Chief Marketing Officer of a program in dire need of attention. Where Chryst is slow speaking and methodical (much like his offense), Fleck is all energy all the time (much like his). There’s meaning behind catch phrases, morals behind messages, and more than just a turn of meaningless words.

That difference was painfully obvious in the lead up to this pending game. Take Paul Chryst....

Like a million press conferences from a million different coaches like you’ve seen many times before. Now compare that with PJ Fleck...

Games aren’t won by communication styles and press conferences, but watch those two videos above and you realize why PJ Fleck is THE hot name in coaching circles. You see why his team believes in what he sells and why the Broncos went from a middling MAC team to the premier G5 team in the country.

The coaching tale of the tape...

Cotton Bowl Tale of the Tape

Stat PJ Fleck Paul Chryst
Stat PJ Fleck Paul Chryst
Age 36 51
Height 5'10" 6'2"
Playing Weight 191 215
Alma Mater Northern Illinois Wisconsin
College Position WR QB
Yrs as NFL Player 2 0
Yrs Coaching Before HC job 6 20
HC Record 30-21 39-25
HC Bowl Appearances 1-1 2-1

It’s everything you could want in a coaching matchup. Young versus old, old school versus new school, power versus pizzazz. Each have merit, but only one will win the day in Arlington on January 2.