The immediate aftermath of the Rose Bowl has been dominated by one main topic where the University of Wisconsin football program is concerned.
How many holes will UW coach Bret Bielema need to fill on his staff?
It's looking more and more like the losses will be minimal, although it's too early to make a definitive call.
"You just don't know in this business," UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said Wednesday.
Most of the speculation has revolved around offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, whose reputation has become so pronounced he has been pursued for prime jobs in the NFL and three schools in Bowl Championship Series conferences in the past few weeks.
Alvarez said two NFL clubs — Dallas and San Francisco — asked for permission to speak with Chryst about openings on their staffs.
Chryst has friendly relationships with both coaches: Jason Garrett with the Cowboys and Jim Harbaugh with the 49ers.
Chryst also interviewed for head coaching jobs at Minnesota (Big Ten Conference) and Pittsburgh (Big East Conference) and was offered the job of offensive coordinator at Texas (Big 12 Conference).
"I think what's good is people have recognized he does a good job," Alvarez said of Chryst, who has been at his alma mater since 2005 and orchestrated one of the highest-scoring units in the nation last season. "I don't think he's actively pursing them. People are coming after him and talking to him."
Alvarez, who coached the Badgers for 16 Hall of Fame seasons starting in 1990, hired Chryst as his co-offensive coordinator in '05.
"I've had other people call me about him," Alvarez said. "Other schools that he wasn't interested in and jobs he could have gotten."
It sure looks like Chryst is staying put.
Reports out of Texas said Chryst was offered a salary more than three times his current base payout of $305,000 — he and his family were flown to the campus in Austin the day after the Badgers endured a 21-19 loss to Texas Christian in the Rose Bowl — but a source said the family voted not to take the job.
"We're fortunate to keep him," Alvarez said.
Chryst is a Madison native. He and his wife, Robin, have three school-age children.
"I think Paul's happy here," Alvarez said. "I think when you have kids in school, that's always a factor. That's maybe the No. 1 factor. I sense that might be a factor for Paul."
Alvarez, who hired Bielema, declined to get into specifics about pending contract upgrades for Bielema and Chryst until after the UW Board of Regents weighs in on them next month.
Bielema was paid $1.7 million last season — $400,000 by the UW Athletic Department and the rest from donations to the UW Foundation — and is expected to get a bump to around $2.5 million.
Chryst is expected to get a six-figure raise to just over $400,000 for his base salary. He also has a five-year annuity, which went into effect in 2007, that will pay him $250,000 once he finishes the 2011 season.
"I want to keep Paul here," Alvarez said. "I just think we have a very good coach and you want to do what you can within reason to keep him."
After the Badgers claimed a share of the Big Ten Conference title and earned a berth in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1999, Alvarez pledged he would help Bielema by upgrading the salaries of his assistant coaches.
Alvarez said he's given Bielema a pool of unspecified funds "to use as he sees fit" in augmenting the payouts for his staff.
Bielema lost defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Dave Doeren, who left to become the head coach at Northern Illinois.
Earlier this week, Bielema announced secondary coach Chris Ash and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge were promoted to co-defensive coordinators.
Dave Huxtable, the defensive coordinator at South Florida for the past three seasons, was hired to coach linebackers.
UW offensive line coach Bob Bostad, whose unit received raves reviews for its talent, depth and effectiveness, has been courted by other schools, most notably Texas.
But sources indicate Bostad is likely to return and will get a significant bump from his current salary of $196,950.
Alvarez said he made note of the fact that coordinator salaries at other colleges have pushed beyond the $1 million plateau.
"It's more and more frequent now," he said. "Where does it stop? It's very competitive. If you don't pay (coordinators) well, (other schools) are going to come after them if you have good people."
Alvarez was asked how he balances the upgrades for UW football when the athletic department is budgeting for another round of state-mandated furloughs and no raises in 2011-12.
"I think everybody in this department has to understand who butters our bread," he said. "We wouldn't have as many employees and all the sports wouldn't have the budgets they have if we're not successful in football, (men's) basketball and (men's) hockey. I think we're smart enough to figure that out."