Brian Crist, who has coached in a pair of FCS National Championship Games, is in his fifth season as a member of the Penguins’ coaching. Crist has coached on the collegiate level for nearly 25 years, more than half of which been at the FCS level.
In 2018, he took over duties as YSU's Offensive Coordinator after spending his first three years with the program as wide receivers coach.
Last year, TB Tevin McCaster thrived in Crist's system. McCaster rushed for a career-best 1,235 yards in his final year with the program. He had seven 100-yard rushing games on the season and was a first-team All-MVFC selection. Offensive linemen Gavin Wiggins and Vitas Hrynkiewicz received all-league accolades as well. Wiggins was a first-team honoree while Hyrnkiewicz was on the second-team. Redshirt freshman tight end Miles Joiner stepped up to lead the team with four touchdown catches. QB Montgomery VanGorder passed for 1,934 yards while he and Nathan Mays combined for 432 yards rushing.
As a unit, YSU had more than 400 yards of total offense and rushed for more than 191 yards on six occasions in 2018. The Penguins set a school record for passing yards in a game on Sept. 29 when they threw for 418 yards at Western Illinois. YSU had seven 200-plus yard passing efforts for the year as well while throwing a touchdown pass in 10 of 11 contests.
In 2016, Crist's diverse wide receiver group helped the Penguins get to their first National Championship Game since 1999.
The group had a solid season from the outset and were key contributors in YSU's postseason run.
Three of the top four wide receivers were not with the program in 2015. Leading the way was Florida transfer Alvin Bailey who caught 47 passes for 511 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns. Darien Townsend had a breakout year with 32 receptions for a team-leading 525 yards and four touchdowns. Damoun Patterson was a deep threat for YSU averaging a school-record 24.2 yards per catch.
In the playoffs the wide outs had a breakout game with receptions of 85, 70, 50 and 38 yards against Jacksonville State in the second round. In the postseason, Bailey caught 25 of his 47 passes while Townsend and Patterson combined for 16 grabs and three touchdowns. A total of seven different wide receivers caught a pass in the playoffs while five had touchdowns.
Patterson and Bailey were the Penguins' playmakers in 2017. Both wideouts had 32 receptions each as Patterson had 555 yards and four scores while Bailey had 424 and a pair of TDs. In MVFC games, the duo had 48 receptions and all six touchdowns. Senior Stefan Derrick had a strong campaign with 16 receptions. Samuel St. Surin had two TD catches while Jermiah Braswell added a score. As a whole, wide receivers had 89 catches in 2017.
In May, Patterson signed as a undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers following an invitation to the team's rookie mini camp.
In 2015, the YSU wide receivers featured a strong senior duo in Andre Stubbs and Andrew Williams. Stubbs had the best year of his Penguins career with a team-high 38 receptions for 479 yards and three touchdowns. Williams caught 33 passes for 575 yards and had a team-best five touchdown receptions.
Stubbs had a pair of 100-yard performances finishing with 147 at Pittsburgh and 129 at Western Illinois. Williams also had 100-yard contests at Southern Illinois and against Missouri State. Both showed their big play ability as Stubbs had a 77-yard score at Pittsburgh while Williams had an 85-yard score at Southern Illinois and a 72-yard touchdown vs. Missouri State.
Williams ended his career as one of only two players in school history with more than 2,300 receiving yards, 16 touchdown catches and at least 140 receptions. Jim Ferranti (1976-79) was the only other Penguin to accomplish the feat. Stubbs finished his career ranked ninth in receptions and 15th in yards.
Crist served as the director of player personnel on Coach Bo Pelini’s staff at Nebraska in 2014.
Before going to Nebraska, Crist spent the 2013 campaign coaching the wide receivers at Bridgewater College in Virginia.
A seasoned FCS coach, he spent 10 seasons at UMass during two different coaching stops. Highlighting his tenure with the Minutemen was winning the FCS National Championship in 1998.
He was a member of the staff 1996-2001 and 2007-10 in Amherst, working with UMass’s quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and special teams units. UMass won Atlantic 10 titles in 1998 and 1999 while earning a CAA Championship in 2007. The program appeared in the FCS playoffs three times, and, advanced to at least the quarterfinals every time it reached the postseason.
In 1998, the Minutemen defeated McNeese State, Lehigh, Northwestern State before knocking off Georgia Southern 55-43 in the National Championship Game in Chattanooga. The squad posted a 12-3 record and won the Atlantic 10 title. Prior to their impressive postseason run, UMass had not won an FCS playoff game since 1978 and had not advanced to the postseason since 1990.
The next year the program claimed its second consecutive A-10 crown and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals to cap a 9-4 campaign.
Upon his return to UMass in 2007, the program again reached the FCS quarterfinals, won the inaugural Colonial Athletic Association title and finished with a 10-3 record, including a 7-1 league mark. In his second stint coaching the Minutemen wide receivers, Crist coached New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
In 2007, UMass had two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season for the first time in history with J.J. Moore and Rasheed Rancher. In 2008, Cruz, an All-American, led the CAA in receptions with 71 and hauled in catches for 1,064 yards, the most per game in the league (88.7). All-CAA pick Jeremy Horne narrowly missed the 1,000-yard plateau with 895. The 2010 season saw another dynamic receiving duo as Anthony Nelson and Julian Talley continued to develop into one of the Minutemen's most gifted wideouts.Both earned all-conference accolades as the pair combined for over 100 receptions. Nelson recorded 830 yards and four touchdowns, while Talley was just behind with 747 yards and a team-best six touchdown catches.
In 1998, Crist helped Kerry Taylor develop into one of the nation's top tight ends, with Taylor catching 74 passes for 854yards and earning first team All-America honors. In 1999,Crist guided Sean Higgins to a season where he caught 51 passes for 615 yards and was named a first team All-American. Crist coached both wide receivers and tight ends during his first two seasons and helped revive the UMass passing game that ranked last in the nation in 1995.
In between stints with the Minutemen, Crist spent five years working with the wide receivers at Louisiana-Lafayette from 2002-06. In his final two seasons, Crist served as the Ragin’Cajuns passing game coordinator.
During his time with Louisiana-Lafayette, he helped guide the program to the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Championship. He also aided in leading the Ragin' Cajuns to back-to-back six-win seasons,the first time in over 10 years for the team to do so. He coached the school's second all-time leading receiver in yards and receptions. He tutored three of the top seven leading receivers in school history as well as working with all-conference receivers in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
His first coaching position was as an offensive graduate assistant at Virginia Tech in 1994 and 1995. In 1995, he helped Virginia Tech post a 10-2 record and claim a piece of the Big East Conference regular-season championship for Head Coach Frank Beamer.The Hokies went on to record a 28-10 victory over Texas in the Nokia Sugar Bowl on New Year's Eve and concluded the season ranked 10th in the final Associated Press national poll.
Crist earned his bachelor’s degree in economics with math from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia in 1994.
He and his wife, Amy, have four children, Jackson, Ali, Caroline and Logan.