Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There's a lot to blame Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson for where the discombobulated state of his football program is concerned. But at least it sounds like he's got a plan in the wake of Todd Graham's stunning departure.
And according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the first name mentioned as part of that plan is Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. The Post-Gazette reported Friday that Rhoads "appears to be the most coveted of the group [of potential candidates] as ... Pederson and chancellor Mark Nordenberg like and respect him and think he is an excellent football coach."
A former Panther defensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt who spent eight seasons on the Pitt staff, Rhoads declined to speak to Pederson following Wannstedt's firing in 2010 out of loyalty to the Cyclones. But "according to two people close to Rhoads" who spoke to the Post-Gaztte, this time around Rhoads would be willing to sit down with Pitt and "likely will talk with the administration" regarding the opening.
UPDATE, 12:45 ET: Actually, you can probably forget the Rhoads talk; ISU announced Friday that Rhoads had signed a 10-year contract extension with the school.
With Rhoads presumably off the table, the focus will turn towards who the Post-Gazette reports is also on the Panthers' potential list of candidates: Ohio State assistant/2010 head coach Luke Fickell, Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren and former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook. Pederson reportedly feels strongly enough in that pool of candidates that the school is forgoing the use of a search committee.
Fickell has reportedly already interviewed, with Chryst due to interview this Saturday. Given the upheaval around him in Columbus, Fickell may be the leading candidate until further notice.