Pitt Big Board: Part I

There are several ways that the Pittsburgh coaching search can go, we expect Steve Pederson to cast a broad net, so in this two part series we will look at a number of candidates who may be considered.

Tom Bradley - Defensive Coordinator - Penn State University

PLUS: Bradley is a tireless worker who will get the best out of his players. He is smart enough to surround himself with quality coaches who know what they are doing. He is a western Pennsylvania guy and he is still one of the top recruiters in the nation. Since Penn State has been in the Big Ten, Bradley has kept them in the conference's elite with a stellar defense. He is a solid X's and O's guy who will be able to make adjustments.

MINUS: He has only been around one system and has never been a head coach. Hard core Pitt fans will have a tough time backing a Penn State guy

My Take: Who cares where he is from and who he has coached. Penn State has been one of the best programs in the country and Pitt fans should be happy to have half the stability they have had. Bradley can take the program to the next level and he will continue to recruit the same areas that he does now. Pederson needs to think outside the box a little bit.

Larry Johnson - Defensive Line Coach - Penn State University

PLUS: Johnson has proven himself to be one of the best recruiters in the country. He has had high school experience as a head coach. Well respected by most coaches he comes in contact with.

MINUS: Hasn't been a coordinator yet. There is a big difference between being a position coach and a head coach. I think Johnson needs to step up somewhere and become a coordinator, because he could be a potential head coach down the road.

My Take: Johnson is a great guy and a terrific coach. I just don't think he is the right guy at the right time. If he were a coordinator I could see him being a viable candidate.

Paul Rhoads - Head Coach - Iowa State University

PLUS: You don't find many coaches who are wired like Paul Rhoads. The guy is intensity personified and he always seemed to have a genuine love for Pittsburgh. It's tough to beat a coach who rides a Harley wearing flip flops. Rhoads was in the running for the job when Dave Wannstedt was hired.

MINUS: Rhoads grew up ten minutes from Iowa State and would have to uproot his family for the third time in six years from Pittsburgh to Auburn to Iowa State. he is a defensive guy and Pederson ahs been known to favor offensive guys.

My Take: Rhoads is a great guy, but he seems to have a good thing going at Iowa State.

Frank Cignetti - Offensive Coordinator - University of Pittsburgh

PLUS: Cignetti has shown that he can recruit well. he has been successful everywhere he has been and he was born into football and is the son of a very successful former coach Frank Cignetti Sr., who even recruited yours truly back in the day. He could potentially help save a good class that has already been assembled at Pittsburgh. When he was brought in everyone assumed he would be the next in line.

MINUS: A lot of Pitt fans blame him for the vanilla Pro Style offense they saw this season, along with continually riding Tino Sunseri and not giving Pat Bostick a chance. There are two ways this can go with the current players, either they rally for Cignetti or they feel that Wannstedt was stabbed in the back. Either way it puts everyone in a tough spot.

My Take: Great person and a great recruiter. He has shown that he is a great offensive mind. If anyone is considered from the previous staff he would be one of two.

Greg Gattuso - Asst Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach - University of Pittsburgh

PLUS: Gattuso has head coaching experience at the high school and college level. He basically ran the Duquesne program from the ground up. He played for Joe Paterno learned a lot of his style from his days at Penn State. Very good recruiter who has landed a lot of talent. Developed more talent than any other position on the staff during his tenure, besides running backs coach David Walker. Gattuso is a Pittsburgher and that is important to the fans. The players seem very open to him being the guy.

MINUS: He wasn't a coordinator, but his past head coaching experience likely cancels that out.

My Take: He should receive an interview and consideration for the job. Great person who has done well recruiting and building relationships with high school coaches.

Dana Holgorsen - Offensive Coordinator - Oklahoma State

PLUS: Holgorsen has been successful at his previous stops at Texas Tech and Houston. He is an offensive innovator and would put people in the stands. He is a hot commodity right now.

MINUS: Would likely command more money than Pitt wants to pay. Seems like Pitt would be a stepping stone for him, but if he wins does that really matter? Has jumped around an awful lot, the program needs stability. Pitt may not have the type of players in house that he needs to run his offense, namely a big arm quarterback.

My Take: Oklahoma State should be good again next year, so Holgorsen may stay one more year and drive his stock up that much more. I can't see Pitt paying enough to make him move, but that all depends on how much he wants to be a head coach.

Teryl Austin - Defensive Coordinator - Florida

PLUS: Outstanding recruiter, most Pitt fans can remember him while at Michigan basically taking any recruit from the WPIAL that he wanted. Austin has a great reputation with local coaches and he is a former Pitt player. He has paid his dues and its his time.

MINUS: Austin has not been a head coach and he is a defensive coach.

My Take: Personally, I think of the Pitt people, Austin deserves the job. He has proven what he can do at all levels. he is a very talented recruiter and is very well respected.

Brent Venables - Defensive Coordinator - Oklahoma

PLUS: Venables has paid his dues plus some. he has been one of the top defensive minds in the game for a long time. he has had a chance to learn from Bob Stoops.

MINUS: Most would view him as taking the job as a stepping stone. He is a defensive coach.

My Take: If I'm going defensive guy I'd rather see Austin get the job.

Jim Bollman - Ohio State - Offensive Coordinator

PLUS: Bollman has NFL and college experience. He has run the spread and Pro style offenses. He has coached multiple positions on both sides of the ball. He is loyal and has been with Ohio State since 2001. Knows Ohio and can recruit it which is always a plus.

MINUS: Not the typical 30's something hot prospect, but very knowledgeable and a no nonsense type of leader

My Take: I don't think Bollman gets enough credit for the success at Ohio State and I think he'd be a good candidate.

Gus Malzahn - Auburn - Offensive Coordinator

PLUS: Malzahn may be the best offensive mind in college football right now. He has had success everywhere he has been and he fits the profile of what Pitt A.D. Steve Pederson is looking for. Offensive players would flock to Pitt to play for Malzahn.

MINUS: Probably going to command a hefty salary and may want to stay in the South. Never been a college head coach. Appears to be the front-runner for Vanderbilt job.

My Take: Should be one of the first guys to be interviewed.

Todd Orlando - Defensive Coordinator - Connecticut

PLUS: Loyalty, he has been on the UConn staff for 12 years. He is a Western Pennsylvania native and he has recruited the region the entire time he has been at UConn, so he has contacts. He is a young, fiery coach who can get the most from his players.

MINUS: He has never been a head coach. He has done well recruiting, but has never landed the truly elite kids from the area. He is a defensive coach.

My Take: Orlando is a young, up-and-coming coach who will eventually get a shot somewhere as a head coach. Pitt may elect to go with someone more proven.

Will Muschamp - Defensive Coordinator - Texas

PLUS: Muschamp has been successful everywhere he has been. He is a very solid recruiter and top defensive coordinator. he also has some NFL experience.

MINUS: He is the coach in waiting at Texas. He has never been a head coach. He is a southern guy, so he would have to move away from family and re-establish a lot of contacts and make a lot of new ones. Would likely command a lot of money. He is a defensive coach.

My Take: Seems to be in a good spot at Texas, Mack Brown is getting up there in age and with the recent struggles the Longhorns have had it could be a good time to try and lure him away.

While some of these candidates will be considered, some are just pure speculation on our part.

Panther More Top Stories