Big Board : Monday Update

Some new candidates have emerged in the search for Pitt's next head football coach, while it seems status quo remains on a few of the others.

DANA HOLGORSEN, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator
Over the last few days, there have been a whirlwind of reports about whether or not Holgorsen has indeed interviewed for the job. Such as the life of covering the ongoing search for a new head coach. With the limited ability to put sources on the record, combined with candidates either not being able to comment, or not willing to comment for obvious reasons, it makes it tough to be as concrete as possible. Such is the case with Holgorsen.

Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday that Holgorsen had been interviewed. Hours later, reported that Holgorsen had not interviewed.

There are two things known for sure about Holgorsen's whereabouts. One, is that he was at the Texas 5A semifinals at SMU's Ford Stadium. Holgorsen was there to check on Oklahoma State commits quarterback J.W. Walsh, corner Josh Stewart, and defensive end Jimmy Bean. The other part we do know, is that according to a text message sent by Pitt spokesman E.J. Borghetti, is that no candidates have been offered.

With that much we do know, we can say that Holgorsen will remain a candidate on the big board for now. He's one of the hottest names in college football, and if Pitt wants to make a splash with their next hire, this is the guy. How high he ranks on the Pitt wish list, and anything else we're just not sure of until we get some more concrete evidence of the two sides meeting. There are mixed signals being sent all over the place.

AL GOLDEN, Temple head coach
It is interesting to note, with Al Golden expected to be named head coach at Miami today--reportedly signing a five-year deal to coach the Hurricanes--and Will Muschamp taking over at Florida, that both hires have a direct impact on Pitt's hiring.

For starters, Golden was a candidate for the Pitt job. It's unclear how heavily interested he was in the Pitt job. Keep in mind, Golden was in some recruiting battles with Pitt back when he was an assistant at Penn State, most notably Rod Rutherford and Josh Lay. Penn State happened to lose both of those battles, and even though two coaching regimes have come and gone, it might be hard to shake off an impression of a school (Pitt) like that.

In reference to Muschamp, there's an outside shot that Holgorsen could also be a candidate for the Florida offensive coordinator job, despite numerous reports linking Texas running backs coach Major Applewhite to landing that position.

TOM BRADLEY, Penn State defensive coordinator
Imagine the rumbling if there was an official word about Bradley interviewing for the job, or dare we say he takes the job if offered. Because of the fact that he interviewed last time, and has a genuine respect for the Pitt program, he will remain a candidate.

The biggest obstacle with Bradley, is simply the fact he has been at Penn State for 32 years. That's a long time to be at one place, especially with what he has meant to that program. Being there for so long, that's a hefty decision to have to make, to up and leave--especially making the move to another in-state school like Pitt. If he were to interview, be offered and hired at Pitt, it would have to rank among one of the biggest marks in the lengthy history between the two schools, even though the two teams haven't played for a whole decade.

MIKE HAYWOOD, Miami (OH) head coach A first, there is a link between Miami of Florida and Miami of Ohio; with one Pitt candidate is expected to take the Miami job, while the other is the head coach of the other Miami.

Before capturing a MAC championship in his first year, Haywood took a Miami team that went 2-10 and 1-11 in each of the previous two seasons, to a 7-4 regular-season record, 6-1 in conference games. That in itself was impressive, before his team did the unthinkable in the MAC Championship game. Against a nationally-ranked Northern Illinois team--a team that beat Temple earlier this season, who beat Big East champ UConn--the RedHawks captured the MAC Championship game in the final seconds, earning themselves a trip to the bowl in Mobile, Alabama, which will be played two days prior to the BBVA Compass Bowl involving Pitt and Kentucky.

Panther Digest learned Sunday night that Haywood has interviewed for the job. With Golden out of the running, the Panthers are looking at another coach with head-coaching experience including proven experience to coach teams up, in the process of rebuilding them. Haywood fits the bill there.

BRADY HOKE, San Diego State
Panther Digest also learned on Sunday night that Brady Hoke has become a candidate. He has not been interviewed for the job, but is expected to interview sometime this week. Hoke recently signed a two-year contract at San Diego State, where he took the Aztecs from a 4-8 record in his first year in 2009, to a 8-4 record this past season. The Aztecs will play in the Poinsettia Bowl against Navy on December 23. Hoke's two-year contract extenstion now runs through 2015. With the raise, he will make just over $1 million per season. Hoke's buyout is at $1.5 million.

Hoke is probably a longshot, especially considering the buyout options attached to his contract. In addition, Hoke will become a strong candidate at Michigan, if that job were to open this year or next. Still, it's worth noting that he is scheduled to interview at Pitt, and what that means to the hiring process.

FRANK CIGNETTI JR., Pitt offensive coordinator
Cignetti has drummed up a lot of support from Pitt's current commits. He also has some strong support from a lot of the WPIAL coaches (which we will have a separate article on later today), and some support from some Pitt players in the NFL. Cignetti would likely keep a majority of Pitt's current staff in place, and would also keep the 2011 recruiting class intact.

Last week at the press conference to announce Dave Wannstedt's dismissal, Steve Pederson did not rule out an assistant from Pitt's current staff being interviewed. Cignetti appears to be the most obvious among the current staff to be interviewed. That interview has yet to take place.

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