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December 19, 2011

Maybe Mario

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:28 am

Sorry, kind of had to take a “if you go near the computer I will kill you” day on orders from the wife. Something about the way I have ignored everyone and everything since Wednesday. Has it really only been since Wednesday around noon when all this craziness started? Seems so much longer.

Anyways, by all accounts Mario Cristobal is anywhere from the leading candidate to a done deal (h/t to Scott and several others) — but for the bowl game.

We have learned that Pitt offered the job to Mario Cristobal last night. Cristobal, we are told, asked that they pause the discussions until after FIU’s bowl game (Tuesday night). Class move.

Yes, see how well that worked out for John L. Smith and Louisville when the ESPN crawl announced he was leaving for Michigan St. during the Cards bowl game.

Of course, on Friday many had Luke Fickell the interim HC of Ohio State — also their once and maybe future DC — as being the leader in the clubhouse.

Fickell has interviewed, and just seems to be trying to keep all bridges intact.

Unless he takes the Pitt job, Fickell will return to being a Buckeyes assistant coach. Meyer said this week that Fickell will call the defensive signals, though there has not been a formal announcement that Fickell will be the defensive coordinator.

Fickell said that the last few days have been a blur and that a timetable for resolution is unclear.

“A lot of things going on,” Fickell said. “I don’t know anything more than that. I don’t know where they are or what they want to do. They’ve at least mentioned (the job) and reached out a little bit.

“But I don’t know what the situation really is. I’m not sure where they want to go yet. I don’t know what their timetable is.”

Fickell acknowledged that he spoke with Pederson “maybe Thursday.”

On Friday, Fickell was in Hershey, Pa., along with Meyer and OSU linebackers coach Mike Vrabel to see elite prospect Noah Spence play in his high school state championship game.

When Fickell accepted Meyer’s offer to be on his staff, he said he hadn’t given up on his goal to be a head coach again someday.

Noah Spence, by the way, just committed to the Buckeyes.

Paul Chryst the Wisconsin OC is known to have interviewed but went with the standard “no comment.” Chryst seems to be the distant third choice based on the buzz. That makes sense. Chryst has a lot of support from Wisconsin folks to get the job — but they would also be happy to keep him. Chryst, though, has absolutely zero reputation with recruiting. With some reports suggesting a disdain for it.

I sympathize, because recruiting does seem like an absolutely miserable thing. But it is absolutely what a head coach must do, and want to do. Luke Fickell is a really good recruiter, as is Mario Cristobal who gets labeled as “relentless” and “tireless” even by the AD at rival FAU.

Cristobal would be my first choice. He’s done a good job winning at FIU — where no one had before. He has a solid resume as an assistant and as a recruiter. He has recruited for Miami and he’s recruited for Rutgers. Plus, with Pitt’s looming move to the ACC, hiring a coach that has stronger recruiting ties in the southeast seems more logical.

Fickell wouldn’t be bad in my mind either. No question he would help in the local recruiting battles (see, Noah Spence), and he would keep Ohio State a little off-balance. When Urban Meyer came to Florida there was one assistant he held over from the Ron Zook era. A defensive coach who was considered the best recruiter on the staff — Charlie Strong.

You always worry about stepping stones but the same could be said for Luke Fickell if another Big 10 job opened up in a few years. The fact is, Pitt can’t let the fear of a coach leaving for another job be an overriding concern. There has to be some sort of faith.





I think the stepping stones fear is fair, but someone, maybe Dokish, recently pointed out that relatively few (like 20 or so) current D-1 coaches have been at their school for 5 years. The carousel just happens for lots of reasons. I also think that the Pitt job is more attractive with the switch to the ACC. Better conference, more exposure, more money for recruiting (okay, I assume that) so that a guy like Cristobal might hang around for more than a season. But if he makes Pitt football relevant again, and leaves for Florida or Miami, okay with me.

Comment by velvil 12.19.11 @ 8:41 am

Would like hire of Mario as long as Golden is solid @UM. Could not see him going to FSU or UF, they would not want UM man. Being alum of UM and Pitt I have had a couple tough years, think this hire would put both on right track.

Comment by Jimbo 12.19.11 @ 8:45 am

Not a love for Chryst on these boards. My preference is actually in reverse. I really think an x and o guy like Chryst can stablize this Pitt offense. I think between his Wisc. ties and anyone currently linked to Pitt (Austin maybe?), he can find some good defensive minds.

Maybe recruiting will get hurt, maybe not. Personally, I just want to see a really well coached product above all else. If the talent level dips, so be it. Good coaching will right the ship eventually.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 8:49 am

Chryst or Cristobal looks like a good choice. Any chance we can get that Mutual Beneficial ad as the permanant ball girl?

Lets just get a committted coach for god’s sake!

HTP

Comment by Pitt it IS 12.19.11 @ 9:00 am

You win with good players. So recruiting has to be a concern. A good X & Os guy is nice to have, but he will look a lot smarter if he has talent to fill those positions on his charts.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 9:04 am

Still no link to a pic of the

Mutual Beneficial ad girl

How about helping a guy out?

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.19.11 @ 9:19 am

I would rather have a great rucruiter in a head coach. The assistants are supposed to be the teachers. Although we did see some crappy game calling by the Wanny offenses in the past and I won’t even start chatting about this past years game calling. Im sorta torn on all three. I actually like them all for their own reasons.

I like these three candidates much better than the past. I have even grown on Austin, although he seems like far fetch now.

Don’t forget that if Chryst gets hired he hires his own staff. He may not even know who Austin is. So to say Chryst would hire Austin as a defense coordinator is not on target. He will hire his guy!

I tink personally I like Fickell, Cristobal, and then Chryst. College game is built with personel first and therefore you need a guy that likes to hit the streets.

Anyword on Tony Dorsett and alumni coaching the bowl game? What is the latest on that? I know one thing,television ratings would be sky high if Tony was head coach, Marino as the “O” and maybe Hugh Green as “D.” That would be sweet!

Comment by QuipScript 12.19.11 @ 9:25 am

The more I hear about Cristobal the better he sounds. The only problem that I see, is that he’s in play with both Pitt and Penn State. I have no idea where he stands on Penn State’s wish list. I guess we’ll know on Wednesday.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 9:27 am

Google is smart enough that the only people who get to see the Mutual Benefits ad are the ones whose tmp files are filled with cookies from porno sites. Like mine.

Comment by Todd Gack 12.19.11 @ 9:35 am

Mark my words, Cristobal would be a big mistake for Pitt.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.19.11 @ 9:38 am

Coach Dika, None of these guys are a sure thing. Who knows with any of them? We’re just debating which of the 3 coaching canidates that we THINK may be the best hire.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 9:44 am

I really hope Austin gets brought in somehow. It would definitely alleviate some concerns with the next HC bolting if you have a guy waiting in the wings.

I don’t think the level of talent dips significantly with Chryst, though. The assistants do most of the recruiting, so the fact that Wisc. has been able to pull in solid OL and RBs over the years should be okay. It definitely translates well to W. PA.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 9:45 am

@ Justinian: just throwing in my two cents. Cristobal is not the man for the job. He’s getting a lot of hype but I dont see him as a good fit right now. I think we need a seasoned guy from a big time program that fits better locally. I also think we need someone that can bring in a strong staff of assistants and coordinators. My guess is most of Cristobals staff would come with him. Do we really want the entire FIU coaching staff???

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.19.11 @ 9:50 am

Your right about assistants doing most of the recruiting but at Pitt they all have to do it. Unlike Joe Pa, the Pitt head coach must go door to door. I would bet that most of ther o-line that has been brought in are from right there in-state. Its an easy sell if your the recruiter for Wisconsin. They have a bigger line than the Green bay packers for crying out loud!

I really just want them to name a guy and get it over with. Sorry, but im in a hurry! hahah Dont want to lose any of recruits and there is still time to bring in some new kids.

Comment by QuipScript 12.19.11 @ 9:54 am

The PSU rumor is just that. A rumor sent out by either MC’s agent to stir the pot in contract negotiations or by PSU to say we are still relevant and also to say screw Pitt. Why any established or up and coming coach would go PSU is beyond me due to the current and hopefully future Toxicity up in Crappy Valley.

As for Chryst, the man is 46 years old and never had a HC job…….enough said.

As for Fickell, there is a man-crush on him, Chryst as well, because he comes from the the Big 10. One year HC because they needed a temporary interim HC from the current staff because they were going to lay the Benjamins down on Meyer.

Mario is a good fit first and foremost because he comes from ACC territory with the attendant recruiting connections. He has HC experience. He is a quality person. Those qualities would serve Pitt well. He fits this job better. Here is to hoping that he is introduced Wednesday….

Comment by Kenny 12.19.11 @ 9:55 am

chryst recruits the QB position specifically. kinda a need at pitt these days, no??

Comment by scott 12.19.11 @ 9:56 am

Whether it Cristobal, Fickell, Chryst, or someone else who we don’t yet know about, I’ll hope he does well. There are pros and cons to each of the three.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 10:05 am

Yeah, I’m sure we’ll all regret when our guy is okay, and someone from this list is doing an amazing job elsewhere (ie. Bo Pelini)

Pessimism aside, this hire needs to get done in the next few days. Can’t wait.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 10:09 am

Mario is another Graham, little major college coaching experience at the coordinator level. Coming from a small conference with moderate success but supposedly a good recruiter.
Unfortunately this is not Florida.
Pitt ought to stop looking for the young magic man and go with a coach who has recruited players from araes of the country that are similiar. Also players that are use to a system they played in H.S. no more weak link offenses that did not work and will not work here.

Bring in a coach who the players can respect not because he is outspoken but because he has been part of a winning program that is similiar to Pitt’s.

The Wisconsin OC fits this description perfectly and Pitt would not have to take a chance on another might be coach who most likely will never be.

My guess is they wil take the road not taken again by anyone else and bring in another “dynamic” coach who will be over his head.
Why not Graham was going to take us to the bottom if he stayed why not let this kid do it instead.

Comment by DRW 12.19.11 @ 10:10 am

while Cristobal may well be the man, and no announcement will be made until after the bowl game tomorrow night … another possibility exists (I hope). Terryl Austin, who was not available (being the Ravens played at SD last night) will be interviewed today

Comment by wbb 12.19.11 @ 10:19 am

I am lobbying for Cryst w/ a little Bradley mixed in as DC. That would be a hell of a tandum. Anyone who is turning their nose to Bradley is doing so just because they are PSU haters. The guy has been class since the day he arrived on campus and will remain so until the day the BOT of PSU says thanks but no thanks. Bradley knows he is in no position to get a HC job, I think he would jump at the opportunity to stay local and retain a top coordinator position.

Comment by Todd Gack 12.19.11 @ 10:22 am

The trouble we have had since Wannstadt was canned!! Was it really worth it? I am beginning to think not. From mediocrity with a chance to get lucky some year to a possibly far far worse state! Ugh!!

Comment by pitt1972 12.19.11 @ 10:29 am

i agree w/ drw. would prefer someone from a big time, winning program. chryst or fickell fit that bill.

Comment by scott 12.19.11 @ 10:31 am

Nothing special about FIU’s staff. They do appear to be younger than most. That could be a benefit by bringing enthusiasm and energy to the program.

link to fiusports.com

Comment by Why me 12.19.11 @ 10:31 am

Wait…do you think the Raven’s poor defensive showing last night has anything to do that Teryl Austin was preoccupied with the interview for the Pitt job?

Seriously though… Here’s how I see it breaking down:

1st. Cristobal – He’s got some HC experience and can pretty much bring his staff with him. This allows him to focus on the most important thing first, saving the recruiting class. I totally agree that his wife will hate Pittsburgh. But who knows, maybe she’ll stay in Miami during the week and they’ll meet up on weekends or something. Anyway, he does, unlike Graham seem like a man of honor, but regardless, he’s a 3-4 year solution, tops.

2nd. Fickell – Has a year of HC experience but really hasn’t been through an entire full year of recruiting / coaching / running the show. What’s his plan for assembling a staff? Does he have people that he can put in place. Realistically his first couple of years he will be learning on the job. He’d be a fixture here though until Ohio State came calling, most likely.

3red. Chryst – Solid. Dependable. Unspectacular. His predecessor at Wisconsin isn’t going anywhere. Hell, we’d be like a farm team for Wisconsin’s head coach in training. He’s been in the game a while, so he probably has people he can put in place quickly as coordinators. Honestly, his solid nature seems like just the right counterbalance to Steve P’s erraticims. And this is probably why he won’t get hired. It also may be why he may not want to leave Wisconsin.

4. Teryl Austin. He’s the backup plan. There is a chance that Crisobal won’t accept. There is a chance that Fickell won’t accept. There is a chance that Chryst doesn’t want to leave. Well, then what? Pitt man. That’s what.

Comment by Baltimore in '84 12.19.11 @ 10:33 am

DRW, I agree. This hire needs to come with as little risk as possible. Cristobal is a big risk.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.19.11 @ 10:33 am

Well, we could hire Johnny Majors or Jackie Sherrill. No risk there; we know what we’ll get.

Comment by velvil 12.19.11 @ 10:40 am

@ nabil, “Maybe recruiting will get hurt, maybe not. Personally, I just want to see a really well coached product above all else. If the talent level dips, so be it. Good coaching will right the ship eventually.”

Lemme rephrase your comment so as to ensure I have it straight. You don’t mind if we continue with weak scatter-armed QBs and players a step slower than the opponent as long as they demonstrate proper technique? Sounds like guaranteed mediocrity (or worse)!

Dude, in CFB recruiting is EVERYthing. Or rather, it’s the only thing.

The LAST thing we need is a guy like Chryst who won’t go anywhere becuase no other team wants him.

HTP

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 12.19.11 @ 11:11 am

I agree with all of you saying we can’t choose someone who is a “risk.” Like someone who might leave too soon. Like someone with limited head coaching experience. Like someone who can’t recruit and has no personality.

So… who exactly can we hire again?

Comment by JW 12.19.11 @ 11:24 am

Please DRW, Chryst has the charisma of a potato, HC experience of me (none) and also screw the Big 10 and their coaches we are going to the ACC. “Oh Chryst/Fickell must be good they are from the Big 10 and even though they don’t recruit ACC territory because they are from premium Big 10 programs they will excel recruiting the ACC territory.” FREAKIN MALARKEY!!!

Comment by Kenny 12.19.11 @ 11:27 am

Well obviously there are two extremes in that scenario. You can have an extremely talented, poorly coached team, or the other way around.

I’m saying there could be an initial dip in recruiting rankings (#30-35 range), but a well coached team could straighten that out in the long run. I look at Pitt Bball as a good example of that.

If there is one thing Chryst CAN recruit, it is QBs. See Bart Houston, Russell Wilson or Scott Tolzien.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 11:29 am

JW everyone comes with a risk but the idea is try to minimize risk. In my opinion, Cristobal is the biggest gamble on the board.

Seriously who cares about personality? Bill Belichik is about the biggest douche alive and yet hes a Hall of Fame coach. Chuck Knoll wasnt exactly warm and fuzzy. And hell JoePa isnt exactly Mr Personality either. We need a coach not an actor. And even more importantly we need someone that can bring in a good solid staff.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.19.11 @ 11:31 am

Needless to say I agree with “THE COACH!” Coaching is not a beauty pagent it is like all management positions, building a solid staff and delegating to them and motivating your charges not with hollow speeches but by gaining their respect.

No team of the three that these coaches are presently involved with has been more successful than Wisconsin. Who in the ACC could beat Wisconsin this year or over the last five years.

Please put to rest the the triple option, HO, 5 yard pass offense. Pitt has been and will always been a running back oriented offense, with players in the recruiting area to build strong offensive and defensive lines.

I also would like to see what Chyrst could do with a strong arm physically large pro-style QB. We all now know Grahams character and the argument that if Myers was better he would have been playing now rings shallow.

Comment by DRW 12.19.11 @ 11:51 am

I’m a little surprised at the amount of vitriol aimed at particular candidates. From my perspective, all three finalists (if, in fact, that is what they are) are pretty strong candidates, something that I couldn’t say during last year’s searches. Although I have my personal favorite, I’d be happy with any of them. The key at this point is that Pitt needs to make this hire ASAP. The longer this drags on, the more likely that something gets screwed up and they don’t get any of these guys.

Comment by Pantherman13 12.19.11 @ 12:08 pm

How do we know we’re not getting into another wife situation here? Cristobal’s wife is very involved in Southern Florida cultural life and charities. Even moving to Houston would be culture shock for a Southern Floridian. How will the wife cope in the ‘burgh?

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.19.11 @ 12:21 pm

I agree with Pantherman13. Each of the 3 have strengths and weaknesses. I have a favorite but Pitt needs to make a decision and close the deal this week.

Comment by Houston Panther 12.19.11 @ 12:24 pm

Just think of this Fickell could bring the whole ohio state staff to pitt if he wants becuse Urban will hire his own staff and cut the old ohio state staff lose.
but i think it is cristobal but who ever it is i want him before penn state picks theres

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 12:26 pm

@TonyinHouston
If MC gets the offer the Cristobals should consider the change of cultures. I believe that they are honorable people we are not talking about the Grahams. He is not likely to get a similar opportunity without moving.

Comment by Houston Panther 12.19.11 @ 12:28 pm

Chryst just sounds like Walt Harris “The Sequel” to me. I liked Harris when he was here, but if Pitt liked Harris so much we would still have Harris as coach.

I like Cristobal at this point. Sounds like the best candidate to me. It is more important to win games than keep a coach for infinity. Win games, and if the coach leaves there will be another good coach around the corner happy to take the job. I understand the concerns voiced about Cristobal’s wife, but would we really even be talking about that had the Todd Graham/Penni situation not just happened? Let Cristobal worry about his wife, we should be worrying about the Pitt football team. This concern over the wife thing assumes that Cristobal=Graham, and his wife=Penni. From all accounts that is not the case. Not all people are selfish.

Comment by JCE 12.19.11 @ 12:37 pm

Given Pitt’s success lately in hiring head football coach’s, I’m hoping that whoever is hired will be: young, smart, detail oriented, competitive and stay at Pitt at least four years. I know this is asking a lot in finding a quality head football coach these days but that’s my wish list.

I don’t care if the person has no head coaching experience as long as he has the above mentioned qualities. Let’s hope Pitt gets lucky this time in finding a replacement for Todd Graham.

HTP!

Comment by MariettaMike 12.19.11 @ 12:45 pm

How is Fickell seasoned after on year as a head coach of a dysfunctional season? Cristobal is seasoned with 5 years of head coaching experience and has a bigger reputation of a recruiter than Fickell does…and he plays a style that will fit well in the ACC.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.19.11 @ 12:53 pm

Amazing people downplaying Wisconsin and Chryst…maybe the guy is a social zero, maybe not, but how can you argue vs 47 pts a game in the Big Ten! That’s tremendous…and he runs pro-style and doesn’t rely on horsesh#t hurry up bush league stuff…If FIU averaged 47 a game in the SEC, then I’d say slam dunk, but why the rush for this guy who we know so little about? Maybe he’s great but don’t downplay what Wisconsin has done the past 4-5 years — and they spanked PSU handily on more than one occasion, so you gotta dig that. I wish Keeler had gotten a closer look.

Comment by Matt N. 12.19.11 @ 12:56 pm

Wow, i thought the number should have been higher.

Arizona State chief operating officer Steve Patterson said there is a $1 million buyout of Graham’s contract.

Read more: Pitt tries to refute speculation on new coach – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review link to pittsburghlive.com

Comment by Why me 12.19.11 @ 1:06 pm

Why me — …million dollar buyout…

Aren’t Peterson and Graham close friends? The buyout in Graham’s contract should have, at least been, Graham’s annual salary plus the costs to Pitt of finding a replacement for Graham’s position (at least a million dollars). Peterson does not impress me as an AD.

Given Peterson’s poor track record of hiring football coaches, I have little confidence that he will find a quality replacement for Graham. And there are many qualified people out there looking to come to Pitt. HTP!

Comment by MariettaMike 12.19.11 @ 1:22 pm

like i said before any of these 3 sound good but i want pitt to get theone they want not one who was left after some else took one so get a move on and just do it we lost 2 coachs last year one to WVU becuse they moved so slow .

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 1:23 pm

I keep hearing over and over again on this blog that Cristobal is a “great recruiter”. What evidence is there of this? It may be true but Im just asking because I dont remember any big time recruits picking FIU.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.19.11 @ 1:36 pm

pantherman 13 and outhers are so right this year we have 3 good coachs to pick from mutch better than last year they all have big plus sides and little down sides. but any of the 3 will be good but we must pick one and stop messing around do it now.
last year we lost the coach we wanted to WVU i dont want to see that agein get a move on get it done

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 1:38 pm

I don’t think the level of talent dips significantly with Chryst, though. The assistants do most of the recruiting, so the fact that Wisc. has been able to pull in solid OL and RBs over the years should be okay. It definitely translates well to W. PA.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 9:45 am

This thinking is questionable at the least, sorry Nabil or whoever you are.
We aren’t going to the Big 10, where Cryst’s contacts are. We’re going to the ACC, you know… it’s a southern based league and the power teams are in Florida and the Carolinas.

As far as Wisconsin, so they won the Big 10 in a down year for the league. Yea, they won it because they were lucky enough to pick up Russell Wilson from NC State to play QB for a year.
They got beat by TCU in the Rose Bowl last year.
Usually Wisconsin is 3 yards and cloud of dust on offense. Cryst does not translate recruting players for the ACC. For we need a lot of players from outside Western Pa to compete, like say…from Florida. Because that’s where the speed is, not Wisconsin, Ohio and Pa.

And to be perfectly frank kids from Ohio and Wisconsin want to play in the Big 10, not the ACC.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 1:53 pm

@FRANKCAN,

Ped State is only interested in Mario, but he’s not going to go to Creepy Valley. It’s a toxic place and his wife would really hate it there.

Pittsburgh has lots of boats per capita, almost as many as Miami/Dade. Actually I think it’s more since the marina dock space in Miami is way higher. So he cruise the 3 rivers with wife in tow. lol

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 1:58 pm

Coach Ditka,

Go over to Dokish’s site.

Pantherprey (google it), he did a nice article listing all of Mario’s recruits and who else was recruiting them as well.

And remember he was trying to recruit to a school who’s been played D1 football for 5 years. And they have ZERO tradition or history and when he started, almost zero facilities.

He is described as a ‘relentless’ recruiter.
Look at his wife(former Miss Florida), this guys a winner. Give me a frickin break.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 2:02 pm

@Ditka… I don’t know who any of these kids are, but here is a list of recruits Cristobal won over bigger name institutions while at FIU… And he’s recruiting at FIU which barely had a program 5-6 years ago.

Giovani Francois- Louisville
Elijah Maxey- Illinois, Duke
Aaron Nielsen- Kansas
Denzell Perine- Minnesota
Derrick Thorpe- Arkansas
Corey Tindal- Maryland, Minnesota, Toledo
Ezekiel Turner- West Virginia
Cedric Walker- Cincinnati, Kansas State, UCF
Glenn Coleman- Colorado, Southern Miss, Tulsa
Jerry Baker- Northwestern
Marques Cheeks- Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Mississippi State
Davison Colimon- SMU
Denzel Conyers- UConn
Marcus Gilchrist- Kentucky, Purdue
Delmar Taylor- South Florida
Favian Upshaw- Illinois
Justin Halley- Vanderbilt
Greg Hickman- Iowa State, Purdue, South Florida
Richard Leonard- South Florida
Jake Medlock- Arkansas, Virginia, Miami, FL
Kedrick Rhodes- Iowa, Kansas State, Northwestern
Willis Wright- Auburn, Mississippi, Nebraska, Purdue, Rutgers, South Florida, Tennessee, Central Florida, West Virginia
Derrick Jones, Jr.- Colorado State
Darian Mallary- Iowa, Mississippi State
Larvez Mars- Iowa State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, South Florida, Central Florida
Thatcher Starling- Arizona
Terrance Taylor- Rutgers, South Florida, Central Florida
Edgar Theliar- San Diego State, South Florida, Hawaii
Derrick Clark- Arkansas, Purdue, South Florida
Troy Dannehower- South Florida
A.J. Grant- Illinois, Purdue, Miami, FL
James Jones- South Florida
Cedrick Mack- Arizona, South Florida, Oregon State, Washington State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Southern Miss

Comment by Pitt89 12.19.11 @ 2:05 pm

Top 150 player recruited to FIU which is unheard of link to espn.go.com

Comment by humza 12.19.11 @ 2:05 pm

@ EMel… or I could just cut and paste it for him

Comment by Pitt89 12.19.11 @ 2:06 pm

sorry 2010 class

Comment by humza 12.19.11 @ 2:07 pm

How is Fickell seasoned after on year as a head coach of a dysfunctional season? Cristobal is seasoned with 5 years of head coaching experience and has a bigger reputation of a recruiter than Fickell does…and he plays a style that will fit well in the ACC.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.19.11 @ 12:53 pm

Exactly, Tossing, this is a no brainer.

Factoring in, HC experience, recruiting, building something out of nothing. What’s to build at Ohio State? (I mean get real) and the fact this guy has connections in Florida, where PITT has had great success getting high profile players.
There is no choice here for Smiley to screw up.

Even for him!! (again this does not guarantee this guy is going to be a success, but it’s the logical choice of the 3 main candidates)

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 2:12 pm

lol Pitt89….

love it !

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 2:13 pm

Anyway I believe this could be all settled anyway.

You don’t offer the job unless you know the guy is going to accept the offer. That’s the way this stuff is done, much like the conference realignment stuff. The ACC wouldn’t offer a invite to PITT, unless they already knew PITT would accept it.

It’s all about not looking bad, saving face, whatever.

Get ready for the Beef O’ Brady Bowl tomorrow night gents. In the bowl we thought we’d be in and actually wanted to be in.

HTP !

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 2:21 pm

Looks like some good recruits that he pulled from other schools but I also noticed that in both 2010 and 2011 FIU ranked 2nd in recruiting rankings behind Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.19.11 @ 2:23 pm

Who in the ACC could beat Wisconsin this year or over the last five years.
Comment by DRW 12.19.11 @ 11:51 am

Aaaaa, didn’t Wisconsin have a 5th year QB from a middling ACC team (one Russell Wilson) that made them such an offensive juggernaut this year?

And I don’t have the time to research this at the moment, but TCU of the Mountain West beat Wisconsin last year and Arizona State (yeah Sleazoid’s new home) should have beat them in Madison last year and they stunk. So I would say several ACC teams could have beat Wisconsin, beginning with Va Tech, Clemson, Miami trashed OSU this year and OSU beat Wisconsin and FSU could have beaten them as well. Why, because while some these teams didn’t have 10 or 11 win seasons, they have speed. And we all know based on SEC/Big 10 matchups in Bowl games…..speed kills.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 2:32 pm

@ Coach Ditka,

If you combine getting some of the local top kids in Western Pa, Eastern Ohio and the rest of PA and maybe NJ a little, WITH 5-10 per year from Florida. We could have a nice recruiting haul every year. If you’ve noticed the last 5-7 years WVU is pulling a lot of kids out of Florida, which is why they seem to always have more speed than us.

And in Florida, even the 2-3 star kids can be very good players. Take for example, Greg Romeus and Antonio Bryant. You don’t have to get the 4-5 star kids in Florida to get some real players.

Just sayin.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 2:39 pm

We don’t have an Urban Meyer or Nick Sabin on the short list.
So there is a great deal of risk with any of the three canidates. The powers that be at Pitt are picking from a pool of guys that this is a big opportunity for.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 2:41 pm

@EMel Wisconsin’s offense has ranked in the top 5 the last 2 years with 2 different QBs at the helm. Not exactly a “3 yards and a cloud of dust” type offense.

“As far as Wisconsin, so they won the Big 10 in a down year for the league. Yea, they won it because they were lucky enough to pick up Russell Wilson from NC State to play QB for a year.”

Luck? Do you think Russell Wilson threw a dart at the wall? There is a reason why he chose Wisconsin and it directly reflects on their staff and game plan.

I don’t doubt the importance of having FL, TX or NJ recruiting ties, but I have no assurance that MC is going to land the 4 star FL recruits Pitt needs to compete for ACC titles.

At the end of the day, I’ll sleepy well enough with either three of these candidates. It’s always going to be a gamble. I just don’t see this decision as a no brainer for Mario.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 2:44 pm

Emel I agree. Walt pulled lots of talent in his days from Florida as well which actually gets back to another point that you dont have to be Mr Personality to get kids to come play for you. Walt had a ton of NFL caliber players and we all know he wasn’t exactly the life of the party.

I really cant put a finger on it but something about Cristobal just doesn’t seem to fit.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.19.11 @ 2:46 pm

Agree with Panter13 and Frankcan we are looking at 3 good guys – no need to rip any of them apart.

I still prefer Luke Fickell (as I prefered Tom B. last year at this time!) mainly because of their reputation for great defense.

Tressel ball was successful because of Fickel’s defense. Luke played noseguard and he was a top-caliber wrestler – he is a tough, clean cut guy.

I agree he did look like a deer in the headlights but understanding the situation he was handed this past year what stand-up guy wouldn’t have looked that way.

I don’t know Cristobel or FIU’s history – doesn’t make hime bad – it seems like an unlikely fit culturally.

I vote for the nose guard, wrestler, clean cut guy from 2.5 hours away. Defense wins championships.

Comment by Mill 12.19.11 @ 2:49 pm

You might be right Coach Ditka.

It’s always a crap shoot.

I met Walt, the first time was at the Civic Arena before The City Game. We shared the elevator up to the Pvt. Boxes. He seemed like a real guy, no bs and was quite friendly. Of course he might have thought I was somebody he needed to be friendly too, but I don’t think he was like that.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 2:51 pm

Regardless, I hope a decision is made in the next few days, before we start getting decommitment headlines

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 2:51 pm

We would have to think if Fickell was the man then they would have just named him the guy. Chryst too!

With Mario preparing to coach in the game tomorrow night it just seems obvious that its him. Pitt doesnt want to look sleazey naming before the game to upset the fan base and their current players. I’m going with Cristobal until proven otherwise.

However, I still prefer Fickell by a trickle over Mario!

Comment by QuipScript 12.19.11 @ 3:00 pm

Cristobal built a program at FIU from nothing. Sorry to say, but that is where PITT is at right now. Nothing…

Comment by Pittastic 12.19.11 @ 3:14 pm

@Nabil,

Sorry guy, maybe I’m wrong, before this year and even to an extent this year, Wisky was always known as a rush first team and produced some prolific rushers. Montee Ball this year and they had several other big RB’s the last several years.
John Clay, Anthony Davis, Brain Calhoun, & PJ Hill come to mind.

“Last year, as a team, the Badgers ranked second in the nation in rushing touchdowns with 48, and 12th in rushing yards with 3194. Wisconsin’s 5.47 yards per attempt was 7th best in the NCAA. Obviously Wisconsin boasts one of the top ground attacks in the country, year-in and year-out.”

“Run-heavy offenses have long defined the Big Ten, and the conference has produced several fine running backs in the last decade. Many of these backs came from Wisconsin, a program that identifies with the power running game perhaps more than any other in the NCAA.”

Those are two excerpts from Wisky’s SB Nation pages.

Not that I don’t like Power running games, we had that with Wanny. I don’t think that will work in the ACC. As I posted a couple of days ago, Pitt had a power running team in 2009, our best team in 30 years at PITT. At least the first since 1982 to win 10 games. We lost that year to a middling or worse ACC team that was 2-6 in the ACC, you should remember, cause NC State’s QB was Russel Wilson. We also struggle mightily to beat another middling ACC team who was 4-4 in the ACC that year, that was UNC in the Meineke Bowl.

So mind you this was PITT’s best team in 30 years, that used a power running game with Dion Lewis rushing for 1800 yards and we lost to a 2-6 ACC team and struggled to win on a last second FG with a 4-4 ACC team. Why, well imo both of these middling ACC teams still had a lot more speed at most EVERY position than Pitt. In the old days you could go down south and out physical them as we did in the middle 70′s and early 1980′s.

You can’t do that anymore, they have just as big and just as strong players in the trenches as we do in the North. Perhaps even stronger. Hate to say that, but imo it’s true.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 3:23 pm

Cristobal pretty much built the program at FIU. Cryst did ot build the program at Wisconsin … big difference.

I have no idea who the better coach will be, or if both would be a bust … it’s a crapshoot, which is before you fire a coach, you better have a darn good idea that you can improve

Comment by wbb 12.19.11 @ 3:24 pm

Great point wbb – wonder what was running through SP’s mind when he fired Wanny.

After reading the Steelers article I believe now more than ever it it time:

Move the Forbes quad to Panther Hollow.

New Stadium next to the Catheral.

HAIL TO PITT!!!!!!

Comment by Mill 12.19.11 @ 3:29 pm

Regardless, I hope a decision is made in the next few days, before we start getting decommitment headlines

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 2:51 pm

Agree with that.
I think according to what I read, that are sticking together. Voytik and the others are talking with each other and seem committed to PITT.

HTP !

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 3:30 pm

wbb, you liked wanny, mr. mediocre, we get it, give it a rest.

Comment by scott 12.19.11 @ 3:37 pm

You know this might all work out for us.

Any of these guys is better than Graham. Certainly it’s better we found out sooner, rather than later about Sleazoid.

Sleazoid might have been better had we joined the Big 12 ala WVU since his base is in Texas. But since we didn’t and we’re headed to the ACC, it’s a good thing.

Plus the Steelers hated the guy, as did the people, who I know personally, over at the Pittsburgh Steak Company where Sleazo did his weekly radio show from. Not that any of this, is an end all but it shows something about this person’s real demeanor.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 3:46 pm

It’s over.

I have finally seen the Mutually Beneficial Arrangements girl. NICE!

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.19.11 @ 3:47 pm

QuipScript there it is right in front of our face.
good call i should have seen it it is mario. and this way if he says no than thay can name fickell and not lose face.
Imy self am torn between the two i see fickell as a 8 wins a year coach one he gets his feet under him with maybe a 9 win season once in the wile but staying 8 or 10 yrars.

I see mario haveing a 8 win season the first year and 10 or 11 the third year then leaveing and
we have go thru this all over agein.
for me that is a hard pick.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 3:48 pm

@EMel – Some good points there. Can’t argue the downward trend of a Big 10 offense. I don’t think Pitt can rebound solely on the backs of a power rushing attack. Competing in the ACC will require speed and the spread utilizes that.

GA Tech is moderately successful with the triple option though, so a solid running game can be tailored for the ACC. I’m not advocating that for Pitt. Just being contrary for the sake of being contrary at this point, haha.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 4:00 pm

I don’t care who the coach is, nobody’s winning 8 games with Tino at QB.

Fickell stays until the Ohio State job comes open. Or maybe if something middling Big-10 that is fairly close to Columbus opens up (IU would be the only thing I can think of…). With Meyer that could be 3 years, it could be 5. It might be 10, but I doubt Urban will stay in the game that long.

But yea Frankcan, I see the same scenario with Cristoball…if his wife doesn’t badger him into leaving Pitt. God, the cultural fit is just sooo bad.

Comment by Baltimore in '84 12.19.11 @ 4:07 pm

If we went budget neutral on the Sunseri’s, I’d trade Tino for Sal..just make sure he has a good OC with him — he might even bring back the Script and cut off jerseys.

Comment by Matt N. 12.19.11 @ 4:31 pm

Matt – you might as well take Vinnie Sunseri while you’re at it. He has potential.

Comment by Nabil 12.19.11 @ 4:45 pm

For the MC camp out there:

From FIU blog:

A few words from the president…
Post Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl luncheon, after talking to FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg about the impact bowls and the football program have had on the school’s visibility, I asked him if the Pitt rumors were unsettling and has Mario Cristobal told him that he would be FIU’s coach next year?

He replied, “I’d rather not comment on that. All I can say is I think it goes with the turf. When your’e successful, everybody loves you. So, I think that’s a great thing. But, the particulars, I’m focused. I’m focused.”

For what it’s worth…

link to miamiherald.typepad.com

DaveD

Comment by DaveD 12.19.11 @ 5:03 pm

My preference for the position is:

1. The Mutually Benefical girl

2. Jessica Cristobal

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 6:18 pm

Comment by scoocher 12.19.11 @ 9:57 pm

It does go with the turf as the FIU President indicates so eloquently. That is why, as an Administrator, you target a coach and go after him, regardless of paper obligations. I almost called them contracts, but they really aren’t because they get broken constantly.

Why doesn’t smiley identify a big name, go after a proven commodity, and loosen the purse strings? Oh, that would additional paranoia on his part over his own ability to do his job. He just won an internal power struggle against Wannstedt in a squeaker and feels he is best protected by bringing in someone with less experience than what the university deserves in order to protect his paycheck. That thinking is outdated. Get with the times smiley. Administrators nowadays, hire the best, regardless of cost (to an extent)and then conquer. Pitt will always be third tier in the athletic world because we don’t commit to being the best, by hiring the best. First example, our AD.

And the Cristobal recruits against other schools argument list…Really? The couple of nice recruits were caught up in the numbers games at the respective large institutions and with the other two star prospects, the coach beat out the bethune cookmans and marshalls for Florida talent. I am not pooh pooing sir Cristobal, just correcting the data share. Right now, we need a keeper as a coach and we need to drop some dead weight in the AD.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 12.19.11 @ 10:54 pm

@dhuffdaddy

The problem with your suggestion is that it takes 2 to tango. Pitt could offer Mick Saban $10 million, who thinks he would accept it to coach at Pitt? I think Saban would use the offer as leverage to get a raise.

This is the same thinking that Pirate fans have – “Why don’t the Bucs sign Albert Puljos?” He’s NEVER going to sing with the Bucs.

Much like the Pirates, Pitt cannot compete with the big boys of college football. We have to take a different approach. That’s not an excuse for Pitt being so bad for so long, but we cannot use the approach that tOSU or PSU can take.

Comment by ME 2001 12.19.11 @ 11:27 pm

@scoocher

Here is the most telling quote of that little article…

“Pitt underachieves routinely.”

How about hiring someone that cause Pitt to OVERachieve – just once! If that means he’ll be gone after 3 years, I’ll take it.

Comment by ME 2001 12.19.11 @ 11:32 pm

ME2001 you mean PSU used to be able to take they our on the way down and will be under PITTwho is on the way up.
PSU will soon be known as a has been the pit of the big 10 wonderfull isent it.
i must go to bed now i am in my cups

Dominus Cimentarius
vertas et virtus

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 11:45 pm

@FRANKCAN

As much as I love to see the fall of PSU, I don’t believe they will be down for 25 years. Do you expect PSU to a) look for a young up-and-coming coach or b) throw millions of dollars at a name coach?

They may give the job to some body until the the majority of the scandal blows over – like Fickell did at tOSU – then go after anybody they want to.

Comment by ME 2001 12.20.11 @ 12:22 am

@ME – I don’t like to argue because in all seriousness, everyone on here wants Pitt to win. That said, how do we now know how coaches will act if we become the aggressor and loosen the purse strings? I disagree with your premise and perhaps it is just a bad example. You mention that the pirates wouldn’t sign pujols if they offered him the moon and vice versa. Well, florida offered the moon and he took it. Is florida a better franchise than the pirates? Really?

Not only did florida pay pujols, they paid big bucks for other talent to support him. Why? Because they have a five year plan to build a new stadium and they want marquis players there to take full advantage of the situation.

Pitt, thanks to an AD that can’t think two years ahead, will never be comfortable enough to make the offers to current big time coaches. Why not? Paranoid AD would potentially lose a power struggle with the Chancellor. You don’t actually know who is interested until you try. A great AD that actually makes contacts and nurtures relationships with many coaches can do those things. SP is cheap. He only gives raises when his good coaches get mentioned for new jobs (see dixon several times). When will Sir Nordenberg figure it out? Probably not until after he retires.

I am not buying 8 or 9 win seasons when smiley promised championships and next level if we supported his plan. Well, he has no plan, because you can’t execute a plan when you have a coaching carousel. Who can buy into the plan? A gullible Chancellor, that’s who.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 12.20.11 @ 1:27 am

Gheeezus. Todd And Penni Graham have completely destroyed just about everyone on this blog. We’re poo pooing coaches because they “GASP” might not want to coach Pitt until they die. And we are making borderline racist comments about the cultural inability of a woman, whose name we didn’t even know two weeks ago, to support her husband wherever his profession takes him.

WTF?

Comment by Cnorwood 12.20.11 @ 2:01 am

@dhuffdaddy

I’ll agree with you on this point – there is no hurt in TRYING. What I hear from some Pitt fans is that just throwing a lot of money at a coach is the solution to our troubles. We cannot do things this way.

Pujols did not go to Florida, he’s with the Angles now. The point is that Pujols, when given the freedom to chose ANY team to play with, would not choose the Pirates, the Royals, the Indians, etc. Those teams stink and no amount of money would attract him to them.

The Marlins ARE a better team than the Bucs. They have won the WS, tore the franchise down, and built it back into a WS team TWICE during the Pirate 19 year streak. I would say the Marlins are more like the Cincinnati Bearcats, they have been through sevaral coaching changes but have been able to win the BE several times. Meanwhile Pitt is looking for head coach #6 in a 13 month span.

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