December 20, 2011

The Grand Triumvirate

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Recruiting — Reed @ 7:04 am

Man, I’m really enjoying this coaching search.  I mean it.  It is fun to read all the rumors and hear all the BS from people who act like they actually know something, someone, or some such.

The best part is reading all our commenter’s thoughts on who they like or dislike and why.  There are a lot of strong opinions on here and good justifications for those opinions.

As of this morning there seems to be only three viable candidates remaining… with a smattering of other names popping up here and there.  Let’s look at the top three guys.

We have Mario Cristobal, the head coach of FIU who seems to be the young up and comer.  We have Luke Fickell, the ex-DC who took over the reins of a scandal ridden OSU and kept anymore bad things from happening at least.  Then there is Paul Chryst, the OC from Wisconsin and Mr. Personality himself.

Here are my impressions of the Holy Trinity so far.

If we want the Anti-Graham, which many of us fans and supporters do, then Paul Chryst in the clear choice.  This guy ain’t going to be slinging slogans around unless it’s “Boring is Good, Try It Sometime!”.  There is nothing absolutely wrong with that type of a personality I suppose but as the HC of a BCS program you want someone who the donors will actually remember 30 minutes after meeting him.

The fact that he doesn’t ‘like’ to recruit may be a positive though because the last stiff  we had like that, Walt Harris, didn’t either and look where he took us… to the “Almost Next Level”.  I wonder about this Chryst recruiting stuff anyway, from what I’ve read about Chryst it isn’t so much that he didn’t like to but that he wasn’t required to, except for with the QB position.

Ding! Ding! Ding!  Could we actually be considering someone who knows what a real college QB looks like?  OMG!! He’s run the offense at Wisky very well in his time there and that program kicks out successful RBs like newborns out of a Mormon mother.  At least Rushel Shell would like this pick I think.

Lucas “You can call me Luke” Fickell is a strong contender out of the great state of Ohio.  People like him because… well, because… oh yeah… he can recruit!  His claim to fame is that he kept OSU from sliding into Penn State scandal territory while the interim HC for one year.  The knock on Fickell is poor gameday coaching, the positive is that he’s familiar with the WPA Tri-State area and knows what kind of football is played there and, one would assume, appreciates it.

That actually is a pretty strong positive in his favor I think, but is it enough to overcome his relative lack of HC experience?

The sexy pick and one who Paul Zeise considers the front runner this morning is Mario Cristobal.  It is apparent that Cristobal is also the most polarizing candidate among PITT fans.  Some like his age and his experience in taking a football program at FIU from infancy to a bowl game.  That is a pretty decent achievement given the fact that FIU didn’t even have a program in 2002.  But from what I gather the fans who hang their hats on this achievement also feel that PITT football is in much the same condition and I wonder about that.  We don’t need a miracle worker as much as a good head coach.

Opinions differ on Cristobal’s recruiting skills because his roster is stocked with two star players with an occasional three star thrown in and that’s a knock against him.  It’s a valid concern but given the circumstances of his program and the other FL schools he is recruiting against it is understandable also.  The fact that he took those kids and molded a successful team is a positive, at least IMO.

Personally, I think his recruiting would take off at PITT especially given that our biggest two recruiting rivals are on the ropes right now.  Plus, given his good reputation in FL, he may be able to draw some serious talent from that area.

They really are three decent candidates and all have their strong, and weaker, points.  The one common complaint from the PITT fans about all three of these guys is that they would leave within a few years.  Chryst because he’s a Big Ten guy; Fickell because Urban Meyer can’t be trusted to stay on at OSU and that would be Fickell’s dream job and Cristobal for the fact that his wife is hot and PGH doesn’t have the South Beach party scene… really, that’s a actual concern for some fans.  His wife is too pretty.

I suppose some may consider Cristobal’s wife to be pretty if you like stunning Cuban-American women with long silky brown hair, an olive skinned complexion, bedroom eyes and the body of a Victoria’s Secret model.  In that case sure, I guess she’s pretty good looking.

The point people tend to miss is that to anyone but a PITT alumnus the job of HC here is going to be a stepping stone.  It was in the past, it is now and it always will be.  We are not in the top echelon of college football regardless of how many games we may win per year; we don’t have the rabid fan base or the huge stadiums filled to capacity that the Top Dogs do and we don’t have the financial support that the big football schools do either.  Our football program is not king at the university or even in Pittsburgh as a whole.  The fact that our football team falls somewhere around 5th in sports importance locally means something to our head coaches.

That isn’t to say PITT isn’t a very good job.  I believe it is and I think that any HC who wins their share of games, competes for conference championships and keeps their nose and the program clean can thrive here.  But each of these guys, and any others we may interview, will just not be a “PITT Head Coach for Life”.  Let’s hope we get a good one to join us and that he and his family enjoy Pittsburgh enough to not want to tuck and run at the first opportunity.

But understand this; Graham did that because of his flawed character, not because PITT wasn’t a good job to have.  I’ll bet a dollar our next Head Coach won’t be the same type of person.  The job at hand for the PITT administration is to hire the best  head coach it can based on the job requirements and the candidate’s positive attributes, it isn’t to be scared that who they hire might leave in a few years.  That’s no way to do business.

Well I guess the silent three days pretty much tells us all we need to know. Pitt wants Cristobal and now we’re simply waiting for FIUs bowl game to be over.

I still dont like this hire for a number of reasons. And even if you like this guy, remember he is Stevies first choice. That should give us all something to be frightened about. If I were Chancellor I would actually ask Stevie for his top 5 candidates and then reverse the list and hire the one he likes the least. I would use the George Costanza “Opposite” methodology: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.20.11 @ 7:14 am

I like Fickell since he is smart, a good recruiter, passionate, decency and loyalty traits, dynamic personality, and understands the game and what is expected of a head coach, but he is a bit raw on experience and will make mistakes. It will be to some degree on the job training. Therefore, I think Pitt goes with the sexy pick Mario. Mario has all of these qialities that you look for in a coach

Comment by TX Panther 12.20.11 @ 7:18 am

And he’s stevies pick. He likes high energy guys that are glamour picks. Plus Mario’s wife will make for some nice eye candy. They can always get Fickell once Mario takes the Miami job in 3 years.

Comment by TX Panther 12.20.11 @ 7:22 am

Reed you are wrong with this statement,

“Opinions differ on Cristobal’s recruiting skills because his roster is stocked with two star players with an occasional three star thrown in” Go to FIU’s Rival page where it shows on its commitment list that MC had 10 3* recruits in 2010/2011 classes and 11 so far for 2012. At least for the last 2 classes the upcoming one could we say he had a somewhat a good amount of 3* recruit.

I have posted this on the Scout site and all the main proponents of this 2 star myth never responded. It shows you that they are not interested in MC. Why else not respond to facts from the Rivals site…

Comment by Kenny 12.20.11 @ 7:37 am

I do think Marios wife is a legitimate concern. Would she really be happy in Pittsburgh?? She has lived in Miami since 2001 and seems quite entrenched in the community.

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And oh ya, how do you think shes going to like 3 feet of snow in January as opposed to 75 degrees on the Miami beach??? But theres always Kennywood right? Lets also not forget that Mario played at the U during a time when the players were known to be committing some major ncaa violations. Just throwing that out there.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.20.11 @ 7:37 am

Coach the whole issue of whether MC’s wife would want to come here is a myth as well because it is based on conjecture that is primarily based on two things.

1) Penni Graham did not like it here or so that A-hole of a husband says.

2) They want other coaches.

Coach you have no idea what her thought process is just like anyone else on these boards. NCAA violations, I get it you don’t like him but your arguments are weak.

Comment by Kenny 12.20.11 @ 7:51 am

I can think of a million or so reasons why she’d get over the snow.

Otherwise, they are kind of limiting themselves to whenever there is an opening at Miami.

Comment by OriginalEther 12.20.11 @ 7:53 am

Im not trying to make strong arguments Im just giving my opinion. I was under the assumption thats what you do on blog sites.

And by the way I do like Mario and I think he is a very good coach…just not a good fit for where the Pitt program is right now and what they need. . Thats all.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.20.11 @ 7:55 am

How the he** do you know that they are limiting themselves to the Miami opening. Did you hear either him or his wife say this…

Comment by Kenny 12.20.11 @ 7:55 am

Not a good fit for this program. OK coach tell me what they need..

Comment by Kenny 12.20.11 @ 7:56 am

@OriginalEther..yes money does help but we all know that Mario is eventually going to get his pay day wether its in two weeks or two years. Changing your entire lifestyle and moving 2,000 miles away from all of your friends and family isn’t always that easy. For the wife of a coach I would imagine you spend a lot of time on your own and having a support network of friends and family around is probably a pretty big deal for you. Again, just my speculation and something I think needs to be considered.We need a coach that truly wants to be at Pitt and doesnt want to be here because of the amount of zeroes on the check a la Fraud Graham.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.20.11 @ 7:59 am

@Kenny. They need a coach with ties to the Pittsburgh region that can help repair the enormous amount of damage done to the fan base, alumni, high school coaches, etc…

They need a coach from a major program that knows how to recruit, run a BCS level operation, and that can bring in an experienced staff of assistants and coordinators. I personally dont want Pitt being coached by the 2011 FIU staff.

They need a coach that truly wants the Pitt job and isnt simply looking for the biggest offer. I understand that lots of coaches leave but I still think you need someone that you can reasonably assume will give you at least 5 strong years.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.20.11 @ 8:03 am

I don’t like any of the names listed. I don’t think Mario would be a good choice because he is the Village Idiot’s first choice and because his hot wife will be ragging him to go somewhere more “Glamorous” and trendy. Plus, really not sure if his recruiting translates up here. If Fickell was so good, OSU would have hired him as HC instead of making him hang on as “interim.” A good point was raised by TX Panter, what happens three years from now when Urban clutches his chest and says “I’m coming with you Elizabeth?” Not sure about Chryst yet. I really don’t care if the guy is boring as long as the players connect with him and he wins. My choice remains Mark Stoops. I think he would be perfect for the job. He’s from the area, has the name and the pedigree and he knows the ACC. He’s applied for the job, so why not interview him? There reason? Because we have the Village Idiot! Ii hope and pray that when this debacle is over, SP is given his walking papers and let him go and screw up someone else’s program.

Comment by 13-9 12.20.11 @ 8:04 am

Why do we need a coach with ties to the region? I play the opinion game with you. The last two coaches who had true success here HAD NO TIES TO THE AREA.

Here is another opinion, how do you know he would bring his whole staff. That’s right it is your opinion that he will bring his staff with him.

Here is another opinion, how do you know that MC is looking for the biggest offer. Once again it is your opinion that is what he is looking for.

Comment by Kenny 12.20.11 @ 8:14 am

Still can’t understand why Pitt didn’t call Kirby Smart, DC wiz at ‘Bama and ask if he’d be interested.

Comment by mtoolmn 12.20.11 @ 8:14 am

My opinion on Pitt’s next head football coach: If it’s Mario Cristobal, it’s the wrong coach for Pitt. Mario and Jessica are too cute for the Pittsburgh scene. Given that all three front-runners have better credentials than Todd Graham, I’d like to see either Luke or Paul take over for Todd.

The South Side is not South Beach. Mario will have a hard time finding decent Cuban food in the ‘Burgh. I’ve worked in the Miami area and can attest to its heavy Latin scene. I’ve also spend a good deal of time in the ‘Burgh and believe Mario or Jessica would not be happy there. Given this simple logic, if Mario is chosen, (given Peterson’s Midas touch for picking the wrong coach at the wrong time), Pitt will be looking for another head coach in less than four years.

I agree with Reed, Pitt is a stepping stone coaching position, however, it still has an image to uphold and Mario and Jessica just don’t fit the role. Having said that, Mario makes around 500k at FIU, Jessica may just buy into the Pittsburgh scene for a few years. After all, minimum wage at Pitt will be twice what Mario now makes. Jessica can afford a lot of Gucci, Armani, Jimmi Choo…

It’s just my opinion but Mario would be the wrong guy for Pittsburgh and the Panthers. Where are you Mike Ditka? HTP!

Comment by MariettaMike 12.20.11 @ 8:26 am

You guys MIGHT have the wrong idea about Jessica Cristobal. She MIGHT like Pittsburgh with it’s many charities and seems to be a go-getter in the jet-set scene…….. and MIGHT want to be top poodle in Pittsburgh………

Don’t discount when no one has talked with her about it………

Comment by mtoolmn 12.20.11 @ 8:37 am

Because when people start saying “they’ll hate the weather” or “they won’t like the culture” in Pittsburgh, I look at locations of other schools and see that they aren’t exactly Miami either.

So, there are going to have to make some sort of change, or stay in Miami eternally, either with Miami, or FIU.

Ultimately, if the new coach is sucessful, whomever the choice may be, there is always the potential of him leaving for a school that can offer more money.

Comment by OriginalEther 12.20.11 @ 8:38 am

Amazing what TG has left in his wake…

It’s no longer good enough by all accounts to be a very good football coach and very good recruiter. Now you have to be born and raised within a 200 mile radius of Pittsburgh, you have hold dear the values of “rust belt” football, you can’t be too good looking and we have to delve into the deep recesses of your wife’s mind and determine what she does and doesn’t like.

God Bless, Todd Graham…

By the way, this is meant entirely as dripping sarcasm, not a shot at any bloggers or their opinions on the search

Comment by Pitt89 12.20.11 @ 8:52 am

All the talk about Mario wanting Cuban culture and finding Cuban food is very racist. Do any of you really think the guy only eats Cuban food and plays Dominoes all day? The comment about his wife are ridiculous! Come on people, show off your Pitt education and have some class.

Comment by notrocketscience 12.20.11 @ 8:58 am

Guys, some of us are putting Jessica Cristobal on the same bimbosity level as Penni Graham and not only isn’t that fair, but we have no idea what she is like.

Lets remind ourselves that hundreds of thousands of wives are living away from their hometowns in support of their husband’s careers. It happens in the Military, Junior Executives, just about every sports coach husband and wife, Pastors, etc…

What we saw with Penni Graham is by far an anomaly and not the norm. It really depends on what kind of character and personality Jessica Cristobal has. From her track record she seems to be an intelligent and upright women. Those types can thrive anywhere, especially if there is enough income that allows unlimited travel…

Comment by Reed 12.20.11 @ 9:00 am

We had a Pitt guy, now they’re interviewing guys who aren’t. I don’t dislike any of the 3 canidates. The issue about Cristobal’s wife possibly not liking Pittsburgh, you never know. Jackie Sherrill’s wife was a Pittsburgh girl and that didn’t keep him here, even when had everyone coming back and Pitt was projected as the No. 1 team in the nation. Sherrill was a sounterner who idolized Bear Bryant. Look at Jamie Dixon, he’s from southern California, but he embrased the city, loves Pittsburgh, and he has made it his home.

Comment by Justinian 12.20.11 @ 9:02 am

“Cristobal carries a reputation of being an excellent recruiter, setting up for his third season at FIU by putting together an impressive recruiting class of 23 student athletes, at least 20 of them from Florida.[2] He wears a customary shirt and tie along with dress pants for each and every game to honor his idol, Joe Paterno.”

They better lock him up before Ped State, makes him an offer he can’t refuse. More $$$$$ and a private plane to take Mario and wife to NYC anytime they want.

Comment by EMel 12.20.11 @ 9:02 am

Boy, what a difference a year makes. Not all of a sudden, everyone is worried about a coach staying here long term!!

A year ago at this time .. I remember Chas and many others stating that they were very OK with a Brian Kelly type .. someone who would come in for 3 years, get a BCS bid or 2, and then move on.

Hring a new coach is a crapshoot .. and a chess match when you have to think a few moves ahead. Thus, when you fire a coach, you better be darn sure you will be able to hire an improvement.

Comment by wbb 12.20.11 @ 9:04 am

folowing up on my post above, I would love to see Austin come in as DC and asst HC no matter who is hired

Comment by wbb 12.20.11 @ 9:13 am

The report that prominent boosters support the hiring of Chryst makes me hope the administration goes with another coach.

Comment by notrocketscience 12.20.11 @ 9:17 am

If I’m not mistaken, doesn’t the Pitt head football coaching position pay enough to by buy plane tickets to Florida? I would think for a million plus a year, that Jessica Cristobal could afford to make more than 1 or 2 trips to Florida a year.

Comment by Justinian 12.20.11 @ 9:24 am

@notrocketscience. Oh, stop allready. Political correctness run amuck.

I did not make any of the above comments.

However, none of them were racist what so ever.

Stop, stop with the insanity.

It’s just a couple guys bs’ing on a football blog for God’s sake, STOP IT!!!!!!!


I suppose you’d be offeneded if I said Merry Christmas to you!!!

Comment by Dan 12.20.11 @ 9:26 am

Personally, I’m “Offended”, that people today are so easily “Offended”.

Who is going to address my concerns and advocate for me??? Don’t I count???


Comment by Dan 12.20.11 @ 9:29 am

@wbb agree 100%. Especially if we’re worried about losing a coach after 3 or 4 years, easy transition right there.

Comment by Nabil 12.20.11 @ 9:31 am

I’d love to see an Austin interview today, the NFL’s off day but I doubt it. Depending on which newspaper is reporting it, the job will go to Chryst or Cristobal.

Comment by Presto Panther 12.20.11 @ 9:32 am

I think it’s going to be Mario Cristobal and I understand why. He’s a charasmatic young coach who is a good recruiter and has 5 years of experience as a head coach. If for some reason it turns out to be Chryst or Fickell, I’ll give them the benefit of doubt, and I’ll support them. I don’t think any of the three are going to spout off like “High Octane” Graham did and then go running away after one season. Everything right know is purely speculation and all we know about these guys is what we’ve read in the newspaper or in blogs.

Comment by Justinian 12.20.11 @ 9:35 am

OK… I freely admit I have no idea how good any of these coaches will be at Pitt. However, I really don’t understand all the pining for Austin. If he had played at Temple would anyone want him to be a Pitt HC??

Honestly if you put his resume against the other three guys it’s pretty lacking in comparison. Aside from one very average year at best as a DC with Florida talent, he’s done nothing but coach DB’s.

Plus these guys have no connection with Austin, why in the world would any of them hire him as their DC???

Comment by Pitt89 12.20.11 @ 9:36 am

I think all three are better than last year’s choices.

I like Mario but the fact Paul writes about Mario not sure if he wants to leave Miami worries me. Not leaving FIU worries him it’s leaving Miami. Everyone says he will be here at least 3 years. It wouldn’t shock me if he leaves in one.

Holtz isn’t a lock to be around South Florida for the next couple of years. Don’t tell me he wouldn’t leave in a second for that job. I don’t believe a guy who has lived in Florida for most of his life would look at Pitt being an upgrade of South Florida.

Comment by Why me 12.20.11 @ 9:39 am

Ben + Jennifer = Bennifer
Brad + Angelina = Brangelina
Mario + Jessica = Messica?

Why be top poodle in a glorified coal town when you can still run with the big dogs in an actual city?

That being said, for a small city Pittsburgh does have a pretty good arts/culture scene. It’s just so full of…yinzers… But just for fun, lets look at potential other coaching destinations – that could be considered a step up – and how they stack up against da’Burgh.

Big 10
If cultural fit is truly an issue, I don’t see Mario going anywhere. Too cold, too white-bread and no city atmospheres. Northwestern might be an exception – but Pat Fitzgerald is entrenched there and that is not a risk. Ann Arbor is also supposedly pretty cosmopolitan but again – waay to cold and I’m pretty sure Brady Hoke is going to be there for a while. Risk = Low

Big 12
The only team I could see that might appeal to a guy like Cristobal would be Texas. Austin is a hip town. As big as Pittsburgh. It’s warmer there. There is a strong latino culture in Texas – though it’s predominantly Mexican and Mexican and Cuban cultures are as different as night and day. So that could actually be a turn-off. So yea, it’s a Marquee job in a more culturally diverse / hipper city, and Mack Brown hasn’t exactly been tearing it up lately. Risk = Moderate

Pac 12
This is a problem area. The Pac 12 is chock full of mediocre teams with strong football traditions in high-profile destinations: UCLA, Cal, Stanford (okay so they are not mediocre but who knows what happens after Andrew Luck), Washington and…dare I say it…Arizona state. If I’m an up and coming coach born in South Florida with a supermodel wife then LA, the Bay Area and yes, even Phoenix would seem like pretty attractive places to me, don’t you think? (We can probably cross Seattle off the list – same climate as Pittsburgh but then again it’s a LOT hipper). The only thing that might bail us out is the geography. It’s a looong flight from LA or SF to Miami. It’s only 2 hours from da ‘Burgh. Risk = High

Yea, the Panthers will be joining the ACC in a year or two, but that doesn’t mean there are other, Marquee programs out there that could poach our coach. Maryland could be one (Close to DC, much more culturally diverse), UNC(Kind of white bread but has a great high-end brand and Chapel Hill, though smallish is pretty damn charming and pretty high on the culture meter). I’ll throw Georgia Tech in there too. Paul Johnson is probably a fixture as long as he wins 8 games a year, but Atlanta is a pretty cool town. And the most cosmopolitan city (outside of Miami) south of DC. And of course, lets not forget about Miami. Risk = Moderate to High.

SEC – Florida. Yep, it could happen. Maybe not a better city per-se than the ‘Burgh, but just a couple hour drive from Miami and obviously a huge reputation. Not a whole of coaching stability either, for a team that just went 6 and 6.

So yea, there are at least 7 solid schools in better-than-da-‘Burgh metro areas that could poach MC. UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Texas, Georgia Tech, Maryland, UNC and Florida. Of those seven, UCLA, Cal, Texas, Miami and Florida are probably the biggest risks.

Compare to Fickell – Maybe two schools could poach him – one being Ohio State and the other being a middling Big-10 program.

Compare to Chryst – Probably would only jump for Wisconsin.

The windup is that this analysis only further proves what we’ve already been talking about. Cristobal seems to be the high risk / high reward candidate, which is why Pederson likes him so much. Regrettably that may not be what the program needs.

Comment by Baltimore in '84 12.20.11 @ 9:40 am

As for Mario’s Def Coordinator having ties to Pittsburgh to help in recruiting. Mr. Orlando could be Mario’s replacement in Florida Int which could cause some of the current staff to stay put there. Just saying.

Comment by Why me 12.20.11 @ 9:45 am

@ Why Me – Not sure that South Florida would pay as much as Pitt. But yea, that’s a risk too.

Comment by Baltimore in '84 12.20.11 @ 9:45 am

Just read Skip makes $ 1.8 mil a year.

Comment by Why me 12.20.11 @ 9:49 am

Life is like a shit sandwich, the more bread you have the less shit you eat, a million dollar raise will go a long way especially in Pittsburgh.

Comment by WLAT and the Big Beat 12.20.11 @ 9:51 am

EMel makes a good point and i have said it my self who ever pitt wants pick him and be done with it before penn state takes him .
I could not take that and smiling stevie is what he is and that is not good.
like i and outhers have said we like all 3 they have good points and bad points.
but this time i want pitt to get the one it wants

not the one that was left like last year when miami pick the one we wanted then WVU took who we wanted so i say move your ass pick one

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 9:54 am

So lateral move to S-FL. We’ll probably offer Cristobal 1-1.2 MM and then I’d write in the option to match any competing offers. That being said $1.8 MM and living in Tampa beats $1.8 MM and living in Pittsburgh, IMHO. Esp if you are from Florida.

Comment by Baltimore in '84 12.20.11 @ 9:58 am

I would be offended if you thought I ate only Italian food and played bocce ball all day :-)

Comment by notrocketscience 12.20.11 @ 10:01 am

I don’t understand love for Cryst? His offense is productive with a Wisconsin o-line that he will never have here. He is charge of recruiting a QB. If he was so good at finding qb’s why did Wisconsin have to go after a finished product in Russell Wilson, and this year they going after Dane Crist. Actually this is the first year Wisconsin got any production out of the QB if Wisconsin had a QB last year they would have won the rose bowl. Also I don’t trust a coach who’s administration is pimping him out.

Comment by Say what 12.20.11 @ 10:04 am

Mario’s not going to State Penn. Who would want to walk into that toxic mess? Who would want to be the coach that immediately followed JoePa’s legacy? The radiation level around that place won’t cool for about 5 years. It’s been 23 days and counting for Penn State in their coach search and ultra secretive process. Few if any names are being floated. That’s for a reason. An elite coach will become interested in Penn State when Penn State has proven with actions that its culture has changed.

Comment by TX Panther 12.20.11 @ 10:13 am

I think the city is being very underrated by comments here. Yes it lacks a Latin population of any significance and the culture that comes with it, but so do many other college coaching destinations. I would say, in fact most lack such culture. However, Pittsburgh does have a lot of culture and good access to the Northeast and FL ain’t too long of a flight.

Additionally, Cuban culture is pretty unique in this country to South FL, not even Central (Orlando, Tampa) have anything really like it.

Also, again, it comes with the territory to live in different cities when working sports like this. My God, who would want to live in Tuscaloosa??? Or Mississippi??? Arkansas? Etc Etc

I agree as the younger candidate, he would be the most likely to leave after a few years, BUT we this decision has to be made with only a few years in mind. It’s likely that the other 2 MIGHT stay longer and only really leave for a good Big 10 opportunity, but if they are good and improve Pitt, what Big 10 school is worth leaving for?

Only OSU, Michigan, Michigan St, and and Wisconsin I would think.

Is MN or Indiana a step up???? I don’t think so, nor really would Purdue or others.

Comment by JoeP 12.20.11 @ 10:20 am

Which two recruiting rivals are on the ropes right now? I can only think of one. WVU’s class is currently ranked at #16 on Scout, and Ohio State’s is ranked #5. PSU is admittedly a tire fire.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 12.20.11 @ 10:31 am

I can’t believe how small minded some of the comments on this board have been regarding Mrs. Cristobal.

Imagine if we were interviewing a black man from Mississippi to be the head coach and comments like these were made:

“His wife won’t like it here because we don’t have good fried chicken and watermelon.”

“I think they attend voodoo services and we don’t have those in Pgh.”

“They would never like it hear, black people can’t take the snow. He’s from Mississippi and may have never seen the stuff.”

Kenny has been right about this stuff, we truly have no idea how the Cristobals feel about PGH. There are many people who THINK they know about PGH but are shocked when they actually get here.

Do we really think that badly about PGH that we think “there is no way they could like it here”?

Finally, let’s also stop with the idea that we know that Chryst and/or Fickell will be here longer than Cristobal. We have no idea how long any of them will stay. Just hire the best coach-we can control that. We cannot control if/when someone decides to leave.

Comment by ME 2001 12.20.11 @ 10:39 am

EMel there are thoes that say fickell was only HC for one year.
but they like chryst who has not been a HC at all
and that one year of HC for fickell was at ohio state not kent state.
and then they say he only went 6 and 6 he had a mess to deal with and a freshmen at QB maybe if he walked on water they would be happy.
that does not mean i dont want cristobal just saying fickell looks good to what do you think buddy.

Dominus Cimentarius
vertas et virtus

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 10:41 am

“There are many people who THINK they know about PGH but are shocked when they actually get here.”

I think that what Penni Graham was texting to her girlfriends while on the jet to Arizona.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.20.11 @ 10:48 am

That’s just hope the second interview with Mario is in Pittsburgh.

Comment by Why me 12.20.11 @ 10:50 am

@ Kenny/Scrooge

Statistics say what you want them to say. If you go to and click on other colleges, and click on fiu, and then click on committments, you will see that every signee for 2012 is a 2 star. Two 3 stars in 2011, but he didn’t beat out the big florida schools for them, only usf. One 3 star in 2010. Plain and simple. That said, recruiting services are just that, services. Recruiting is hit or miss on so many of the kids. The FIU class is currently ranked at 98 out of 120 and the majority of the recruits are from Florida which can be expected. I think the points are several. Number 1, if a kid is a three star and gets caught up in a numbers game with Miami, FSU, Florida and….doesn’t want to go north, FIU, UCF and USF are options. So would you agree that in general, it is easier to get a kid from the north with good skills to go south or get a kid from the south with the same skills to go north? If you agree with the prior, you would be in the majority. My point is that even with the allure of Miami Beach, at least for the last class, he isn’t a good enough recruiter to bring high star kids from the north to the south. That my friends is the numbers game. Highly rated northern players pick the better Florida schools when they decide to go south. That in turn limits the numbers for the Florida kids to grab schollies, which then equates to some run off for FIU. I am not blasting our next coach for that, I am just saying, those are the facts.You are going to get chopped off at the knees if you come in here spouting “facts” off of one site and not painting the entire picture realistically.

Secondly, with all the alleged ties to the northeast, has he brought legitimate talent to FIU from there? That would be a big negative. I think you are drinking too much MC koolaid. He may well indeed be the next coach. Having a 98th ranked recruiting class in the fertile area of Florida does not impress me. That said, having a smoking hot wife would impress me if only I could waste the time to find a picture of her to confirm.

wbb hit it right when he said that hiring a new coach is a crapshoot. We all shoot the crap about this daily. That said, perception is often seen as reality. Having this many coaches in a short period of time reflects negatively on the university and it should have cost smiley his job. If you are truly loyal to the university, this AD would never be acceptable, never! I might be wrong on a bunch of things, but I am not wrong about smiley. He is the smiling assassin. It’s all about him and his paranoia.If you are better than him, good luck getting hired. If you have great ideas, he takes credit for them and gives you nil. If you donate millions under his watch, people actually believe he is responsible for that. People donate money to the university. If they liked smiley so much they would give him millions directly.

Didn’t Pitt spend a lot of money on a search firm for the haywood/graham hires? Do they carry errors and ommissions coverage?

Comment by dhuffdaddy 12.20.11 @ 10:52 am

FYI, I happen to love Cuban sandwiches and Latin culture.

If Pitt hires Mario, I’ll be happy. After all, it can’t get any worse than with Pitt’s last hire.

My comments are my opinion only; we all have one. If my comments seem racist to you, then I apologize. Most of my comments in a previous post were tongue in cheek. I did mention that all three head coaching candidates would be great hires for Pitt. I just feel that Mario’s tenure at Pitt would be less than the other two northern guys. Oops, my bad.

Comment by MariettaMike 12.20.11 @ 11:03 am

I am not getting too excited about this coaching hire. I’ll let you know what I think about whomever they hire about this time next year. Those that are pushing Cristobal were also pushing Graham last year and we saw how that worked out.

Comment by John In South Carolina 12.20.11 @ 11:14 am

Have any of you looked at Mario’s career.
He was a coach for three years at Rutgers.
Rutgers in NJ. Snowy winters, Washington crossing the Delaware in snow and ice of a NOR’EAST’R, COLD!!!!!
I’m sure his wife has been a ski bunny before and buying a plane ticket on a budget that is almost 4-times his salary now would not be a problem.
the last guy used his wife as an excuse lets not follow suit!!!

Comment by Tackle made by Hugh 12.20.11 @ 11:20 am

Rutgers 2001 to 2003. Married his wife in 2006. I doubt she was in New Jersey with him but could be wrong.

Comment by Why me 12.20.11 @ 11:28 am

So yea, there are at least 7 solid schools in better-than-da-’Burgh metro areas that could poach MC. UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Texas, Georgia Tech, Maryland, UNC and Florida. Of those seven, UCLA, Cal, Texas, Miami and Florida are probably the biggest risks.
Comment by Baltimore in ’84 12.20.11 @ 9:40 am

You wrote a very lengthy blog Baltimore. But you have a lot of inaccuracies here.
Of the 7 schools listed ‘that are better da Burgh metro areas’, we can scratch several off your list.
UCLA just hired Jim Mora Jr (one down)
Stanford’s coach has only been there 1-2 years.
Georgia Tech and Atlanta is no more cosmopolitan than Pittburgh and has a very high crime rate.
Not a very desirable place to live at all.
Maryland just hired Randy Edsall in 2010 with a big contract. And DC is no great shakes at all and College Park is a dump IMO.
UNC is off the list as they just hired Larry Fedora. Plus Chapel Hill isn’t exactly cosmopolitan either. And it’s closest big city is Raleigh, which can’t compare to Pittsburgh.
Texas will never hire Mario Cristobal, you heard it here first.
Florida is in Gainesville, not Miami. Have you ever been to Gainesville? I have. Talk about Rednecks. The closest big city to Gainesville is Jacksonville, which does not compare at all to Pittsburgh.

Which is why Pittsburgh, not these other cities, consistently ranks in the Top 5 or Top 3 of most livable cities in America by various US magazines and publications.

Some of you guys need to get out more, visit or live in some other cities. Pittsburgh is a great town, which is why Walt Harris, a California guy picked Pittsburgh to live in, when he could have chosen anywhere to live.

Stop knocking your own city and your own university. It’s getting beyond ridiculous.

Comment by EMel 12.20.11 @ 11:38 am

@dhuff… what you seem to completely ignore is the fact that he’s coaching at FIU. The program basically didn’t exist and had next to nothing for facilities when he started there. Of course FIU was a distant 6th in the state of Florida.

That he got any kids at all to go there and built a winning program is pretty impressive in my opinion.

Also, exactly how big do you think a recruiting budget is at FIU??!! You think he had unlimited funds to travel all over the NE to try to bring kids to Florida?? Please consider all the “facts”

Comment by Pitt89 12.20.11 @ 11:46 am

If I am the person responsible for picking on Mario and his wife, I apologize. My comments were to be taken tongue and cheek. I don’t know Mario’s wife so my comments were out of line. I’m sorry.

My frustration is that I’m tired of Pitt being a pit stop type of football school. I’d like to see its next coach stay at least four years or more. And I don’t want to hear about the wife not liking the weather in Pittsburgh as a reason for leaving. But it’s a free world and business is business. When it gets down to the bottom denominator, it’s about the $$, always.

Comment by MariettaMike 12.20.11 @ 11:50 am

EMel there are thoes that say fickell was only HC for one year.
but they like chryst who has not been a HC at all
and that one year of HC for fickell was at ohio state not kent state.
and then they say he only went 6 and 6 he had a mess to deal with and a freshmen at QB maybe if he walked on water they would be happy.
that does not mean i dont want cristobal just saying fickell looks good to what do you think buddy.

Dominus Cimentarius
vertas et virtus

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 10:41 am

I blogged this the other day Frank, the diehard Ohio State person who stops at the same watering hole as we do and is never seen NOT wearing Ohio State gear. Thought it was laughable that PITT was even considering Fickell. Since I don’t know much about Fickell, other than that he played, coached, etc. at Ohio State, I’ll take what this die in the wool, scarlett and gray buckeye says as an assessment of someone that he knows more about than me. And I personally think people are just way too enamored with the fact he coached at Ohio State and led them to a 3-5 season in the Big 10. Again we aren’t going to the Big 10 or staying in the BigEast where can get away with mostly PA & Nj players. The ACC’s speed will eat us alive, like Miami did in last year’s game. And Miami was only 7-6 that year. We need a guy who can recruit Florida. So we get Florida and add it to our traditional recruiting area’s. Also Cristobal was at Rutgers so he knows New Jersey, where if I need to remind anyone, Ray Graham came from.

Comment by EMel 12.20.11 @ 11:59 am

Excellent point Emel. We ain’t New York or Chicago, but we ain’t too bad!!!!

Conde’ Nasta (sp?) just had a recent poll, where they picked two cities from about 25 countries you “had” to visit. 50 places, 2 each.

Guess who one of the two U.S. cities people “had” to visit was????? Yep. Google it.

Gainesville, been there once EMEL, the capital of Podunk!!!

San Fran, beautiful, get off the beaten path a few blocks, homeless and rif-raf everywhere.

Like Baltimore, get a couple blocks away from the inner harbor, take your life into your own hands.

Any city has pros and cons.

If she wants activity, she’s a puddle jumper from NYC if she wants on weekends.

Also, if they’re making millions, she could fly back to Miami and the warm weather during winter.

Don’t think this is an issue.

If she’s really involved in philanthropy, Pittsburgh is actually an excellent city for that, being a top university town, and top hospital town.

Again, no, we are not New York or Chicago, but we’re a step above about 90% of the other places.

Comment by Dan 12.20.11 @ 12:07 pm

Mrs. Cristobal does write about expanding her organization to include other cities. Pittsburgh would be a good start in the North East.

Comment by Why me 12.20.11 @ 12:16 pm

If I’m a guy like Mario, I would buy a highend condo at the Trimont on Grandview Ave. on Mt. Washington overlooking the Golden Triangle.

And he more than likely already has an ocean condo in Florida as many people in Pittsburgh do as well. You can be in Miami in a little over 2 hours by jet so if you’re recruiting Florida, that’s the perfect situation.

In fact what could be better than to have a Florida ocean condo and a condo at the Trimont,
making $2 Million a year with this view:

link to

Comment by EMel 12.20.11 @ 12:20 pm

understand EMel but like i said what did he want with the best players kicked off the team a freshmen QB the head coach gone things a mess.
I think your man sounds like a rich spoiled fan
who who is yelling fire the coach if he goes 8 and 4.


Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 12:25 pm

Aren’t most Buckeye fans. haha

Comment by EMel 12.20.11 @ 12:34 pm

I think if they went 8-4 and beat Michigan and Purdue, they would have been happy with that.

But 6-6, 3-5 in the Big 10 and losing to horrid Purdue and then Penn State and Michigan was too much for them to take.

Like I said the other day, this is all a crap shoot. THERE ARE NOT GUARANTEES WITH ANY OF THEM.

One thing…. I don’t hear anybody else wanting to hire Fickell or for that matter Cryst. Or maybe I missed something.

Comment by EMel 12.20.11 @ 12:44 pm

Hey dhuffdaddy, I got your Scrooge hanging around here somewhere…

Comment by Kenny 12.20.11 @ 12:59 pm

EMel no i said that same thing no one else wanted them that i know off i said that abought 5 posts ago
but i have not noticed that most searchs tend to look at coachs near there schools except for the hot picks like a oc at say bama or a dc at a big school or a hot HC from a small school but if you look at the lists of schools
they have 3 or 4 close coachs and a hot coach from some were else. kind of like our list.
bye close coachs i mean within 3 or so states from were they are, so maybe that is the reason.

but there is a new and better coach for us the NEW STACHE what could be better.

Dominus Cimentarius
vertas et virtus

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 1:03 pm

IMHO I think you are all way off base with regards to Jessica Cristobal needing the Miami culture so much. She’s not only gorgeous but intelligent. She graduated from Georgia State and has only lived in Miami since 2001. The Pitt Latin American Studies program ranks as one of the top three in the US and she could become very involved with it. I bet she would fit right in with the Pitt community as long as there isn’t too much drooling. Perhaps she’ll expand her magazine coverage to include the burg. The main question is will she give up her position as president of two magazines along with her Leading Ladies League community service she founded? I really don’t think the problem will be their desire to return to Miami but to leave it in the first place.

That being said, I believe Tomsula is the best fit of every name I’ve seen so far. He has the drive and a true love for the game on top of Pittsburgh connections. He’s a motivational force that could turn our D into something exceedingly special and he should be more than capable of selecting the finest assistants to build upon a very good group of young men.

Comment by JD 12.20.11 @ 1:03 pm

Mario may or may not be the guy and he may or may not be great, but let’s be realistic here, Why would he have better recruits at FIU, a program in still diapers in a state that not only has FL, FL ST, Miami, plus South and Central Florida which offer the ranger of championships and history to for the last 2, up starts with some traction.

In that situation, you do what you can and have to depend on the recruits doing… even exceeding expectations and getting a couple big wins over time. I mean, no matter how amazing one is as a recruiter, he still has to sell a relatively unproven program etc in FIU

Comment by JoeP 12.20.11 @ 1:09 pm

@notrocketscience, I too, have many vowels at the end of my name.

If you told me to go eat a hot sausage and peppers while playing bocce, drinking vino in the mid-day sun, I would ask you…….where????


Comment by Dan 12.20.11 @ 1:29 pm

EMel i would like to hear your take on this.
Ijust read the trib and there is a group at PITT boosters that are pushing hard for cryst.
now he is number 3 on my list
I think it should be cristobal as do you and our AD smiling stevie.
what do you think if it is cryst.

Dominus Cimentarius
vertas et virtus

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 1:35 pm

Dan what is wrong with hot sausage and vino or pigs in the blanket or stuffed peppers or ham and cabbage. i love it all.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 1:47 pm

JD – tell Jessica to call Elsie Hillman and ask her what there is for a women of drive and initiative to do in Pittsburgh.

This is the Pittsburgh inferiority complex at its most rampant.

Comment by Reed 12.20.11 @ 1:53 pm

I found it interesting that when comparing Paul Chryst to Todd Graham you referred to Chryst as the anti-Graham. Well if that is the case, then in reverse thinking when comparing Graham to Chryst wouldn’t that make Todd Graham the anti-Chryst? I need Rev. George’s confirmation on this one but I think that makes sense, at least to me.
Well, as TG has already stated he is now a sun DEVIL.LOL

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.20.11 @ 2:06 pm

Dr Tom love it!!!! Graham will be wearing jersey 666

Comment by giveitarest 12.20.11 @ 2:28 pm

Is the Tempe area code 666?

Comment by giveitarest 12.20.11 @ 2:29 pm

Not a thing Frank, I’m all in for hot sausage and all foods you mentioned!! LOL

Comment by Dan 12.20.11 @ 2:38 pm

Another big child molestation scandal to break in PA. I guess sports reporter Bill Conlin is in huge trouble. What the hell is wrong with people

link to

Comment by Why me 12.20.11 @ 3:07 pm

EMel…beware the Buckeye booster who constantly weas scarlet and gray…he is the look the othe way person who got OSU into the mess in the first place.
I am an OSU grad & Fan. Support Pitt more than OSU. Fickell is a very good choice…you don’t buy something at its most expensive price, you buy before it peaks. Most OSU fans are rabid….but few are knowledgeable about football. It comes with having experienced so little adversity.

Comment by SFPitt 12.20.11 @ 3:08 pm

EMel…beware the Buckeye booster who constantly weas scarlet and gray…he is the “look the other way” person who got OSU into the mess in the first place.
I am an OSU grad & Fan. Support Pitt more than OSU. Fickell is a very good choice…you don’t buy something at its most expensive price, you buy before it peaks. Most OSU fans are rabid….but few know much about football. It comes with having experienced so little adversity.

Comment by SFPitt 12.20.11 @ 3:11 pm

I wish people would quit worrying about Pitt being a stepping stone. Graham made a lateral move because he is a fraud. Like all frauds his greatest fear is being found out. So he moves before people figure him out. Pitt’s other coaches for the last 30 years have left because they were fired or resigned before being fired. Pitt’s administration was too cheap to pay the market rate for a top coach. I am optimistic that now that they were willing to pay TG $2 million, which is pretty much the market for all but the top half dozen schools, that they can attract a top coach. If he is then successful at Pitt that they will raise his salary and that of his assistants to keep him.

Comment by Houston Panther 12.20.11 @ 3:39 pm

Dan the stache forget the outher 3 it must be the stache.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 4:49 pm

Houston, what fans forget is that PITT could catch lightning in a bottle with a HC hire and not only could the guy be real successful but he may stay a long time.

Despite the rampant pessimism on this board that could happen just as easily as getting a complete rotter.

Comment by Reed 12.20.11 @ 7:09 pm

89 you made my point, which was he got the scraps, not necessarily for his recruiting prowess, but rather the lack of other schools to attend without traveling too far north. I am not disparaging the guy, but if everyone thinks he has great recruiting powers, I was saying that his Butgers contacts developed over three or four years didn’t pay off with commits north of the mason dixon line.

@houston panther, how else do coach’s leave other than resignation or being fired? Stumped me for a minute. LOL. Just got back from a week there and enjoyed the town!

Hopefully the coaching situation gets ironed out soon. Candidly, I am more concerned over our AD keeping his job versus finding a new ball coach.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 12.20.11 @ 8:50 pm

Pitt needs the football equivalent of Jamie Dixon. The closest coach I see out there that may fit is Tom Bradley. He is local and can recruit the Northeast.

Pederson is not smart enough to reach out to Bradley. FIU can keep Christobol.

Comment by gsmith 12.20.11 @ 9:56 pm

gsmith you got it fiu does not look that good but not bradley may be chryst.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.20.11 @ 10:09 pm

@dhuff… no I didn’t, but whatever you want to think… I said that he was able to outrecruit any schools with the facilities they had at FIU was a pretty big accomplishment.

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