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.

@ 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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