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.