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December 20, 2014

What Constitutes “Go Big”

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 6:43 am

When I saw the FootballScoop.com story, I cringed. Not because I didn’t want Pitt to aim high. Not because I don’t think they couldn’t get a really good coach.

Simply because a story like that sets up disappointment and ridicule. Because when you look around the college football landscape, there aren’t that many realistic “go big” options for a head coach.

The landscape has changed. Fewer coaches are just chasing a big paycheck. The money gets absurd at the higher levels, but to some degree it flattens out. Coaches are looking as much at sustainability and the long-term.

The Dan Mullen thing has gone nowhere. Well, not quite nowhere. It seems to have just gone away. And after that?

That creates the question of what it means to “go big.” The story suggested a big name coach, and reasonably, most people seeing that phrase would think the same.

Yet outside of Dan Mullen, who is there that could fit the bill and is someone Pitt could legitimately hire away? I mean without going the route of the rumored “Godfather” offer from Michigan to Jim Harbaugh. Florida, which had once gone out and grabbed Urban Meyer, this time had to take Jim McElwain from Colorado State as the best option available in 2014.

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December 19, 2014

Going Big Or Not

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 10:35 am

I guess new Chancellor Gallegher is looking to make a huge mark early in his Pitt tenure. The “mutual” decision for Steve Pederson to resign wasn’t enough, the coaching search is going to take on mythic proportions.

Multiple industry sources told FootballScoop today that Pitt’s chancellor plans to “go big” with this hire.

We were told that Pitt plans to invest heavily in the program both in terms of dedication to staffing and to facilities and operations. Two sources said “significant new commitment to the program” will be announced in connection with the upcoming announcement once a new head coach comes on board.

Sources tell us not to expect Pitt to hire a coordinator. “Their initial list is all current and former head coaches.”

The name that came up — in no small part thanks to Fox Sports college football writer Bruce Feldman — is Dan Mullen. The current Mississippi State head coach. That would constitute a “go big” hire.

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Know Your Candidate: Doc Holliday

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Justin @ 10:34 am

One candidate that has stuck around as a potential head coach is Marshall’s Doc Holliday. While no name can be considered confirmed, the amount of smoke leads me to believe there’s a fire there. I do think the smoke is coming from Holliday’s camp and some of that desire is to stick it to WVU for not hiring him over Bill Stewart after Rich Rodriguez left.

Hates WVU? Check! (Not really, he’s a WVU grad, just roll with it) (more…)

Forget the AD for Now

Filed under: Athletic Department,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:40 am

I’m going to take another run at spelling something out. There is no way Pitt hires an Athletic Director before hiring a football coach. None. Nada. Zip. Hiring an AD is an executive level position that takes time. It isn’t a short list the Chancellor keeps in his drawer for when the time comes.

While the impulse is to think of it as a pro sports analogy as a GM, and you need to have the GM in place before hiring a coach, it doesn’t work in this situation.

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December 18, 2014

The Day After

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Hire/Fire,Rumors — Justin @ 10:26 am

As the dust settles on one of the most eventful days Pitt Football has had in a long time, reflection feels unnecessary. The removal of Steve Pederson as Athletic Director was just as much about the future of Pitt as it was the past. While the questionable decisions of his tenure will never be fully vetted, the future suddenly looks a little brighter. Pitt Football looks ready to take a step up. The status quo was no longer acceptable to Chancellor Gallagher. The hope Dave Wannstedt brought when he promised a return to prominence doesn’t seem crazy anymore. While the who, how, when, and if are still up in the air, at least the questions feel like there could be an answer soon. (more…)

December 17, 2014

Wisconsin upstages Pitt’s basketball game with a press conference to announce Paul Chryst as their new head coach? Fine, bring that knife. Pitt brought a gun.

Steve Pederson’s second tenure running the athletic department ended abruptly Wednesday when Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced a “change” in leadership, according to a university news release.

The announcement was made at 7 p.m., precisely when Wisconsin was introducing Paul Chryst as its new football coach, officially ending his three-year run with the Panthers.

Pederson, 57, was let go with four years left on his contract. The buyout will cost Pitt more than $2 million. Pederson made $577,083 in 2013 before signing a five-year extension that June. In 2013, he was Pitt’s fourth-highest paid employee.

Pederson and Gallagher said the decision was “mutual.”

“With major decisions to be made about the future of football, I thought it was in the best interest of the University of Pittsburgh for Chancellor Gallagher to assemble his own team,” Pederson said in a statement.

And I have a bridge to sell you if you think this was mutual.

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Time To Really Look

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:04 am

So Wisconsin has a press conference set for 6pm Central Time (7pm for those of us in the East) this evening.

Bastards. Just happens to be the same time Pitt tips against Manhattan, and I would always rather be focused on an actual game than all the other stuff.

On the bright side, there is no surprise at this point. No abrupt departure or hastily arranged press conferences. This has been the week-long build since Gary Andersen stunned Badgers everywhere by making the move to Oregon State.

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December 16, 2014

Just A Matter of Time

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:00 am

That’s what it feels like right now. Just waiting for the Wednesday deadline so the mandated charade can be ended.

Oh, Paul Chryst was down in Fort Worth for a couple hours to plug the Armed Forces Bowl. Ostensibly to promote the game and try and sell tickets. The press conference, however, had no live stream (or recording for later) and no transcript was available. Man, even Birmingham was better prepared than this.

Still in a bowl game that will likely have two interim coaches running the show, perhaps no real record is for the best.

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December 14, 2014

Just Say NO

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 11:32 am

As we wait for Wednesday and ultimately whether Paul Chryst returns to Madison, there is no way not to speculate on who could get the job.

That means listing possibilities. Listing pros and cons and all that. That’s boring after a while. And let’s face it, it is done by so many. So, in an effort to shake things up, I’m just going to list some of the names that get tossed out there that should not be allowed anywhere near the Pitt head coaching job.

These are just some of the bad calls that should be met with eye rolls and a dismissive wave.

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December 13, 2014

Justin had the run down/recap of where things stand. It’s… weird. And a bit uncomfortable.

We were all certain Chryst was gone yesterday morning. Now we are mostly certain. Thanks to the job posting laws for what is ostensibly a state job in Wisconsin, the hiring of Chryst can’t happen until at least Wednesday, December 17 — Happy Hanukkah everyone. (Yes, I know it starts the evening before but it is the first full day so roll with it.)

That means Chryst and Pitt is in a weird place. Pitt can’t fire him, because then they lose whatever buyout remains on his originial five-year deal. Not to mention, they can’t take the chance that somehow the Wisconsin thing falls through and suddenly they have to keep paying Chryst.

Conversely, Chryst can’t really resign because he doesn’t really have a job yet. He may have assurances and belief that the Wisconsin job is his, but there is nothing smart about giving up the present job until is a reality. So both sides have to pretend that the status quo is as it was a week prior. Even if everyone just wants a quick resolution so things can move forward.

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December 12, 2014

And so it seems the era of Chryst ends with the balance and even keel he preached. A 19-19 record after three years. Perfect balance.

I can’t be particularly angry at Chryst for choosing to go back to his alma mater. His state. Where all his ties are. I can be pissed at everything else around it, but not the decision.

It’s just hard to believe that with such “meh” results, Pitt is staring at yet another coaching search. I had hoped that if the program had to start looking this soon it would be because of success. Not Wisconsin giving Pitt a run for its dysfunction.

Technically it is not official. Yet, it seems to be all but. Paul Chryst will leave Pitt and return to Wisconsin.

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December 10, 2014

The Wisconsin Thing

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire,Rumors — Chas @ 9:03 pm

Last week Nebraska surprised everyone with the hire of Mike Riley from Oregon State to replace Bo Pelini. That was a stunner no one saw coming. That is until late this afternoon when Oregon State hired Dave Andersen from Wisconsin.

Now, Wisconsin has to hire a new coach and Paul Chryst sits right smack dab in the middle of the speculation.

Just as it made sense for speculating on him when Bielema left for Arkansas two years, ago it still holds true today. A native of Wisconsin. Lots of ties to the AD and the school itself. And in much the same way Ohio State fans held Walt Harris in higher esteem than many Pitt fans did after a time, Wisconsin fans still hold Paul Chryst in a semi-revered status for his work as an OC.

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December 3, 2014

The Price of Stability

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire,Rumors — Chas @ 8:03 pm

You would think with a career coaching record of 19-19; coming off a 6-6 season — again; home losses to Youngstown State and Akron on the resume; and a recruiting style best described as laid back, that Paul Chryst would not be in the annual coaching carousel discussion for December 2014.

And but for one big red N, that would be true. There are plenty of rumors and ruminations all day that Nebraska at the very least has interest in talking to Chryst.

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June 18, 2014

Marlon “Smoke” Williamson was introduced as a new Pitt assistant coach yesterday.

“We are excited about Marlon becoming a member of the University of Pittsburgh community and I know he is ecstatic to be coming aboard,” Dixon said. “As a former point guard with strong knowledge of the game, Marlon will help us in recruiting, scouting and player development. We are fortunate to have a coach with his well-rounded background. Marlon is also extremely excited to be a part of our staff considering his family ties to Pittsburgh.”

The former YSU point guard is openly ambitious and perhaps a little cocky.

“Actually, my pursuit is to become a great assistant coach right now. In the future, I want to become a head coach,” Williamson said. “When you say ‘great assistant,’ you have to fill a lot of bullets. Recruiting is definitely one, but I don’t want to be singled out as just a recruiter. I can get in the film room and break down Xs and Os. The relationship with the players is a huge factor for you as a coach. It’s much easier to play for someone you respect and love versus someone you just play for. That’s what I want to strive for as a professional in this business, being able to relate to the coach, co-workers on the staff, as well as the players and their parents.”

So, like [UMass Coach Derek] Kellogg before him, Williamson made a move to put his career in an upward trajectory.

“This is a big step,” he said. “When you talk about the University of Pittsburgh and ACC, you’ve got to go get players first. Our position as assistants is to put Coach Dixon in a position to be great. I look at coach Dixon as a legend. I don’t think he hired Coach Knight or Coach Barton to be mediocre. We want to give him the tools that he can go coach those guys. Our goal is to win the last game. Why not us?”

These are not bad things for a young assistant.

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June 16, 2014

It’s been something of an open secret for at least a week or so. One of the lead candidates to join Jamie Dixon’s coaching staff has been Marlon “Smoke” Williamson. An assistant coach on the UMass staff.

Williamson is an interesting choice, and not exactly what was expected. He’s a Youngstown State grad and his ties in recruiting are more midwest. Especially the Detroit area as he is reasonably tight with the AAU program known as “The Family.”

Williamson had spent the previous nine years working with The Family, an AAU program in Detroit, Mich. where he served as President of Youth Operations and Head Coach.

Williamson’s duties with The Family included opponent scouting, practice scheduling, monitoring of the athletes’ academic progress and counseling them on educational programs.

Some of the top players to emerge from The Family include Joe Crawford (Kentucky), Jordan Crawford (Indiana & Xavier), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis), Draymond Green (Michigan State) and Malik Hairston (Oregon).

Both Matt Steinbrink at PantherLair and Chris Dokish have been tweeting about Williamson being a lead candidate, and today ESPN’s Jeff Goodman also tweeted it.

The upside is that Williamson is young — about the same age as Brandin Knight — and ambitious. He has AAU ties, which are a definite plus. The negative is that he’s still fairly new and has not shown track record of bringing talent yet. Plus his base for recruiting ties is not an area Pitt has mined — and has some stiff local competition with Michigan and Michigan State.

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