It’s going on a week now since Pitt has let go of former Head Coach, Dave Wannstedt. All week, names have been passed around of who people think is going to replace him. Names like Bill Cowher, Chris Petersen, Jon Gruden and even Les Miles have come up from fans. You’re kidding me right? The jaw is going to come Coach at Pitt but especially walk into a 17 year old’s house and kiss their behind? I don’t think so. Fans have a tendency to be a little to hopeful and outrageous with their wishes sometimes, this being the perfect case. Pitt is a good program, however not an elite one. Florida and Miami are elite programs where Coaches would choose before Pitt. With all the other openings in the college ranks, Pitt ranks third in my mind. There are plenty of people who would love to come Coach here and even if it is used as a stepping stone, who cares?
I know a few former players under Wannstedt at Pitt and they were very angry to see him go, as were a lot of the current ones. You can’t put all the blame on him, but unfortunately, more times than not, the Coach is the one who has to answer for the disappointment. Sure he is a Pitt Alumni, is a great person and cares about the students more than most Coaches do. It’s unfortunate but in this day and age, it’s all about the wins and the business side of it. Six years is a long time at one school nowadays in coaching. You won’t see a Paterno like run ever again. Now that there has been plenty of time to talk about the candidates, who is Athletic Director Steve Peterson going to announce will run the program? Everyone will have their say, but here are my top four choices.
1. Dana Holgorsen – The Offensive Coordinator at Oklahoma State is a hot name on the market and will end up as a Head Coach by the beginning of next year. The question is where? Holgorsen’s offense led the nation this year and he is looked at as an offensive genius. Holgorsen also led the highly touted offenses at Houston and Texas Tech. With that type of mind coming into Pitt, he could do wonders here. There have been talks that the two parties have talked but Holgorsen has denied that. It doesn’t mean that his reps haven’t talked to them though. Being a great coordinator doesn’t always lead to success as a Head Coach, just ask Charlie Weiss about that. If it gets announced that Pitt hires Holgorsen, I will be very very happy.
2. K.C. Keeler – Keeler is the Head Coach of the University of Delaware and many of you may say ‘why him?’ Well, Keeler reminds me alot of the Jim Tressel situation when Ohio State got him. Tressel came from a small program, Youngstown State where he had a lot of success, similar to that of Keeler. Keeler is 51, compared to Tressel who was 48. The results speak for themselves for the success at Ohio State. Keeler has a National Title under his belt, has groomed ironically enough former Pitt transfer Joe Flacco into a solid pro. He also will have his Quarterback Pat Devlin into the NFL this year. Keeler runs a spread offense, which I think suits the Panthers perfectly. He has been named as one of the top recruiters in America by American Football Monthly Magazine. Will there be a learning curve, sure. It will be taking a chance hoping that it works out the way that it did for Ohio State, but it’s a chance worth taking.
3. Tom Bradley – Now isn’t this an interesting pick. Bradley has long been known as the man in waiting behind Joe Paterno at Penn State. With Paterno refusing to step down as Coach, when will Bradley have enough? Many won’t want a Penn State man as their Coach, but what better way to hurt Penn State then to take their main man. Bradley is one if not the best recruiters in the Nation. Talking locally, he owns Pennsylvania and especially Pittsburgh. He is one of the most respected men and I think he would do an outstanding job. Getting Bradley would hurt Penn State which should make any Panther fan happy. Maybe if Bradley jumps ship, Paterno will want revenge and the rivalry can get started again. Don’t get your hopes up about that though. Bradley’s roots in Pittsburgh run deep as his Father played Basketball for the University and he has been on record of saying that he loves the City.
4. Mike Leach – Now first off, let me make myself clear. Leach would be number one on my list if there was actual hope that he would come to Pitt. There are a few factors that won’t let this happen. First, his price tag. Pitt paid Wannstedt under Two Million Dollars. Baylor’s Coach almost made as much as him. Baylor, yes you read right. Leach’s price tag will be around 3 or 4 Million. Will Pitt be willing to pay that? Second, Pitt takes pride in character and doesn’t like any baggage attached. As well documented, Leach has the whole locking Adam James in a dark tool shed while suffering a concussion thing hanging over his head. No big deal right? How would a visit to a recruits house go with Leach? “Hello Mrs. and Mrs. Jefferson, we are really interested in Freddy here and think Pitt is the right place for him to go. We have the facilities as well as the education to help him succeed.” “Well, we like Pitt, but when he runs an out route instead of a slant, are you going to put him in a walk in freezer for 3 days?” Needless to say, the baggage is going to hurt Leach, even though he is a great Coach.
Regardless of who they hire, the main thing Pitt has to do is prove they are willing to pay for a Coach. Vanderbilt just gave their new Coach over 3 million. Vanderbilt can do that but you can’t Pitt?!?!?!? More than likely, Pitt won’t hire any of the guys I said and I’ll look like an idiot but hey I’m ok with that. Whether it’s a no name, a hotshot coordinator or an established Coach, I am looking forward to the next era that is Pitt football.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com