The University of Pittsburgh’s football search for a new head coach is in full swing and Okalahoma State’s Dana Holgorsen and Temple’s Al Golden have emerged as Pitt’s top targets. Holgorsen and Golden are considered 1A and 1B on Pitt’s wishlist.
The Panthers will amp up their search this week and indications are they will have a new coach in place by next Friday.
Pitt expects to learn if they have a legitimate shot to land Holgorsen within the next 72 hours. Holgorsen who has been at the top Steve Pederson’s wishlist since day 1, is a tremendous offensive coach who would change the dynamic of Pitt’s offensive structure, something that is said to intrigue Pitt officials as concerns about the program’s lack of buzz has been mounting.
One knock skeptics is that if Holgorsen ends up at Pitt, the Panthers will have the wrong type of recruits on the offense side of the ball coming in.
That’s not necessarily true.
The 2011 group is a down year for linemen and Pitt has a lot of skilled players coming in that fit the type of system Holgorsen runs.
At Oklahoma State, he also used bigger receivers to run his scheme and Pitt has players like Todd Thomas and Devin Street to provide a good mix to make it work in 2011.
If Holgorsen gets the job, don’t look for that to have any impact on Jonathan Baldwin.
One Pitt source today called it a “disaster” if Jonathan Baldwin were to stay at Pitt next season. His mind is only on a paycheck and those close to Baldwin are certain that he’s going to the NFL.
There are plenty of evaluators out there who believe he will have a very short stay in the NFL but it has nothing to do with his talent.
For being labeled as a guy who throws the ball around, Holgorsen’s run-pass ratio was close 52-to-48 percent last season. One college scout believes Dion Lewis and Ray Graham would be dynamic in his system.
Temples Al Golden who is also a top target is a tricky situation. According to the Miami Herald, Golden is a finalist for the Hurricanes job. There are also concerns in Pitt that Golden wouldn’t be a long-term guy as he would jump at the chance for Penn State’s head coaching position if they actually open up the job for whenever Joe Paterno leaves.
Golden’s making roughly $550,000 this season which fits into the $1-$1.25 million range Pitt is looking to spend on a head coach.
Golden and Holgorsen have totally different offensive systems. Golden runs a pro-style offense, similar to Dave Wannstedt.
What’s intriguing about Golden is the type of staff he maybe able to put in place. There is talk that Golden will make a strong run in luring Penn State’s Tom Bradley to Pitt as the defensive coordinator.
The two are close friends and Bradley has expressed strong interest in Pitt’s head coaching position but he’s currently not on Pitt’s radar for the head coach job.
However, there’s some talk he would consider coming on board as Pitt’s defensive coordinator and join Golden’s staff as many in Penn State believe Joe Paterno won’t retire until Jay Paterno is named his predecessor.
Bradley lives in Pittsburgh and if Pitt’s willing to pay him a head coaches salary close to $1 million per season, it is said to be somewhat of a “possibility”.
If Golden gets the job, Frank Cignetti is also said to be a strong candidate to remain as offensive coordinator.
It’s a big longshot but Golden, Cignetti and Bradley would be quite a staff and a recruiting machine in Pennsylvania.
Cignetti, remains a backup plan at for the head coaching position if Pitt misses out on their top targets.
Another name to keep an eye on this week is Oklahoma State’s assistant offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. He’s a good offensive mind who develops quarterbacks and was at Nebraska with Steve Petersen.
Norvell is very much on Pitt’s radar.
Some dark horse candidates include Connecticut’s Randy Edsall. Edsall is said to have some interest in Pitt but he’s also reportedly a finalist in Miami. Edsall is a guy who has his eye on an elite job and not seen as a long-term guy. Don’t look for him to be in the mix.
Paul Zise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst are darkhorse candidates that could emerge in the process.
There was talk on Monday though the alumni chains that Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo was on Pitt’s wishlist but I have yet to get that confirmed.
Pitt has spoken with Boise State’s Chris Petersen but Petersen has his eye on an elite job. He’s also seeking close to $3 million per season and it’s not going to happen.
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