Insider Only Coaching Search: Pitt prepared to go hard after Paul Rhoads and the Iowa State coach intends to listen

Chryst, Stoops also emerging as “legitimate” candidates
Pitt’s search for a new football coach is accelerating and the school has a very small shortlist of three to four candidates at the top of their wishlist, and former defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads has emerged as the school’s top choice.

Sources close to the situation indicate that Pitt expects to learn in the next 48-72 hours whether they can lure Rhoads to Pittsburgh. Rhoads is prepared to listen to Pitt this time around
The school in the past 24 hours has been gauging Rhoads interest in the job through backchannels and school officials are cautiously optimistic that Rhoads has serious interest in the job.
Pitt, sources say, could be prepared to offer Rhoads the job by the end of the weekend. Athletic director Steve Pederson would love to have a coach in place before Christmas and is moving fast to get stability to the program.
An issue though for Pitt is that Iowa State does not play their bowl game until December 30th. Talk going around from former close associates of Rhoads is that Rhoads is such a prideful person that he wouldn’t accept the Pitt job before he coached his team in the bowl game. We’ll find out if that becomes an issue.
Pitt made Todd Graham $2 million per season. Rhoads is making under $1.2 million at Iowa State.
If Rhoads decides to turn down the opportunity to return to Pitt, the search is expected to expand greatly.
Near the top of Pitt’s wishlist is also Wisconsin offensive Paul Chryst who interviewed for the job last year and has strong interest in the job. Many inside the industry believe Chryst would jump at the chance to coach at Pitt.
Along with Rhoads, the rep for Chryst has been contacted in the past 24 hours.
Right now the search is said to be on four to five coaches at the most, with Rhoads the early top target, and Pitt ties do not appear to be a priority after Rhoads.
The two other coaches Pitt is eyeing right now is Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Paul Zeise of the Post-Gazette reports.
There is said to be more of a mutual interest between Stoops and Pitt than Fickell and Pitt who was Ohio States interim coach this season. Word yesterday going into the search is that Pitt has becoming a player in the Florida recruiting scene as a priority with the school moving into the ACC. Stoops fits the bill as does Florida International’s Mario Cristobal who interviewed last year but is a coach Pitt officials are said to be on the fence about.
Meanwhile, an interesting dynamic is that Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin is not a top candidate at this point and Austin’s agent confirmed tonight that he has yet to be contacted by Pitt.
Many believed Austin would be a leading candidate for the job.
Another coach with Pitt ties, Sal Sunseri, is under little to no consideration for the job.
Anyone hoping for Tom Bradley….. It’s not going to happen and he’s not under consideration from the administration. There is said to be a better chance of Todd Graham returning than the school hiring Bradley.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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