The news is officially in—Mike Haywood, after a domestic violence charge, is out as the head coach of Pittsburgh, without ever having taken the field as the program's head coach. Now, Pittsburgh heads back to the drawing board, and continues its head coaching search after Haywood's charges and off the field issues.
But now, the real question begins: with many options, which coaches could possibly stand out to become the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers, and help them become real contenders for the Big East Title, and the BCS Bowl bid that comes with?
One of their prime coaching candidates on the board is likely to be Rich Rodriguez, the current head coach at Michigan.
The hype that followed Rodriguez from West Virginia to Michigan certainly hasn't allowed him the kind of production on the field that he seemed to easily find at West Virginia. Some point it to his system, which does not size up well against Big Ten teams. His offenses aren't as explosive as they once were, and his defenses are among the worst in the BIg Ten and all of college football.
Rodriguez's spread offense didn't really translate too well come Big Ten playing time, nor did Michigan show any ability to execute it to its fullest.
With their big blow blowout loss to Mississippi State, Rodriguez's time in Michigan is dwindling. It looks as though he will be gone sooner rather than later.
If he were to take up the job at Pittsburgh, Rodriguez is an enticing hire for several reasons. His style of coaching and offense fits best in the Big East with their type of players, which are often smaller and quicker. He provides a bigger opportunity to win immediately with his style of offense, which fits perfectly in the Big East, which often has smaller, more undersized players in their spread offenses.
Another candidate to emerge could be Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Before Haywood, it was said that he was a leading candidate for the head coaching position at Pittsburgh.
He runs a high powered, productive offense at Oklahoma State, and his offenses have been among the best in college football the last few years. He is among the best and hottest offensive coordinators in the Big 12, and he could bring a much needed spark to a Pittsburgh team that looks to get over the hump into the BCS Bowl race.
With a high-powered spread offense that could spark and put an extra step in Pittsburgh Panthers football, Holgorsen is sure to be a popular name to be considered for the Pittsburgh Panthers.
One coach that should at least be on the Panthers' coaching board should be Kirby Smart, current defensive coordinator of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Kirby is a young candidate at age 35, but he has already done much to warrant a place as a head coaching candidate for most any school. He is a highly regarded defensive coordinator, and coaches one of the best defense in the SEC, and his defenses were a big factor in Alabama's rise back to fame in college football, next to Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
While he is young, Smart immediately brings to Pittsburgh a tougher defensive mentality and great potential and upside, given the deeds he has accomplished with Alabama's defense at such a young age. Pittsburgh is already a contender for Big East Championships, and a hard nosed, young defensive minded head coach can give bring them that physical edge from Alabama.
Whenever a head coach is needed, Bu Foster is always on the list. Current defensive coordinator of Virginia Tech, Foster is one of the more notable assistant coaches in college football.His defenses are usually productive, day in and day out. The 2010 season was no different, in which his defense is credited with over 35 takeaways.
While Foster's always on a list, he is never hired. Foster is sure to at least be on radar while Pittsburgh commences yet another search for a new head coach.
An underrated name that could bring flare offensively to the Pittsburgh Panthers is Cameroon Norcross, the offensive coordinator for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Many don't think of Nevada as a prime place to necessarily find a coach. However, Nevada boasts a consistent offense, and provides a good running game with a balanced passing attack. Nevada's running game is among the best in the WAC, and is one of the most underrated in the nation.
In Pittsburgh, Norcross would be provided good recruiting opportunities, and the head coaching job would better put his name on the coaching map. He is an offensive specialist, and brings with him an improved running game to the Pittsburgh Panthers, and his system would fit well in the Big East.
Another name that could possibly be on their list could be TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas. For the past two years under TCU head coach Gary Patterson, his defenses have been one of the best, most solid defenses in the Mountain West Conference, and ranking in the top twenty five in the nation.
What could Bumpas possibly bring to Pittsburgh from TCU? First, he'd bring a TCU way of coaching to the program. TCU is known for their well coached and disciplined players. They don't always have near the talent of players like the major BCS conferences do, but they somehow find ways to produce and become one of the most solid, disciplined college players in the nation.
Being a defensive specialist, he would immediately improve Pittsburgh's defense, and bring a tougher, yet more disciplined mentality to the team.
But, all in all, in comes down to whether Pittsburgh goes for the high paced offense, or the tougher defense to slow down the spread attacks that the Big East often bring.