5 Candidates To Replace Todd Graham for Pittsburgh Football
The Pittsburgh football program was hit with shockwaves on Wednesday when first-year coach Todd Graham announced he was leaving the Panthers for Arizona State. Graham went 6-6 in his first year in the Steel City, as the Panthers qualified for next month's BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.
The Panthers now become the 12th BCS-conference team having to replace their coach this offseason. The native Texan and his spread offense never quite jelled with the culture of the Pitt program, so expect athletic director Steve Pederson to focus on candidates with a Northeast or Midwest background.
Here are five candidates that Pederson should seriously consider for his third football coach hiring in less than 12 months.
Steve Addazio, Temple Head Coach
Addazio took much of the heat for the downfall of Florida's offense in 2010, but even schematic master Charlie Weis couldn't move the ball with the players in Gainesville. Addazio led Temple to an 8-4 record and a New Mexico Bowl berth in his first season in Philadelphia.
The Connecticut native has strong Northeast ties, and he's known as a top-notch recruiter. Temple's running game is among the best in the nation. Flashiness is not required to generate excitement in Pittsburgh, so Addazio's ground-based attack might be just what the Panthers need.
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin Offensive Coordinator
The Badgers running game has arguably been the best in college football over the past two seasons. Running back Montee Ball was a Heisman finalist, and Wisconsin won its second consecutive Big Ten title.
Switching the offense back to a run-based attack that the Panthers ran under Dave Wannstedt may be the way to go. Pitt should have Ray Graham healthy by the fall, and has a verbal commitment from Rushel Shell, one of the top running back prospects in the country.
Doc Holliday, Marshall Head Coach
Holliday's recruiting connections in the state of Florida are plentiful, a perfect quality as Pitt begins its transition into the ACC. The West Virgina native and WVU alumnus is currently coaching at another one of the Mountaineers' rivals, so coaching a team hated in Morgantown would not be a deterrent.
He led Marshall to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in his second season, and upset Big East co-champion Louisville on the road. His passion and intensity would be a great fit for a program needing stability and guidance after all the drama of the past 12 months.
Greg Mattison, Michigan Defensive Coordinator
In his first year in Ann Arbor, Mattison helped the Wolverines defense go from one of the worst in the nation to a top-10 unit. He has also coached at both Notre Dame and Florida, and is an excellent recruiter.
Mattison's age, 62, might be a concern, but this isn't a massive rebuilding project. The pieces are in place to win quickly at Pitt with just some minor tweaking.
Sal Sunseri, Alabama Linebackers Coach
The Broyles Award candidate is the father of Panthers quarterback Tino Sunseri, and a 1982 graduate of the university. He's coached All-American linebackers Rolando McClain, Donta Hightower and Courtney Upshaw in his three seasons in Tuscaloosa.
Sunseri also coached linebackers at Pitt in the late '80s and early '90s. Even though Dave Wannstedt eventually was fired, another attempt at bringing "one of their own" back to Pittsburgh would likely sit well with the Panthers fanbase.