University of Pittsburgh Football: Mario Cristobal Head Coach Front-Runner

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2011

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Coacg Mario Cristobal of the Florida International University Golden Panthers directs play against the Florida Gators, November 21, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Many people talk about the college football coaching carousel, but in the past calendar year Pitt has had its own carousel running. It’s third head coach since November 2010, Todd Graham, decided to take the vacant job at Arizona State.

Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will take over as interim head coach. He will coach the team in its appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

But who will take over after him? According to sources, Florida International University coach Mario Cristobal is the front-runner.

He has spent all five seasons as a head coach with the university, and really turned it around. The Golden Panthers have gone to a bowl the past two seasons, but not in the school’s history before that.

When he was hired in 2006, he was the first Cuban-American head coach in Football Bowl Subdivision. At 40 years old, he still has a lot of coaching left to do.

The hire would be a great fit for the University of Pittsburgh because Cristobal wins with defense. FIU currently ranks 16th in the country in points allowed per game. The city is tough and the Steelers are also known for their defense.

His success hasn’t happened over night, since the university is looking for a guy who will be there for a while. Especially, after the ugly way Graham decided to leave the program. Plus, with the Panthers joining the ACC in the near future, being able to recruit Florida will be of the utmost importance.

There are a number of coaches being looked at for this open position, but Pitt would be hard pressed to do much better than Mario Cristobal.