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NCAA Issues and a New Candidate

Written by Paul Zeise on .

** Here is another seemingly legitimate candidate that has emerged, and this one has ties to Steve Pederson and he is the first minority candiate we've heard about. Oklahoma assistant offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, who worked at Nebraska as the offensive coordinator under Bill Callahan when Pederson was there is said to be on the list of candidates that Pederson would like to interview. Norvell has been at Oklahoma since 2008, was the offensive coordinator at UCLA for a year and he's had stops with the Raiders, Colts, Iowa State, Wisconsin and Iowa. He is said to be very well respected by Pederson because he is a straight-laced, no-nonsense kind of guy and he fits the image of a family man of impeccable moral character that Pederson is looking for. Here is a blurb from his bio about his offense at Nebraska....

"* In 2006, Nebraska offense was one of just two schools to rank in the top 25 in rushing, passing, total offense and scoring offense. The Cornhuskers ranked No. 23 nationally in passing (244.1 yards per game); No. 23 in rushing, (170.5 yards per game); No. 14 in total offense (414.6 yards per game); and 17th in scoring (30.6 points per game).

• In 2006, NU QB Zac Taylor was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. He set school records with 3,197 passing yards, 26 TDs and 3,165 total yards. The 9-5 Huskers won the Big 12 North title."

** Although Norvell is now in the picture as a person of interest, the focus of the search still seems to be on Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who Pederson is extremely high on and is reportedly going to try and interview sooner rather than later.According to the Tulsa World, Holgorsen was not at practice tonight but that's because he is in Houston and then he is on to Dallas and he is recruiting but all indications are that he will meeting with Pitt at some point soon.

** As I reported yesterday, Pitt has received permission from Temple to speak with coach Al Golden and there is a growing sentiment that Golden is a much stronger candidate than it first appeared - assuming he doesn't get the Miami job. Golden, like Norvell, fits the image that Pederson is looking for - tough, disciplined, clean cut, etc., etc. and he is a guy who will run a program with a no nonsense approach. And while he is a defensive guy, he will run a pro-style offense and the Panthers have the personnel already in place to win as soon as next year. Golden may not be the sexy choice among Pitt fans - get over the Penn State thing, already -- but if he can convince the brass that he is serious about the Pitt job and won't leave in a year or two when Joe Paterno finally decides to step aside, he could actually end up as the guy. Again, Pitt fans are enamored with a lot of things about a lot of candidates but at the end of the day, they want to win and this guy will win. He has cleaned up an absolute mess of a program and has made it into something far better than anyone thought it could be.

** Those three are the three known candidates at this point but two other names to keep in the back of your head, at least according to a couple of people who have some knowledge of the situation, are St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. There is no evidence yet that either has been contacted by Pitt, but both are apparently coaches Pederson has some interest in talking to. Again, like I wrote yesterday, you just have to keep chopping through all the nonsense and rumor mill stuff to get to the bottom of what is real and what is just agent-speak and whatever else.

** For tomorrow's paper I am writing about a couple of secondary NCAA infractions the Pitt football team has had to self-report and in turn has received a warning letter about them. It is a very gray area but here goes nothing - apparently a couple of assistant coaches mistakenly texted prospective recruits (which is against the rules) instead of sending an e-mail via the telephone (which is legal). There was also some letter sent to recruits which was sent on a letterhead that didn't meet the NCAA criteria for what is within the rules and what is not. I know, not earth shattering stuff, but just something to file in the back of your heads. All of it added up to not more than a warning from the NCAA and mostly because they  -- and from what I am told the number of accidental texts is less than ten -- were all just innocent mistakes. If you have a blackberry, you know how easy it is to do - send an e-mail instead of a text or vice versa. In one case, for instance, a recruit was at the facility for an unofficial visit and texted "I'm here" to one of the assistants whoallegedly responded something like "OK, be down to get you" not thinking that he needed to respond via e-mail, not text. A similar thing happened when a recruit texted from a new phone - thus his name wasn't in the assistant coaches phone - and the assistant allegedly responded "who is this." Again, it is absolutely silly, I know, but rules are rules and thus Pitt gets a slap on the wrist for, what appears to be at most, a lack of attention to detail.

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