Back to square one is the best way I can describe this situation from this end, so the best thing we can do is go through the list of guys who have been linked to this search and weed out those who aren't likely to be hired or haven't been interviewed so we can stop talking about them and move on:
Al Golden - Obviously, off the board, but without a doubt one of the top candidates when this process started.
Dana Holgorsen - He was a candidate of some degree but he is not in the mix at this point and that is all that matters to us. And just to be crystal clear about it and fair - he was not at the point where the key decision makers at Pitt were considering him or had taken the steps to begin looking deeper into his background and checking his references as we had previously reported.
Tom Bradley - Depsite a lot of people pushing for his candidacy, he has not yet, as far as I can tell from everyone I've talked to, even been granted an interview.
Frank Cignetti - He is in the same category as Bradley. The same person who told me this morning that Holgorsen is not in the mix said there isn't likley going to be any internal candidates. This of course cannot be verified because Pitt is not talking, but again, it was the first person who told me that Holgorsen's candidacy was being overstated so I have no reason to doubt it.
Sal Sunseri - Again, he is not on the radar and hasn't even been given an interview or even the courtesy of a "thanks, but no thanks"
Brady Hoke - He's publicly denied contact, which as we know means nothing because of the semantics and doublespeak and all, but more importantly it is well known the job he is posturing for and waiting for is at Michigan. This was actually said by his athletic director publicly and on the record, which is really a strange situation.
Teryl Austin - Put him in the category of guys like Cignetti, Sunseri and Bradley as guys who were holding out hope that they could get involved in the process and get an interview but so far, from what I understand, he hasn't been contacted. Austin, by the way, is rumored to be a candidate for the job as defensive coordinator at Texas.
Paul Rhoads - Has made it very clear he is not interested in leaving Iowa State at this time.
Mark Stoops - At this point, like a few other guys on this list -- his interest in the job hasn't yet been returned from Pitt.
Chris Petersen - Another coach who Pitt sent some back-channel feelers to who is (a) too expensive and (b) not leaving his current job for Pitt.
That leaves one guy who we know there has been some contact with, Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood, left in terms of the known candidates who might still be a possibility. But like I wrote earlier, I have a hard time believing he will be the guy as there will be more names to come out over the next few days.
The other three names I was given by people of some degree of credibility as names to watch (though I can't verify contact with any of them yet) as the process goes forward were Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and St. Louis Rams coach Pat Shurmur. And Oklahoma offensive assistant Jay Norvell, who does have ties to Steve Pederson but was recently promoted at Oklahoma.
Oh, and how can I forget this one other name - ESPN's Bruce Feldman posted on his Twitter that he "heard 61-year old former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, a PA native, may get an interview for the Pitt coaching vacancy."
All I can say about that one is this - no disrespect to Pasqualoni (who I thought did an excellent job at Syracuse and got a raw deal when he was fired, or pushed out, or made to retire, or whatever the spin was up there) --- but if Steve Pederson tried to hire a 61-year old guy who hasn't been a head coach since 2004 and who had at least four losses in seven of his last eight seasons -- including going 6-6 in his last two -- he should be escorted out of the Petersen Events Center and told to turn in his university ID.
So in short, the list of candidates from this point forward needs to be rebuilt as the guys who made contact with Pitt and haven't heard back by now aren't likely going to be getting in the mix and outside of Haywood, none of the other guys who have had some contact are in the hunt, either.