** I thought it was going to be a very quiet night on the coaching search and it is for the most part except for this little nugget that I picked up from a good source -- Pitt and Tulsa's Todd Graham are now talking money, as in, how much it would take to bring Graham to Pitt.
That isn't much of a surprise considering Graham is the only known candidate who has had two talks with Pitt but here is what is different: Pitt is now inching closer to the territory where the source told me the school might have a real shot to get a deal done with Graham.
That is a real change from even this morning, when a source told me Graham appeared to be just posturing for more money from Tulsa. That still could be -- and perhaps even is -- the case but it certainly appears like Graham is genuinely interested in the job - and Pitt is genuinely interested in trying to sign him.
And in case you missed it - Graham makes about $1.3 million at Tulsa so it likely means it will take (at a minimum) about $1.8 million per year to bring him to Pitt. That is a lot of money considering the last two coaches (Dave Wannstedt and Michael Haywood) both had a base salary of about $1 million per year.
But that's the price of doing business these days and if it takes that much money to make a deal happen, then, it takes that much money - especially when you claim you want to be a big-time program and win championships.
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves let's remember a couple of things.
First, the job hasn't officially been offered to Graham - Pitt's officials are right now trying to see if they can put together an offer for Graham that he will legitimately consider. They two sides were not close when this process began -- over the past 24 hours they have closed the gap significantly enough that Graham is in the picture.
Second, even if they do put together an offer, there is no guarantee he will take it.
So I'd say this to be clear - right now it appears as if Graham is a coach of extreme interest who might even be considered the clubhouse leader along with Tom Bradley.
It sure seems like, according to a source, that he could very well become Pitt's next head coach if the suddenly shrinking gap that exists between what he wants and what Pitt wants to pay continues to shrink to the point where a deal can be done.
Again, a lot of deals fall apart because of money, a lot of deals never get too far down the road because of money and solet me stress this is a long way from becoming "a done deal."
It just has moved a little bit in that direction today with Graham.
I'll say it one more time as clear as possible in light of some recent unfortunate media misunderstandings - Graham has not even officially been offered the job yet and thus he is not close to being named the coach at this point.
He is simply the first candidate they've clearly been working with to see if a deal is possible or not because ultimately, if they are going to bring in a couple of finalists for a second round of interviews they want to be sure they are able to make an offer for each that they decide best fits their needs. Graham will be a finalist if Pitt believes it can meet his salary demands
Bradley, by the way, is expected to interview with Connecticut Sunday, and despite this new development, is still one of the top two candidates.
** The source also told me that tomorrow is the last day of the first round of interviews as former Pitt player Teryl Austin and Stanford assistant head coach Greg Roman are expected to interview with Pitt today. Roman, however, is going to be heavily involved in the early part of the Stanford search as he was one of three internal candidates identified by Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby who will be interviewed for the job. Bowlsby also, however, has his eyes on some big name coaches so it will be interesting to see who lands there.
I will have more on this by tomorrow as it is really something worth keeping an eye on.