Well, those of you who never trusted Todd Graham, thought he was a carpet bagger, thought he was full of a lot of hot air when he talked about faith and values - you were proven correct today when he bolted Pitt for Arizona State.
Graham left without talking to anyone, he left without talking to his players - or his boss, Steve Pederson - and he went to Arizoa State and was introduced at a news conference Wednesday night.
Pederson tried repeatedly to reach Graham Tuesday night to no avail and Graham actually refused to speak with an administrator who confronted him and tried to get an answer from him and by Wednesday morning, Graham was gone.
Here are some videos for your viewing pleasure:
Patterson will serve as the interim head coach for the BBVA Compass Bowl - and he will throw his hat in the ring for the head coaching job - but it seems like he'll end up with Graham at Arizona State, as will Mike Norvell.
Tomorrow I will have a much more comprehensive blog on my thoughts about today's activities but my initial thoughts are that if you read the tweets of the players, they are extremely irritated with this process and very disappointed in Graham, who talked at length about a "faith based" program based on relationships, character and discipline.
At least three player said to me tonight that Graham's exit is a disgrace, especially since they had to sit through day after day after day of his lectures about commitment and character and accountability. Meanwhile, he had one foot out the door all along.
But enough about Graham, it has been a long day - let's take a quick look at who may be the focus of this search, which, I am told began tonight (Wednesday) and the school is hoping to have wrapped up quickly:
So here is the first look at some obvious candidates:
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State - If Rhoads wants the job - and I am told he would listen this time around- he will be a serious, serious candidate. Steve Pederson admires him and he has all of the qualities of what this program needs. Rhoads was popular when he was here, he is obviously an excellent head coach and he knows that reaching much higher than what he has already achieved at Iowa State is very difficult but he'd have a chance to really do some big things at Pitt. Rhoads did not want to talk to Pitt about the situation last year but several things have changed - his mother passed away this summer (Rhoads is from Iowa so he is close to home and his parents) and Pitt is a better job now that the school is headed to the ACC. Rhoads only makes $1.15 million per year, so Pitt could easily afford him if they wanted him and vice veresa.
Teryl Austin, Ravens defensive backs - Austin is a former Pitt player and he wowed them with an excellent interview and a great plan. He stil lacks head coaching experience but he is young, dynamic an excellent recruiter. Austin is apparently on the short list of guys who will be considered and is obviously a guy who would not leave here if he got hired.
Tom Bradley, Penn State - The Penn State scandal makes it a tough hire but he would certainly listen if Pitt was interested. Was a finalist the last time around when Graham was hired but he is also a candidate at Penn State.
Frank Cignetti, Rutgers OC - Frank would have been the next coach after Wannstedt but he burned some bridges by interviewing for other jobs - or at least having his name mixed up in other jobs - right after he came to Pitt from Cal U. Still, he is a guy who will put his name in the mix and at least hope to get a legitimate shot.
Greg Gattuso, Maryland D-Line - A no-brainer in some ways and would obviously have plenty of interest in the job. He actually may have been the interim coach a few years ago had Pitt lost to Buffalo (on the heels of a loss to Bowling Green) but the Panthers hung on to beat the Bulls and the rest is history. He does have some head coaching experience - at Duquesne - and has good ties to Western Pennsylvania but like Cignetti he represents the final staff at Pitt under Dave Wannstedt and that is an era Steve Pederson would love to forget.
Mario Cristobal, Florida International - He was interviewed last time around, the committee liked him and he was legitimately interested in the job and so, if he could get back into the picture quickly. He is a rising star among coaches and though he has no ties to Pitt, he is a guy who could turn the program into a winner.
Mark Stoops, Florida State DC - Was extremely interested in the job last time around though I dont recall if he ever got a legitimate interview. Seems like a one-sided candidate (in other words, he's interested but Pitt isn't) and he is from Youngstown so you never know.
Phil Bennett, Baylor DC - OK, a longshot but Bennett really impressed people with the way he handled things as the interim coach last year and he does have head coaching experience. He is well respected but the problem is he has a nice big house in College Station and his wife and family lives there and aren't going to move.
Keith Patterson, Pitt DC - It was very telling that Patterson, when asked if he was following Graham to Arizona State, didn't have an answer because these developments were as shocking to him as they were to anyone else. Patterson is a bit of a longshot to get the job but he is the current guy and he will have an opportunity to impress people.
Sal Sunseri, Alabama assistant - He applies every time, he gets interviewed almost every time but he never seems to get the job.
Those are some of the early names being thrown around and while I know all have interest, the only ones who seem to have interest from Pitt's side - genuine interest - are Austin, Rhoads and Cristobal - though there will be other names to emerge over the next few days without a doubt.
I'll have much more on all of this tomorrow.