If it seems like ages ago since Dave Huxtable decided to leave Pitt for NC State, that's probably because it has been. It's been just over a month since his departure left a void at the defensive coordinator spot on Pitt's staff. The rest of the college coaching carousel (save for a few late spots like Oregon) has pretty much settled, which raises the question of what exactly is taking so long for Paul Chryst to hire a new guy. I know Chryst and the rest of the football staff has been conducting interviews, both before the BBVA Compass Bowl and since the team returned from Birmingham. I'm still working on confirming exactly who those interviews were, but it's safe to say the staff is looking. With that, I think we can deduce some things from the long wait.
First, I would hazard a guess that the eventual hire is probably NOT someone who is currently out of a job, for example, a guy like Todd Orlando. If the guy at the top of the Chryst's list was unemployed, there would be no problem naming him quickly and getting some staff stability in place.
I think there's at least a decent chance that we won't get an official announcement on the new coach until after National Signing Day (Feb. 6). If the guy the staff wants to hire is currently an assistant at another school, that would allow him to finish up recruiting at his current school before moving to Pitt. Notre Dame co-DC Kerry Cooks, a guy whose name I've heard bounce around, would fall under this category. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Pitt, either. Phil Bennett, for instance, didn't get hired until after National Signing Day in 2008. From most of the defensive recruits I've talked to, they don't mind one bit that there's no DC in place right now. As long as Chryst is there, they're in.
There's also the chance, of course, that the staff is waiting to interview someone who's currently an NFL coach on a team still in the playoffs. Paul Chryst's brother Geep is the 49ers quarterbacks coach, and the Niners assistant secondary coach Greg Jackson coached with Chryst for one year at Wisconsin in 2010. I think this is probably a less likely scenario, though. Jackson has a decent amount of collegiate experience, but none as a coordinator. I would think Chryst would prefer someone more experienced calling the defense so he can focus on offense.
If I were a betting man (which I'm not) I would think scenario "A" of waiting until after Signing Day to hire another college coach is the most likely situation. I know it seems like a long time to wait to fill a void on the staff, but if it means they get the guy at the top of their list, it's well worth it.
On a side note, I'll be on vacation next week, so blog updates will likely be sparse (unless, of course, a hire is announced). I'll still be around on Twitter, though, so follow me there @SWernerPG.