Right around this time last year, Paul Rhoads was mentioned as a potential replacement for Dave Wannstedt at Pittsburgh.
A year later, the Iowa State head coach is again connected to the newly-minted opening, although this time around it may be more than as just a periphery candidate.
It’s been just a couple of days since Todd Graham ditched the Panthers for Arizona State, but the search for a replacement is apparently in full swing. Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the school has already reached out to potential candidates, including Rhoads.
In fact, Zeise writes, Rhoads “appears to be the most coveted of the group as Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson and chancellor Mark Nordenberg like and respect him and think he is an excellent football coach.” That interest could be a two-way street; Zeise adds that Rhoads “is now open to at least listening to what Pitt has to say now and likely will talk with the administration about the position Graham vacated Wednesday.”
In a subsequent posting, Zeise writes that Rhoads is “is more than likely going to stay put” at ISU, although that’s far from being written in stone.
Aside from being a YouTube sensation, Rhoads would (again) be attractive to the Panthers on at least a couple of fronts. One, his 18-19 record with the perennially moribund Cyclones, including the huge upset over Oklahoma State earlier this year, shows he can wring every last bit of talent — and then some — out of the talent level at his disposal. And, two, Rhoads is very familiar with the area; from 2000 through 2007, he served as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator.
In addition to Rhoads, Zeise mentions Ohio State assistant Luke Fickell, former Illini head coach Ron Zook, Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren as candidates to whom the school has already reached out per the Post-Gazette.
Fickell and Chryst are believed to have either already interviewed for the opening or will do so in the very near future.
Additionally, there have been reports that FIU head coach Mario Cristobal could be a front-runner for the job, and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster has thrown himself into the mix as well.