The carpetbagging Graham has left us speechless (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Some days, being stuck at work is a good thing.
Such was the case yesterday. I didn't get to offer my thoughts about Todd Graham until later in the evening (which I did via an open letter) and that was probably for the better. Had my incoherent ramblings been posted, it wouldn't have been good.
So where are we now that we've all had a chance to settle down?
For me, I simply can't believe it happened. Not because I thought Graham would stick around. No, I always knew that wasn't a reality. He'd either become a success and leave after a few years or be canned. Turns out, neither happened. Graham had a bad year and was still attractive enough of a candidate that he was picked up by Arizona State.
First things first - the ASU coaching situation was a total disaster. That's part of the reason this whole thing happened. In case you missed it, the Sun Devils have bungled their coaching hire about as well as, well, Pitt did last year. They nearly hired June Jones, the head coach of, ironically, SMU - Pitt's opponent in the BBVA Compass Bowl. They were somehow scared off, though.
Graham wasn't on their radar, reportedly. And want to know the disgusting thing? Graham was the one who reached out to ASU, apparently ... not the other way around. Sports by Brooks has word that Graham apparently cold-called Arizona State. And this isn't sounding like a spur of the moment thing - this has been in the works. Graham practically admitted as much when he said during his press conference last night that he's already been looking at game film of of Arizona State.
Wha, wha, what?
Just when did that happen? As I told LB Max Gruder during a brief Twitter exchange last night (oh yeah, and he wasn't real pleased, by the way), maybe he was checking out game film during the Backyard Brawl.
Looking for even a glimmer of good news? I got some.
Several recruits, including big names Rushel Shell and Chad Voytik, had still pledged their allegiance to Pitt for now. That could change, obviously, and Pitt will almost certainly lose a few players, but this might not be the total class decimation that happened last year when Pitt had five or six guys left after the Dave Wannstedt/Michael Haywood debacle.
The other good thing is that it's better Pitt found this out about Graham fairly early. Better to get rid of this dirtbag a year in, than have him totally
revamp destroy the program and have Pitt be even farther in the hole. This sounds awful right now, but is really a bit of a blessing.
The bottom line is that Graham is a total fraud. Okay, so that's established - where should Pitt be looking for its next head coach.
I get killed for this every time I mention it - part of it's because it sounds old fashioned, but Pitt needs stability. They have a much better shot at that by bringing in someone either with ties to the university or ties to the area.
Frankly, I don't want to see this again. Pitt can't afford to have it happen again ... not if it wants to avoid being the butt of every joke in America.
Bringing in the best offensive mind isn't going to cut it. I know, I get it - most of you would probably sell your soul for a BCS game, but if the goal is to get better as a program, one or even a few BCS appearances isn't going to give you that. If you could guarantee me a few BCS bowls in exchange for a coach that sticks around for 2-3 years, sure I'll take that. But as we saw with Graham, bringing in a talented head coach is now guarantee of any type of success. Pitt could afford to gamble the last time around - but not this time.
So, Tom Bradley - I was a huge fan the last time. If Pitt went in that direction, it wouldn't bother me. But with the whole Penn State situation right now, I'm not sure that's the best way to go. I have no doubt that he'd do a great job and I think the public/fanbase would be fine with him. My concern would be recruiting and other schools using the scandal against Pitt - and they would.
To be honest, there are plenty of names out there. You can search almost any blog or site and find a list of candidates. I'm not there yet - too early and 99% of the stuff out there is pure speculation. Knock yourself out, though. I'm sure I'll talk about names later (probably soon) but for now, I'll pass. One thing Steve Pederson said last night in his presser was that he imagined some of the same names the last time around would be discussed again.
Say what you will about a 'Pitt guy', but there is something to be said for it. You can keep your offensive geniuses - I saw how that worked this time around. Give me stability.