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Summer Study: The Best Coaching Staff In The Country

Here it is.  As promised, the first week of August has come to a close and so is the Summer Study Series.  Over the course of the past two weeks, we've broken down Pitt's 2011 football team, position by position, looking at the High-Octane offense, the Nitro defense, and the yet-to-be-named special teams .  With less than one month till kickoff (!) it's time to wrap up by looking at the new Pitt coaching staff -- the group on which everything else (including the athletic department's vigorous high-octane marketing campaign) is dependent.  With plenty of detailed bios and cool videos available online about the coaches, I'm not going to give you an encyclopedic history on each one.  Rather, I'll offer a brief bio on a select few and some commentary about what to expect from them. 

To the drawing board.

Todd Graham - Head Coach

The man on which the program is being positioned, Todd Graham, comes to Pitt after a four-year stint as the head coach at Tulsa from 2007-2010.  During that span, he compiled a 36-17 overall mark, three 10-win seasons, and three bowl game victories.  He spent a year as the head coach at Rice in 2006 and led the Owls to their first bowl game in 45 years.  His career also includes a stop at West Virginia (2001-2002) and tour of duty through the Texas high school ranks (1995-2000).  I like Graham a lot.  Sure, I'm questioning the efficacy of his fantasy-football offense just as much as the next guy, but I love everything he has to say.  He's not afraid of expectations and he boldly talks a big game.  Very different from a certain previous head coach.  His cowboy swagger and loquacious nature could come across as annoying to some, but I view those as positives (see: Voytik,Chad; Price,Juan; Ricketts,Tom).  I can't wait until September 3 to finally see him in action. 

Calvin Magee - Co-Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach/RB Coach

What a title, isn't it?  While the job titles amongst the coaching staff seem a bit convoluted, it's abundantly clear that the offense will be run largely by big man Calvin Magee.  He comes to Pitt after crafting some of the most explosive offenses in the country during stints at Michigan (2007-2010) and West Virginia (2001-2007).  I like Magee and think the offense is in good hands under him and his partner Mike Norvell (also wide receivers coach).  He has a proven track record at two big-time programs which is good enough for me.  Yeah, he worked for Rich Rodriguez, but allegiances change quickly in this game.  He's rightly moved from blue and yellow to blue and gold. 

Todd Dodge - Quarterbacks Coach

Dodge comes to Pitt most immediately from North Texas, where he was the head coach from 2007-2010.  Prior, he was a celebrated head coach at Texas' Southlake Carroll High School from 2000-2006 where he went 98-11 and won four state championships.  His teams were named national champions in 2004, 2005, and 2006.  Dodge played at the University of Texas and wore the number 13 as a tribute to Dan Marino.  I can't say enough good things about this hire.  Dodge is smart, likable, proven, and quarterback-savvy.  And he has an affinity for one of Pitt's own.  Tino Sunseri and the other quarterbacks are under excellent tutelage with Dodge at the helm. 

Keith Patterson - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach

Patterson was Graham's college roommate and served as his defensive coordinator at Tulsa.  He originally joined the Tulsa staff in 2003 after coaching at Oklahoma and Texas high schools.  I'm not overly impressed by Patterson -- I think he's more a good friend of Graham's than a good coach -- but that's not to say he won't be competent at his job.  With so much talent on the defensive side of the ball, Pitt doesn't need a defensive mastermind calling the shots.  That being said, I don't think Patterson is a defensive mastermind.  

Tony Gibson - Pass Defense Coordinator/Secondary

Gibson, like Magee, comes to Pitt by way of Michigan and West Virginia, where he worked with special teams, defensive backs, and recruiting.  He doesn't appear to be too highly-regarded as a secondary coach and I've heard more bad than good about him in this area.  On the positive side, Gibson is very familiar with Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, as he recruited this area heavily during his years at Michigan and WVU.  Like Patterson, I think Gibson is probably an okay coach, but I'm not wildly impressed by him.  Our friends in Morgantown seem to hate his guts, because of his perceived betrayal.  Whatever.  Interesting storyline.

Chris LaSala, recently reassigned (demoted) to Assistant AD and Bob Junko, Director of Football Relations and Program Enhancement, return as the only holdovers from the Wannstedt era.