Pitt athletics director Scott Barnes held a press conference in the aftermath of the Jamie Dixon departure to TCU. Often, these don't reveal much information, but Barnes actually shared quite a bit in Monday's presser and was pretty candid.
He hit on several topics, so let's take a look at them.
They wanted Dixon
Barnes made it clear that Pitt was prepared to forge ahead with Dixon - even for the long haul. This was not a force out situation and it's apparent that Dixon just felt it was time to move on. How badly did they try to keep him? I don't know if that will ever be answered, but Barnes said specifically that they were ready to move ahead with him.
Pitt relaxed the buyout
This may come as news to some folks, but Pitt did not get the full buyout. Pitt had a significant buyout on Dixon, reported to be as high as around $10 million. Barnes said at the presser that he doesn't know of one that was higher. They could have forced TCU's hand here, but as Barnes said, you don't want a guy here that is unhappy. It is sort of foolish to hold a coach hostage when he doesn't really want to be here.
The troubling part of this is that buyouts are one of the few pieces of leverage schools have in keeping coaches that are signed to long-term deals. If we're negotiating buyouts now, then just what exactly is in place to ensure coaches stay? Well, nothing, really. According to Barnes, Pitt seemed to do okay financially with the buyout, but think again if you are of the belief that buyouts ensure coaches stick around. Schools can certainly make it that way but keeping unhappy employees, especially head coaches, is just bad for business, boys and girls.
To the buyout money that Pitt did get, however, it will come in handy. Barnes didn't specifically address this, but keep in mind that Pitt may need to pay a buyout of their own to get the coach they want. Getting a large chunk of money for Dixon should come in handy in their own search.
He has a list - Of course he has a list
Barnes was asked if he had a short list of names in mind for Dixon. His response? Any athletic director worth his salt always has a list. He wouldn't elaborate on specific names, of course, but if you were wondering if Barnes was prepared, he certainly is.
The search process has begun
Pitt is already looking for a new coach, folks. He said earlier that he and Dixon had been discussing some things for several weeks now so in light of that, it wasn't unexpected that Barnes said a search firm had already been enlisted and basically was 'at the ready'. Again, Pitt has had some time to prepare here.
Who will they target?
Unknown, of course. But here's what Barnes said. The job is attractive because it's in the ACC, they have great facilities, have had success, and have a great fanbase. Few would argue with any of that and while I question just how big a guy they could land, it is by any account, a pretty good job for those reasons.
Specifically, Barnes said that his preference was for a sitting D-I head coach, a dynamic personality (or something to that effect), and a great recruiter. The 'sitting D-I head coach' thing could rule out a possibility like current assistant Brandin Knight, who might be a popular choice among some fans.
That last part about recruiting should be news to some fans' ears since that wasn't one of Dixon's strong suits by most accounts. He also addressed the question that would come up in terms of if local ties mattered (and as a heads up, Aron talked about some local possibilities earlier today). In short, they may be nice, but certainly not mandatory. He stressed a couple of times that this would be a national search.