Jamie Dixon officially left Pitt for TCU and on his way out, did what he could for a former assistant. According to KDKA's Bob Pompeani, Dixon reportedly endorsed his assistant Brandin Knight for the job.
Jamie Dixon told me on our early news. He has endorsed Brandin Knight as his replacement #Pitt— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) March 21, 2016
That's obviously a move reminiscent of what former Pitt coach Ben Howland did for Dixon on his way out the door. Dixon ended up landing the job after overwhelming support from Howland and players. However, I'm not so certain that move works this time around.
Pitt was still a program very much on the rise after Howland left. And while it was an important job, it is a much more attractive one now. The Panthers have won more and playing in the prestigious ACC, the unquestioned top conference in college basketball.
When hired as the head coach, Dixon also had more experience than Knight does. Dixon had approximately 15 years of coaching experience as an assistant while Knight has about half of that. There's also the sense that athletics director Scott Barnes needs to make a big splash with his first basketball hire and while Knight would be a sentimental choice for some, bigger names are out there.
None of that even takes into account the Panthers' financial position. Pitt is much better off financially with the ACC money and the Dixon buyout money than they were in the past. The program surely doesn't want to go on a wasteful spending spree and just shed money for the sake of doing so. But I also would be surprised if they went for a hire on the cheap here.
I like Knight. I've always said that he is arguably the most important player in the Howland-Dixon era because he was the catalyst for everything and got the program going. Knight could very well wind up being an excellent head coach, but I would be surprised if this was his time. Starting out in such a high profile job when Pitt could seemingly attract a more established candidate doesn't seem like it's going to happen.
Also, take Barnes' words at his press conference. Surely by then he knew that Dixon wanted Knight to get the job (assuming the Pompeani report is correct). Barnes specifically made a point to say that he is likely looking for a current D-I head coach, anyway.
Dixon may want Knight to have the job but it just doesn't seem all that likely at this point.