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Cardiac Spill: The Definitive Guide to Potential Pitt Football Coaching Candidates

We break down every single possible coaching hire, from Lane Kiffin to a Basket of Kittens.

There's a lot of names being thrown around out there on the internets for candidates for the Pitt football head coaching job. ut you can trust us here at Cardiac Spill to help you separate the wheat from the chaff. The three of us pooled together a lot of the popular names and threw in a few guesses as to who could be surprise candidates. Because we're bloggers, that gives those folks automatic credibility.


Tom Bradley

It’s a coaching search, which means that, inevitably, the media will pull out Tom Bradley’s name, dust it off, and proceed to bloviate about him for a few weeks before exactly nothing will happen. This man must have the best PR team (or media connections, likely) than any other coach in PA. Do you think we want aaaaanything to do with that awful scandal at Penn State? Yes, the thought is that it would help local recruiting, but really, if any coach comes in and actually wins, recruiting locally won’t be a problem. Besides, local recruiting alone isn’t going to fix Pitt. It might give us the warm fuzzies that we feel like a football factory region again, but spoiler: we aren’t Florida/Texas/California anymore. Pass on Tom Bradley and put a moratorium on his name coming up in 3 more years.

Dave Wannstedt (Version 2.0)

You can’t bring back Wannstedt because I’m too attached to laughing at him make fun of Steve Pederson on Fox’s studio show. Don’t strip me of that joy. The revisionist history happening around this name is astounding. This was a dude who would repeatedly lose to UConn and Cincinnati in the most frustrating ways possible back when the Big East was a giant pillowfest with a big, shiny BCS bowl bid no one in conference deserved. Yes, he’s A PITT GUY. That’s a big draw, but leave Wanny at home. Campus can’t handle another influx of press-on fake mustaches.

Gustavus Adolphus

It’s chic to find the one guy no one knows about, right? Let’s look at the facts: Gustavus Adolphus took a once negligible and irrelevant set of people dressed in blue and gold, and turned them into a fearsome threat to an entire continent. What more could you ask for? On the downside, he’s a seventeenth century Swedish king, and has long since died and decayed into a pile of centuries-old bones. That may hurt recruiting somewhat.

8-Bit Goomba from Super Mario Brothers

Now we’re getting somewhere. Consider the following: who’s the first guy you see in Mario? Goomba. He’s first to the practice facility and first on the field. That takes dedication to your craft. He usually appears in pairs or triples, meaning he works well with others and can hold together a staff. He’s deadly, too. A single touch can kill a man (or weirdly drain like 4 feet from him). That’s the kind of threat you need to keep a fractured, downtrodden team IN LINE.

Sure, I mean, sometimes he walks off of cliffs to certain doom but I mean, that’s still less frustrating than losing to Akron.


Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin has done a heck of a job this year with the Alabama offense - but who wouldn't be able to put a quality attack together with talent like Saban recruits? Nevermind that Alabama Coordinator might be a step up from Pitt Head Coach, this is a poor fit. Not only that, but Pitt is probably a few coaches away from hiring one that's as much of a flight risk as Kiffin is thought to be. Whoever's doing the hiring: just say "No way, José!" to Lane Kiffin.

Rich Kotite

You might think that the 72-year-old former Eagles and Jets coach could provide crucial life experience AND football experience for a young team like Pitt, and has local ties as a former Pittsburgh Steeler. But think again: after going 1-15 in his last season with the Jets, who wants to see this guy again? Despite conventional wisdom, I don't think Kotite's eighteen year absence from coaching has left him rested, I think it's left him rusty. And despite the local ties, he's really more of a Brooklyn guy - who's to say he won't get poached by Wagner? Just say "No way, José!" to Rich Kotite.

Dwayne Johnson

The former Miami Hurricane has already proven his ability to change career paths gracefully, having smoothly transitioned from professional wrestling to acting. Is it time for Coach The Rock? I don't think so! Not only is he just as big a flight risk as the Kiffin with his Miami (and California, or whatever) ties, he is also too much of a pretty boy for the hard-nosed Pitt football image. Just say "No way, José!" to The Rock.

Brett Haverwhite

Haverwhite has served admirably as the defensive coordinator for the surprisingly-good Oregon State Beavers defense, and has previously served as an assistant at West Virginia. He has already interviewed with Michigan and is considered an "outside contender" for the job - if he's good enough for Michigan, he's good enough for us, right? Wrong! Not only is the Beavers' defense actually not especially good, Haverton is a made-up person I slipped in here to make it seem like I had an original suggestion. Only Boston College, a fictional program, has ever even tried hiring a fictional coach, and I don't think anyone wants our ceiling to be Boston College. Just say "No way, José!" to Brett "Fake Name" Haverwhite.

José Reyes

Current Toronto Blue Jays shortstop José Reyes has been on a serious decline since his heyday with the New York Mets. Maybe it's time he hangs up his cleats for different cleats - coaching cleats? Don't count on it! Here's a fact for you: since the start of the BCS era, precisely ZERO vacant Division I head coaching positions have been filled by active major league baseball players. Not only that, but Reyes, who is Dominican, likely lacks the necessary know-how to be a head football coach in the NCAA. Just say "No way, José!" to José Reyes.


Mario Cristobal

The former Florida International head coach interviewed for the Pitt job last time around, and appeared to be among the favorites for the position before losing out to Chryst.  He was also tied to the openings at Penn State and Rutgers before receiving an extension at FIU through 2017.  Five months later he was fired. That may seem like the most Pitt thing that could possibly happen to a coach, and it’d be difficult to argue with that.  Since then he’s been an assistant at Miami and is currently on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama.  That may seem like the kind of experience Pitt is looking for, but instead of hiring Saban’s assistant, why not just hire Saban?  That’s what a program that "gets it" would do.  Anyway, pass on Cristobal.

Todd Haley

Head coaching experience?  Check.

Pittsburgh ties?  Check.

Wouldn’t get lost on his way to the practice facility?  Pal, he already works there!

Look, I know what you’re thinking – this guy is a complete knob.  I’ll grant you that.  But his offenses are sporadically explosive and put points on the scoreboard roughly half the time.  Put a pin in this one.  We might have something here.

Jamie Dixon

What Coach Dixon lacks in football coaching experience, he makes up for in "He Hasn’t Left Yet"-ishness.  He’s already won tougher conferences than the football side of the ACC, and his teams have a history of filling their building.  I have a hunch this guy would get along very well with the higher-ups in the athletic department, plus, if he’s pulling double-duty he won’t have time to interview for jobs anywhere else.  On the other hand, if this football program is going to get us that tenth National Championship (wink wink), we’re going to need a top four finish and… *sigh*… let’s just move on.

A Basket of Kittens

Admittedly an outside-the-box candidate, but a Basket of Kittens solves a lot of the problems that have been plaguing the program for a number of years:

Recruiting – Carry a Basket of Kittens through a mall and see what happens.  People come to you!  If you take a Basket of Kittens to a recruit’s high school, that kid will pay attention.  Do it when his girlfriend is around.  This will work.

Branding – A Basket of Kittens doesn’t care if you’re wearing Script or the block logo.  A Basket of Kittens would have a single focus: playing on the field.  That’s the kind of motivation this program needs.  This will work.

Attendance – Search "kittens" on YouTube and look at what you comes back.  Some of those clips have MILLIONS of hits.  People want to watch kittens.  If Pitt puts a Basket of Kittens on the sideline at Heinz Field they’d be turning people away.  You could give them tiny headsets!  I’m telling you, this will work.

Conference Championships – We haven’t been winning them *without* the Basket of Kittens, have we?