Todd Graham’s abrupt departure forced Pitt to find a new head coach for the third time in 12 months. If reports are to be believed, the third time might be the charm. Pitt reportedly interviewed three candidates for the position. Most of the buzz surrounds FIU coach Mario Cristobal, who could be available after tomorrow’s Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.
Mario Cristobal could be a perfect fit. Bruce Feldman describes him as a “high-energy, no-BS guy.” The latter quality would offer a refreshing shower after a year with his itinerant predecessor.
Cristobal can build a program. He’s done it as an assistant, laying the Rutgers foundations with Greg Schiano. He’s done it as a head coach at FIU. He inherited a dumpster fire. The Golden Panthers had perhaps the worst facilities in FBS. They were entering academic probation. They were coming off a winless season. Laying the foundation himself, he won the Sun Belt within four years and has brought the team to consecutive bowl games.
He’s also a great recruiter, both landing recruits FIU should have had no chance with and finding hidden gems such as T.Y. Hilton. Cristobal has experience in the two areas Pitt can hit hard, the Northeast and Florida.
Pitt underachieves routinely. The right coach, in a vacuum, can recruit NFL-level talent and compete for a BCS bid every season. There’s opportunity with Penn State and Maryland seemingly in for a rough few years. Mario Cristobal could be the right man to capitalize on it.
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