Patience is a Virtue, Pittsburgh
By Paul Myerberg // Jan 4, 2011
Patience is a virtue, just not here. Not in Steve Pederson’s office, site — both at Nebraska and Pittsburgh — of two of the most unceremonious firings and most disastrous hirings in recent college football history. At Nebraska, Pederson fired Frank Solich at the tail end of a 9-3 season and replaced him with Bill Callahan; it took four years, but that blunder eventually flashed its true colors. Since December at Pittsburgh, Pederson sent Dave Wannstedt packing in favor of Mike Haywood, whose legendary tenure lasted all of 16 days. It’s safe to say that mistakes have been made, errors in judgement of the kind that once cost Pederson his job and may someday do so again.
About that patience, or lack thereof: it’s time to flash some, Mr. Pederson. In perhaps a matter of days, the perfect candidate will reveal himself. His name is Rich Rodriguez; he’s currently the coach at Michigan, but don’t expect him to hold onto that title for much longer.
Rodriguez and Pittsburgh: if not a match made in heaven, Pederson and Pittsburgh should view his availability as a godsend — the type of home run, no-nonsense, so-easy-it-solves-itself answer to the program’s current dilemma.
More than anything, Pittsburgh needs a P.R. boost. The developments surrounding Haywood, which was nothing if not an utter embarrassment, left Pittsburgh back at square one — if not a step behind square one, if that’s possible. If Pederson had known that Haywood would allegedly assault the mother of his child, bringing disgrace to himself and his new employer, perhaps he would have thought twice about firing Wannstedt one year after a 10-win finish.
The day for apologies are long past: even if Pederson came to his former coach with hat in hand, presenting alms and begging forgiveness, Wannstedt’s stubbornness — all deserved, based on how he was dumped — would preclude any attempts at reconciliation.
What Pederson needs is a big name and a proven coach, albeit one with just enough tarnish to make him a viable candidate. Can you think of a better description of Rodriguez? He remains a rose, just one without its 2007 bloom, thanks to three disappointing seasons with the Wolverines.
He’s just sullied enough to be perfect for Pittsburgh. Let’s be serious: Rodriguez wouldn’t have considered the Panthers in 2007, when he was the hottest coaching name in his profession. Now, however, he’s damaged goods.
Damaged goods, yes. Regardless, I still believe Rodriguez to be one of the top coaches in the country — if in the right situation. At a place like Pittsburgh, for instance, where he would find a program malleable enough to bend to the philosophies that crashed and burned in Ann Arbor.
The spread offense? Yeah, it works now — not in the Gator Bowl, however — but the first two years provided the Michigan faithful with a weekly reminder of the beauty behind three yards and a cloud of dust. The defense? The 3-3-5 look, which worked at West Virginia, was simply a weekly humiliation.
The leash would be longer at Pittsburgh. Rodriguez has shown himself capable of winning in the Big East, leading the Mountaineers to a pair of B.C.S. berths. So West Virginia wouldn’t be too pleased with Rodriguez if he headed to its Backyard Brawl rival — as if the fan base needed another reason to dislike their former coach. That hatred would be tinged by apprehension, if not fear, when considering what Rodriguez could accomplish if given the opportunity.
More than anything, the marriage between Pederson, Pittsburgh and Rodriguez would be beneficial to all parties. Pederson would salvage some of the credibility already stretched to the breaking point. Pittsburgh would land a top-flight coach, his results at Michigan be damned. And Rodriguez would land the opportunity to rebuild his own reputation, one whose acme — achieved at West Virginia — reached its nadir with the Wolverines.
It’s almost too perfect, in fact. And that’s probably why it won’t come to pass. After all, this is Steve Pederson we’re talking about: it’s nearly guaranteed that things won’t work out in the end.
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