Posted by Chip Patterson
Pittsburgh's search to replace Todd Graham as the head football coach has slowed since the weekend's interviews, possibly because school officials are waiting for a response from the reported frontrunner: Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal.
Paul Zeise, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reports that Cristobal emerged from the weekend as the leading candidate to become the next Panthers football coach, but asked the school to hold off any further discussions until after FIU's bowl game. Cristobal's Golden Panthers squad will make its second-straight postseason appearance against Marshall in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl on Tuesday night.
Cristobal interviewed with the school last week, but the Panthers have back-up plans if the Miami native chooses to stay put with the Golden Panthers. Ohio State defensive coordinator -- and interim coach for 2011 -- Luke Fickell as well as Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst are the other known candidates for the vacant position. The report in the Gazette cited a source close to one of those candidates that suggested Pitt was "waiting for something" before moving forward. It is believed the school will wait for the completion of Tuesday's bowl game before gauging the interest of Cristobal.
No formal offers have been made by the school to any candidates, but all three would fit the mold Pittsburgh is looking for in their next coach. Of course, the Panthers thought Todd Graham fit that mold as well, but the most high-octane aspect from Graham's time in Pittsburgh was the speed of his exit. The school is looking for a coach to re-energize the storied program that has only claimed a share of two conference titles since 1980.
Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will serve as the interim head coach when the Panthers face SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7 in Birmingham.
Get set for Mario Cristobal and FIU's showdown in Tuesday's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl against Marshall at the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Pregame
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