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Pitt hires new strength coach

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011

Pitt football coach Todd Graham is close to finalizing his staff, but popular strength coach Buddy Morris won't be a part of it.

Among the four men hired Tuesday was strength and conditioning coach Shawn Griswold, who spent the past seven seasons in the same position at Tulsa, four under Graham.

"He is the best strength and conditioning coach I've ever been around," Graham said.

Griswold's appointment means the end of Morris' third stint at Pitt. Morris led Pitt's conditioning program for 19 years and served five head coaches since 1980. He also worked for the Cleveland Browns from 2002-2005 and the University of Buffalo in '06 before former Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt brought him back in '07.

Morris, a Pitt graduate, helped train some of the best players in Pitt history, including Jimbo Covert, Bill Fralic, Dan Marino and Russ Grimm.

Morris, whose assistant, James Smith, also won't return, said he had turned down job offers from Iowa State (2008) and the Washington Redskins (last year) to remain at Pitt.

"I had a 45-minute conversation with (Todd Graham). I understand," said Morris, a South Park graduate. "He wants to bring his own guy in. I wish him and the University of Pittsburgh nothing but the best."

Meanwhile, Graham hired three more assistant coaches, leaving one opening to be filled -- likely for a defensive aide in charge of safeties.

The most significant addition is Todd Dodge, named the first quarterbacks coach since 1992 to hold only that title at Pitt. Previously, head coach Walt Harris and offensive coordinators Matt Cavanaugh and Frank Cignetti served as quarterbacks coach.

Dodge brings an interesting resume to Pitt, leading Southlake Carroll High School to four Texas Class 5A state titles and a 79-1 record in his final five seasons. He's credited with popularizing the spread offense among high schools in Texas.

Dodge, who coached Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy in high school, was the North Texas State head coach from 2007 until he was fired Oct. 20, 2010, with a 6-37 record.

Also named yesterday were tight ends coach Tony Dews, who spent the past three seasons as the wide receivers coach at Michigan, and offensive line coach Spencer Leftwich, a 20-year coaching veteran who was with Graham last season at Tulsa.

None of Wannstedt's assistant coaches were retained, but three members of the administrative support staff will be back. They include director of football relations and program enhancement Bob Junko, assistant athletic director/football relations Chris LaSala and his assistant, Matt Dudek. Graduate assistants Luke Getsy and Eric Thatcher were asked to return.

Graham introduced five assistants last week at his initial news conference -- executive associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Paul Randolph; assistant head coach, co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Calvin Magee; co-offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and director of recruiting Mike Norvell; defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Keith Patterson; and cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson.

Randolph, Norvell and Patterson served with Graham at Tulsa.

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