Calling all coordinators
College Football Videos
One candidate to become Pitt's offensive coordinator played at the University of the Pacific and was a head coach at a BCS program.
And then there's Walt Harris.
Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt has no shortage of qualified candidates at his choosing to replace offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, who is expected to be named quarterbacks coach of the N.Y. Jets.
One name that has surfaced is Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner, who preceded Cavanaugh as Wannstedt's offensive coordinator with the Bears from 1993-96. Turner, like Harris, played at Pacific and was head coach at Illinois from 1997-2004 before returning to the Bears in '05.
Turner is the brother of San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner, who coached alongside Wannstedt with the Dallas Cowboys. Turner is also the uncle of Pitt graduate assistant Scott Turner, who is Norv's son.
Harris, improbable as it sounds, could be a candidate to return as an assistant for the man who replaced him. Harris served as Pitt's head coach from 1997-2004, and led the Panthers to a 52-44 record and six bowl games in eight seasons before leaving to become head coach at Stanford.
Harris, a highly regarded offensive mind, has been living in the Pittsburgh area since being fired after two seasons at Stanford. When reached this week, Harris would neither confirm nor deny an interest in returning to Pitt.
"You'd have to ask Dave," Harris said of Wannstedt. "It's not really my place to talk about anything. Dave's the head coach. That's his call."
|Although Pitt's offense produced better single-season numbers in three categories in Walt Harris' final four seasons than it did during Matt Cavanaugh's four-year tenure, their overall statistics are startlingly similar:|
|2008||139.1 (65th)||203.4 (68th)||342.5 (77th)||27.1 (50th)|
|2007||141.4 (71st)||178.1 (104th)||319.5 (108th)||22.8 (91st)|
|2006||123.0 (78th)||249.3 (20th)||372.3 (37th)||31.8 (14th)|
|2005||116.8 (93rd)||219.0 (67th)||335.8 (85th)||24.3 (73rd)|
|2004||97.8 (105th)||260.1 (24th)||357.8 (72nd)||27.1 (48th)|
|2003||117.5 (95th)||288.2 (14th)||405.7 (34th)||29.9 (35th)|
|2002||143.1 (64th)||215.1 (59th)||358.2 (78th)||25.5 (70th)|
|2001||123.4 (84th)||221.3 (56th)||344.6 (82nd)||23.8 (79th)|
Wannstedt said Wednesday that Pitt would continue to run a pro-style offense, and Harris spent three seasons as quarterback coach of the Jets. He ran a vertical version of the West Coast offense with resounding success that produced Biletnikoff Award winners Antonio Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald.
While Harris is available and affordable, Pitt's chances of landing its choice of offensive coordinator candidates could come down to the price tag.
Other potential candidates include:
• Chan Gailey: The former Steelers assistant and Dallas Cowboys head coach was Wannstedt's offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins from 2000-01 before coaching at Georgia Tech from '02-07. He spent this past season as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs but is available now that they fired Herm Edwards and hired Todd Haley.
• Alex Van Pelt: The former Pitt star, who still holds several school passing records, is the quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills. Van Pelt, a disciple of former Pitt coach Paul Hackett, is well versed in the West Coast scheme, but he has little experience coaching in college or calling plays.
• Noel Mazzone: A former offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, Auburn, Oregon State and North Carolina State, he has experience calling plays and working with quarterbacks. He has spent the past three seasons working with the Jets' receivers. Mazzone has no Pitt ties, but neither did defensive coordinator Phil Bennett before Wannstedt hired him.
• Charlie Taaffe: A former head coach at The Citadel and of the Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, Taaffe was Maryland's offensive coordinator from 2001-05. He spent the '06 season as an offensive assistant at Pitt and has a good relationship with Wannstedt. Taaffe, however, was hired last month as Central Florida's offensive coordinator.
• Brian Angelichio: The Pitt tight ends coach is the top in-house candidate and would provide a seamless transition, as he worked closely with Cavanaugh the past three seasons. Angelichio has play-calling experience, spending six seasons as offensive coordinator at Ithaca College, but none working specifically with quarterbacks.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.