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Pitt players support Rudolph for job

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, 10:42 p.m.
Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph during a game against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph during a game against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Heinz Field.

Seated in chancellor Patrick Gallagher's first-floor office inside the Cathedral of Learning, Pitt players Chad Voytik and Artie Rowell started their closing arguments.

Accompanied by teammates James Conner, Adam Bisnowaty and J.P. Holtz, they spoke Thursday endorsing Pitt interim coach Joe Rudolph's possible candidacy to replace Paul Chryst, who left last week for Wisconsin. As they were relaying to Gallagher the mood of a team dealing with the departure of yet another coach, the fire alarm went off throughout the building.

Fitting? Perhaps, but such is the urgent nature of the search to find Pitt's next coach.

“We knew we needed to ask fast,” said Voytik, the starting quarterback who, with Rowell, helped organize the meeting. “We knew coach (Rudolph) would be offered the (offensive coordinator) job at Wisconsin.”

Many players want to see Rudolph, a close friend and confidante of Chryst's, get the Pitt job.

“If he stayed,” Conner said, “it would be like nobody ever left.”

Rudolph expressed to Gallagher his desire to become Pitt's coach when the chancellor called to ask him to become the interim.

“You have a vision of what you want to do in the end, and that's to be a head coach,” Rudolph said. “I believe I'll do wonderful at it. Now, will it be days from now or months from now or years from now? I don't know.”Whether he is one of the top candidates for the job is unclear.

“In speaking with the chancellor, he mentioned he wants to get together and talk,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph would become one of several candidates, some of whom already have met with the search committee. Chairman Jerry Cochran said he hopes to identify “five, six or seven” to meet with initially.

“If we really latch onto somebody we really would like to have and he would like to be here and it looks like it will work, that might be the size of the search and we're done,” Cochran said. “If there is nobody who hits a home run, nobody we think would be a good fit or nobody that appears he wants to be here, then we expand, and we start adding to the number of people we are talking to.”He said there is no timetable.

“We want to have a head coach as fast as we can possibly arrange that while not compromising the quality of the search,” Cochran said. “Could it be done by Christmas? I guess that's possible. Could it take to New Year's? I guess that's possible, too.”

Cochran said Gallagher will be part of the search “from the start so we can get this done quickly.”

Gallagher's role is important because Pitt will take the unusual step of hiring a coach before finding an athletic director.

“It sends a message to a potential head coach what our chancellor's position is on a number of matters so they are in tune with each other,” Cochran said.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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