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Pelini not surprised he was passed over by Pitt

| Monday, Jan. 3, 2005

MIAMI -- Bo Pelini is not surprised that he was not hired to replace former Pitt coach Walt Harris.

The Oklahoma defensive coordinator was among the first candidates contacted last month by Pitt athletic director Jeff Long after Harris was cut loose.

However, Pelini, a Youngstown, Ohio, native, did not make the cut beyond an opening round of talks with Long. The job eventually went to Dave Wannstedt.

Pelini, like Wannstedt, has ample NFL experience and is a defensive-minded coach. However, Wannstedt has the added edge of being a Pitt alumnus.

"You know, you kind of read the writing on the wall," Pelini said Sunday during Orange Bowl media day. "When you look and see that there's a bunch of Pitt guys being considered and one non-Pitt guy, you think, 'Uh, is that a plus or a minus for me?'

"But they hired a good football coach. He'll do a good job for them."

Pelini, 37, now is being mentioned as a possible successor to Paul Pasqualoni, who was fired last week by Syracuse.

But, Pelini said he has not yet been contacted by Syracuse. He is trying to focus on preparing for Tuesday night's Orange Bowl game against top-ranked Southern California.

"I've heard a lot of speculation, and it's very flattering," he said. "I really don't think about the next job very much, especially in a situation where we're getting ready to play for the national championship."

Pelini laughed when someone asked if USC coach Pete Carroll was behind the Syracuse rumors. The two coaches have been friends since Pelini worked as the New England Patriots' linebackers coach under Carroll from 1997-99.

"Yeah, Pete probably wants me to get distracted this week," Pelini said.

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