Panthers still seek a boss for defense

PITT FOOTBALL


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While Paul Chryst prepares to sign his first full recruiting class as Pitt's head coach next week, he has yet to fill an important opening on his staff.

Pitt has not filled its defensive coordinator position, a month and a half after Dave Huxtable resigned to take the same position at North Carolina State. Huxtable resigned Dec. 14, 2012, and Chryst has spent the past month interviewing candidates.

There appears to be no rush to name Huxtable's replacement. Pitt coaches are spending this week on the road, making their final sales pitches to committed and uncommitted high school prospects before national signing day Feb. 6.

On top of that, the staff will play host to its annual junior day this weekend to get a look at the top prospects for the 2014 recruiting class.

There's a chance Pitt could wait until after signing day to name Huxtable's replacement. The Panthers hired defensive coordinator Phil Bennett on Feb. 4, 2008, and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Jr. on Feb. 19, 2009.

In both cases, the coaches each replaced departed much later than Huxtable. Paul Rhoads left for Auburn on Jan. 18, 2008, and Matt Cavanaugh took a job with the New York Jets in early February 2009.

Pitt secondary coach Matt House was the de facto defensive coordinator for the BBVA Compass Bowl, but the new coordinator likely will be hired from outside the program.

If Chryst decides to look to the NFL ranks, he might have to wait until after the Super Bowl Sunday to name a coach from the Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers.

San Francisco defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is a former Steel Valley High School player and Baltimore secondary coach Teryl Austin is a Pitt alumnus. San Francisco assistant secondary coach Greg Jackson was the assistant linebackers coach at Wisconsin in 2010, when Chryst was on the Badgers' staff.

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published January 30, 2013 5:00 AM


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