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Sal Sunseri to Pitt a Possibility While Other Candidates Emerge

The name of Sal Sunseri has been mentioned a few times with regard to the now open position at Pitt, but at least some of the early speculation seems to be leaning towards other candidates. A sampling of potential candidates, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Pitt is in trouble. It needs to act fast. But don't hurry.

Names you will be hearing in the coming days as a possible successor to Graham:

Paul Rhoads: He's the head coach at Iowa State when he has gone 18-19 in three seasons. He is 9-16 in the Big 12. His biggest win was this year, a 37-31 win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 18 that kept the Cowboys out of the national championship game. Last year, Iowa State beat No. 19 Texas...

For what it's worth, a more exhaustive listing by another Pitt writer does not mention Sunseri either. Of course, none of that is to say that Sunseri could not become a candidate at some point, and given his past and present Pitt ties, combined with his interview for the position last year, it would not surprise anyone if he legitimately became a serious candidate in the near future. Nevertheless, it is somewhat relieving to not have Sunseri mentioned so heavily from several of those closest to the situation.

Now, if Alabama were to lose Sunseri, clearly that would add yet another distraction going into January 9th, but in terms of coaching logistics his dual-role (assuming he stayed with Alabama for the BCS National Championship Game, which is by no means guaranteed) would not be as big of a concern as 'Bama currently has regarding Jim McElwain. As inside linebackers coach he does not have as much input into gameplan preparation as someone like McElwain does, and obviously he does not call plays defensively on gameday. Both are mitigating factors that would make it easier to weather this storm.

Nevertheless, Sunseri has been an outstanding assistant during his time in Tuscaloosa, and regardless of how you may be able to minimize the short-term setbacks associated with his departure, losing a coach of his caliber is a legitimate long-term concern. He could be replaced, of course, but losing quality assistants is always difficult. Also, recruiting would be a legitimate concern with respect to the 2012 recruiting class. Success in the recruiting process is so heavily predicated on personal relationships formed with individual coaching staff members, and losing Sunseri a mere seven weeks before National Signing Day would make it difficult land late-deciding prospects like Eddie Goldman or Cyrus Jones.

We'll keep a close eye on this one moving forward, and clearly we wish Sunseri the best in his career endeavors, but hopefully we can steer clear of this potential storm and keep him in Tuscaloosa.