Utah State University Athletic Director Scott Barnes and Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle are both rumored to be among the top four or five targets for the opening as Athletic Director at the University of Pittsburgh, according to KDKA's Rich Walsh's tweet earlier this week. The two others currently in the rumor mill are Vince Nicastro of Villanova and Sean Frazier of Northern Illinois.
With the exception of the Nova target, they certainly seem to have a type: all three schools have done very well the past few years as mid-major football programs, with Boise State certainly carrying the banner among the three. Boise State and Utah State have also both had varying degrees of success in basketball throughout the years. Villanova obviously has the best hard court resume of the schools, though, so it will be interesting to see who the first choice is for Pittsburgh, as it will be telling of the school's athletic priorities.
The two best choices from Pitt's perspective, in this MWCConnection blogger's humble, unbiased opinion, would be the USU and BSU ADs: they have had success in both of the major collegiate sports, know how to develop the less lucrative sports while focusing on the money-getters, and are both making impressive strides in developing the schools themselves, with new facilities, fundraising, etc.
Hopefully though, in this MWCConnection blogger's humble, homer opinion, neither of these men would want to leave the school they are currently at for what many would consider a step sideways. In football, both USU and BSU are a step ahead of Pittsburgh. USU has been ranked or receiving votes each of the past three years, and appears to be situated to continue their recent success. Boise State has consistently been ranked or receiving votes for the past decade.
Pittsburgh has enjoyed some limited success in football over the past decade. They were ranked back in 2009, and received votes in 2008. Between that '08 season and now, they've gone 52-39 and gone to seven straight bowl games, winning three of them. They've somewhat been on the decline over the last four years though, only winning 25 of their last 52 games, and losing three of their last four bowl games.
Where Pittsburgh really is a step up over these other schools is in basketball. Pitt has competed in post-season play every year this millenium (2000 was as far back as I cared to look), going as far as the Elite 8 in March Madness. Neither USU nor BSU can offer that kind of competitive atmosphere, and that may be attractive to Barnes in particular; Scott Barnes was named the chairman of the NCAA basketball selection committee in 2013.
For now, we'll simply have to wait and see what happens. Pitt is expected to try to bring each of these men in for interviews over the coming weeks. Until then, we'll hope for the best.