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NIU Opening Could Impact Pitt OC Search



When Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey was announced as the new head coach at Temple over the weekend, Pitt’s ongoing offensive coordinator search may have hit a snag.

At least two of the candidates to be Pat Narduzzi’s top offensive assistant are also looking to lead the Huskies, one of the top programs in the MAC this decade.

Former Maryland offensive coordinator and interim head coach Matt Canada and Wisconsin assistant head coach offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph have both been linked to both the Pitt job and the NIU job. 

Sources have told Pittsburgh Sports Now that Canada wants to be a head coach again, and the NIU job opening was specifically mentioned as a potential stumbling block to him returning to the Panthers as offensive coordinator this offseason.

Rudolph, whose involvement in the Pitt opening was first reported by, is also a candidate at Northern Illinois, and apparently one that’s in the mix, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.

Rittenberg also mentioned Baltimore Ravens running backs coach Thomas Hammock and SMU defensive coordinator Kevin Kane as potential NIU hires, while mentioned Canada as a prospective Huskies coach.

Late last week, one source told PSN that Pitt was nearing an end to its search and hoped to have a press conference this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. But the interest of two of Pitt’s primary options in the NIU job may slow the process back down.

Of course, both candidates are very familiar to Pitt and Narduzzi. Canada was the offensive coordinator at Pitt in 2016 and worked with Narduzzi — ironically, at Northern Illinois — from 2000-02. Canada has extensive history at NIT, having coached there from 1998-03 and in 2011.

Rudolph was Pitt’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator from 2012-14 under Paul Chryst, the Panthers’ interim head coach for their 2014 Armed Forces Bowl appearance and someone that Narduzzi wanted to keep on his staff before Rudolph agreed to re-join Chryst at Wisconsin.

Here’s an update on some other names that we’ve mentioned as potential Pitt offensive coordinator candidates:

• Reports out of Cincinnati suggest that quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt will survive the firing of Marvin Lewis, even though a successor has yet to be officially named. Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor has been rumored to be the frontrunner.

• A shakeup of the offensive staff at Michigan State has given Brad Salem the offensive coordinator title. Head coach Mark Dantonio said that Salem had multiple offers to be a Power Five coordinator in the past and had stuck with the Spartans.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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