Sources: Pitt has offered job to Wannstedt

Updated: December 23, 2004, 10:06 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Just when it appeared that Pittsburgh was poised to choose between current defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh as its new football coach, the emergence of a last-minute candidate delayed the process.

That would be former Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt, the early front-runner for the job before withdrawing his name from consideration last week.

Through NFL and university sources, ESPN's Chris Mortensen and ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli have confirmed Wannstedt, who last week said that the timing of the job at his alma mater was not right for him, has reconsidered.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, citing two sources, reported in Thursday's editions Wannstedt has been offered the job.

Wannstedt phoned Pittsburgh athletic director Jeff Long on Sunday evening, then the two spoke Tuesday about the job and the direction of the university's search for a successor to Walt Harris, who left the Panthers to become coach at Stanford.

Long and Wannstedt were to speak again Wednesday night. Wannstedt could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Sources said the university is willing to increase its contract proposal if Wannstedt is serious about taking the job. Sources say he is. It is believed that Pitt wants to have a new coach in place before Christmas, and it's no secret that, at the outset of the search, Wannstedt topped Pittsburgh's wish list.

Long had interviewed five other candidates: New York Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, Carolina Panthers defensive line coach Sal Sunseri, Cavanaugh, Rhoads and Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. All but Pelini have ties to the university. Lewis, Cavanaugh and Sunseri all played for the Panthers.

Rhoads and Cavanaugh were the only candidates interviewed twice.

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