Lest anyone think that Tom Bradley won’t become the next head football coach at Pitt, I’m here to tell you he will.  The wild rumors of that actually happening won’t really come to fruition until a few other candidates have their chance to impress Steve Pederson and the handful of powerful Pitt executives in charge of finding the right person to handle the most important job in the University’s athletic department. 

Bradley easily fits into that category of people who are right for the position.  I’m sure that he did a wonderful job speaking about why he is the right person.  I’m just wondering why this didn’t take place back in December.

The man who can best answer that questions is Steve Pederson.  According to a source that I spoke to, Pederson had that chance last month when Bradley reached out to express an interest in the recently vacated job, only to be told his services would not be needed.

Really?  Are you serious?

Pederson cited on the day Mike Haywood was hired that Pitt only looked at coaches with prior head coaching experience.  But I wonder if Steve Pederson did not feel the need to talk to Bradley for other reasons?   Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Bradley has spent the past 32 years of his life in Happy Valley.  The fact he’s a Penn State guy.

I hope not, but I bet I’m right. 

Tom Bradley, as it turns out, is a Western Pennsylvania guy who grew up in Johnstown.  Did Pederson ever bother to realize that Tom’s father Jim, played basketball at Pitt?  That his brother is the orthopedic surgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers?  That Bradley has routinely over the years poached the best high school talent from Pitt’s backyard to play for the Lions?  Care for a short list?  How about LaVar Arrington, Paul Posluszny, Sean Lee , Justin King and Derek More for starters. 

Did Pederson listen to the Rooney family when they said that Bradley was a man who would do well in this job?  That he had integrity and would serve Pitt well as its head football coach?  I guess not and because of it, the relationship between the University and the Steelers are now strained because Pederson essentially ignored their input and passed on their advice because he apparently knows better. 

Does Pederson realize that his employer and the Steelers share two major sports facilities in town? 

Look, I’m not here to say that another candidate could be more qualified and could do a better job than Bradley.  Pederson and the hiring committee could meet somebody today that blows them away, leaving them to hire said candidate and leaving Bradley alone at the altar once again. 

I wouldn’t bet on it. 

Here’s one thing I am willing to bet on.  That Steve Pederson’s days as Pitt’s Athletic Director are numbered, despite the vote of confidence he got Saturday.

That vote of confidence is nothing more than a veil. How often have we seen that ‘vote’ given to a coach or AD, only to see them sent packing a short time later? 

More than once?  More than twice?  Maybe more often that you can remember? 

If Chancellor Mark Nordenberg doesn’t take a serious look at Pederson and the role he plays after the next head football coach is in place, he’s making a terrible mistake.  Pederson is now showing the pattern of behavior he displayed when he returned to Lincoln back in 2002.  After four years on the job at Nebraska, Pederson had burned so many bridges that University officials bought out his contract and sent him packing. 

You may not think of Nebraska as being very wealthy.  Let me tell you there is more cash out in those cornfields than you think.  Ever hear of Warren Buffet?  The word is that in Pederson’s short tenure back home as AD, he managed to send many of Nebraska’s long time donor’s into a rage with his style of how he spoke to them.  It didn’t take long for contributions to dry up. 

Oh and there was that whole Frank Solich firing for Bill Callahan thing.  How could you forget about that?  Solich won more games in his first six years than Tom Osborn & Bob Devaney and they both sit in the college football Hall of Fame, yet Pederson didn’t want Nebraska football to sink into ‘mediocrity.’

Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman needed just five minutes after meeting with Pederson on October 15th, 2007 to decided that he was no longer fit to serve as AD.  Perlman cited Pederson’s leadership style as his rationale for the change needed. 

Nordenberg may have to do the same.

I’m generally not someone to call for another’s job.  I’ve been fired myself.  Yes, its hard to believe right?  In this day and age, having a good job means a lot more, given the state of the economy.  I’m sure that whatever it may cost Pitt to do this, it will help Pederson get by.  Nebraska gave him a reported $2.2 million to leave.

Pederson’s actions in this most recent search for a head football coach at Pitt once again brings to light the need to have an AD who can hire the right personnel the first time.  Hiring people is not an easy task.  It requires a certain skill.  The ability to ask the right questions and actually hear what people say, or perhaps see how they answer the questions you ask.  Pederson clearly lacks these qualities. 

Before all of this happens of course, Pitt must hire a head football coach.  That’s the hard part.  Pitt must hire the right guy this time around.  Pitt cannot afford to suffer further embarrassment.

And having Steve Pederson as Athletic Director qualifies under that banner. 

John Phillips is the author of this article and a former Captain of an Alaskan King Crabbing boat that sank in the Bering Straight.  Phillips also finds time to work as a weekend talk-show host and sports anchor for Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.

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