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U. of Pittsburgh
Nebraska interested in Rhoads; Harris mum on UCLA opening

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

By Shelly Anderson, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The names of Pitt coaches keep turning up in conjunction with job openings around the country.

Nebraska is interested in Panthers defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, and Pitt head coach Walt Harris is a potential candidate at UCLA.

The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star is reporting that Rhoads, in his third season with Pitt, was contacted by Nebraska Coach Frank Solich about its vacant defensive coordinator’s job. Solich fired defensive coordinator Craig Bohl last week.

Rhoads is on the road recruiting and was not available for comment last night.

Headed into the Insight Bowl, the Panthers’ defense is ranked high in several categories in NCAA Division I, including No. 11 overall, giving up an average of 293.4 yards a game. Last year, the Pitt defense finished ranked in the top 30 in five statistical categories.

Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson has neither confirmed nor denied reports that he is a candidate to become the new AD at Nebraska.

Harris, meanwhile, declined to comment after a report in the Los Angeles Daily News said he is a potential candidate at UCLA, which fired Coach Bob Toledo.

Harris, in his sixth season with the Panthers, is a California native. UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said West Coast ties would make any candidate appealing.

Harris’ name also has been linked to searches for a new coach at Alabama and Michigan State in recent weeks.

In his only comments, about the Michigan State opening, Harris last month referred to two years ago, when Alabama and Ohio State showed interest in him but he pledged to stay at Pitt. He is under contract through 2006.

The Panthers (8-4, 5-2 in the Big East) are ranked No. 25 and are headed to the Insight Bowl Dec. 26 in Phoenix, where they will play Oregon State (8-4, 4-4 in the Pacific-10). It is Pitt’s fourth bowl trip and third in as many seasons under Harris.

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