Florida will be playing the Gator Bowl against Ohio State with a new offensive coordinator after Charlie Weis bolted for Kansas, but the Gators might not be the only team with a change on its coaching staff before the bowl game.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday morning that Ohio State coach Luke Fickell has interviewed for the Pittsburgh head coaching vacancy.
Fickell has served as Ohio State’s interim coach after being promoted from his defensive coordinator position in the wake of Jim Tressell’s resignation in May.
He is expected to coach Ohio State in the bowl game, but that could change if he is hired at Pittsburgh. The Panthers went 6-6 in 2011 and will play Southern Methodist in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson has been named the interim coach for the bowl game.
While it’s unclear if Fickell would leave Ohio State prior to the bowl game if he were hired, his interviewing for the job will likely provide a similar distraction for his team leading up to the Gator Bowl as Weis’ departure has caused the Gators.
Florida has faced an interim coach in a bowl game in recent history, taking on Cincinnati in the 2009 BCS Sugar Bowl after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame.
Interestingly enough, Cincinnati interim coach Jeff Quinn was hired by Buffalo about a week and a half prior to coaching the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl against the Gators. The Gators handed Quinn and the Bearcats their first loss of the season in a 51-24 beatdown.
The Gators will also be going up against a Buckeyes team that will soon be led by former Florida coach Urban Meyer. Meyer took the Ohio State job less than a year after resigning from Florida for health and family reasons.
Meyer isn’t the only former Florida coach who has been involved in a job search this offseason.
Two other former Florida coaches are also candidates for the Pittsburgh job, according to the Post-Gazette.
The Post-Gazette reports former Florida head coach Ron Zook, who was recently fired from Illinois after following up a 6-0 start to the 2011 season with an 0-6 finish, has had contact with Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson.
Multiple outlets including the Post-Gazette have reported former Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is a candidate for the opening.
Austin served as Florida’s defensive coordinator for the 2010 season after Charlie Strong took the head coaching position at Louisville. Austin was not retained when Will Muschamp was hired at Florida, and he has spent the past year as the defensive backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens. He is a Pittsburgh alumnus.