Todd Graham left Pitt the carpetbagger's way: After a short spell of bragging, empty promises and failure -- and with bags of flim-flam cash. Graham demonstrated his character by informing players with a notification big on personal touches -- God and family -- that was delivered by text message and indirectly, through the e-mail account of a mid-level functionary employed by Pitt's foundering football program.
Graham's slinking departure was not -- or at least should not have been -- unexpected among the men (Steve Pederson, Mark Nordenberg, Jerry Cochran) ultimately responsible for mismanaging Pitt's football program and leaving the Big East in much the manner Graham ditched them. Todd Graham's disenchantment had been reflected by short-termer behavior and increasing insubordination for some time.
One example: Graham (or, more accurate, Graham's wife, Penni) wanted to indulge one of Graham's children by enabling the child to dance in a Panther costume along the Heinz Field sideline during home games. The idea met resistance among several elements of Pitt's athletics department, for several reasons. Penni Graham persisted, until the mini-mascot issue reached the athletics director, Steve Pederson, who ruled the child off the field.
During Pitt's final home game, however, Graham's child -- wearing a tiny panther costume apparently purchased independently by the Grahams, and a Pitt jersey labeled "GRAHAM" -- nevertheless appeared along the Pitt sideline, dancing near the student section. One person familiar with the associated events pointed at the dancing child and said, "See that kid in the costume? That kid on the field today means Graham knows either he is gone or Pederson is gone. Not sure which, but it's one or the other."
Pitt fans should hope that this observer was wrong, and that Pitt will soon be rid of Pederson, too.
UPDATE: It is becoming common currency among substantial Pitt boosters that Graham was pursuing several prospective employers for weeks if not months. Many influential Pitt supporters -- and a number of trustees -- are focusing on dumping Pederson, and some are expressing an inclination to reconsider Nordenberg's fitness if the chancellor attempts to protect the athletics director.
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