Michael Haywood was then hired December 16, but was fired on January 1st after he was arrested and jailed on New Year's Eve on a domestic violence charge. Graham was hired on January 14, but left after the 2011 season to become head coach at Arizona State. Patterson became head coach No. 5 when he was named interim head coach for Pitt's repeat appearance in this year's BBVA Compass Bowl game. Chryst was announced as the new man in charge on December 22.
Ironically, SMU head coach June Jones was the leading the candidate for the ASU job until negotiations broke off.
Pitt will be playing in its 28th bowl game overall and fourth in-a-row while becoming the first team to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl for the second time. The Panthers carry a 2-bowl winning streak and a 12-15 all-time bowl record into the game.
SMU (7-5, 5-3 Conference USA) will be playing in its third consecutive bowl game under Jones after being absent from the postseason from 1985 to 2008. Jones in his fourth year at the helm of the Mustangs’ program and will be seeking his 100th career coaching victory.
Jones coached nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to a BCS berth in 2007 at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Prior to heading to Hawaii, Jones had a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta and San Diego.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com project Pitt as a 2.84-point winner.