After eight seasons as Pitt’s defensive coordinator, Paul Rhoads has accepted an offer to become Auburn’s defensive coordinator.
Rhoads interviewed Wednesday with Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who has been searching for a replacement for Will Muschamp, who left to become defensive coordinator at Texas.
Rhoads, 40, who has been Pitt’s defensive coordinator since 2000, already had turned down Auburn once, when offered the same position by Tuberville in 2002. Pitt made a counteroffer and extended his contract, and Rhoads was retained when Dave Wannstedt replaced Walt Harris in ’04.
The high-energy Rhoads spent seven seasons as Pitt’s secondary coach, developing NFL talents such as Torrie Cox, Shawntae Spencer and Darrelle Revis, before taking over the linebackers this past fall, where junior Scott McKillop developed into a third-team All-American.
Under Rhoads direction, the Panthers’ defense struggled for a few seasons before recovering this fall to rank first in the Big East Conference and fifth nationally – one spot ahead of Auburn – in total defense at 297.67 yards per game.
Rhoads became a coveted candidate following Pitt’s 13-9 upset victory over then-No. 2 West Virginia on Dec. 1, when the Panthers held the Mountaineers to 183 total yards – 291.8 below their average -and just 104 rushing yards.