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November 28, 2010

Finding The Words

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Wannstedt — Chas @ 12:22 am

Traveled home today. Lots of traveling around the last few days has kept me from having time to post (kind of obvious, huh?). I’ve had time to think about all of what I saw. Both yesterday and all season.

I think the worst thing, is that I can’t even muster the anger. I’m down. Despondent. Frustrated. Not surprised, though. It seemed that I checked out emotionally on the season before this game.

Bryan at PittScript has the summary of the media turning on Wannstedt. This, sadly, has been Wannstedt’s history with his headcoaching gigs. He has everyone willing/wanting to believe. He says all the right things. Appears to do all the right things. Everyone is charmed. Especially the media and decision makers. He’s so accessible. So likable. So genuine. You want to believe. They want to believe. You want him to succeed. They want him to do it. Everyone really does…

But it never happens. There’s always something that goes wrong. An injury. A weak link. A brain fart.

The fans start getting weary. They see it happening. They complain. Those who are in the media and in charge suggest that people are overreacting. That everything is in place. That Coach Wannstedt will get it done.

They ignore the fact that he refuses to admit that anything has changed in his 30+ years of coaching. The spread — a gimmick offense. A defense that relies on speed is still unique, innovative and a special advantage because other teams don’t do that. That offenses have to be low risk to minimize mistakes, and that the highest compliment that can be paid to a QB is that he is a “game manager.”

He’s nothing like a Chan Gailey or Al Groh. It’s different. No really.

It was all supposed to come together this year. All the near misses in previous years building to the perfect season. The depth. The talent. The coaching.

And then a season like this.

You know what makes all of this so depressing. So tiresome. So familiar?

…He discusses the arrogance of Wannstedt. It’s a good point, because when Wannstedt says the things, he tends to do in a congenial way. A manner that is disarming, but is rife with condescension. He talks of his experience and how he has his way of doing things and how they have always worked (and then hopes no one realizes he’s talking 20 years ago or so).

If you have followed Wanny’s head coaching career in Chicago and Miami, then you should know this is the choppy point. Last year, the fan support was eroding — and then forestalled by the WVU win — but the media was still with him. Give him more time they said. Why? Because Wanny is so darn likable. Everyone wants him to succeed who is in contact with him.

Then this season has started with more of the same. Guess what’s happening to the media backing?…

I wrote that over two years ago after the Bowling Green loss. Perhaps at the time that was reactionary. Like here (man, I was not happy with the first half of 2008).

I suppose that’s what it comes down to with Coach Dave Wannstedt. We all know it on some level. Some are comfortable with it. Others not so much. Still others frustrated, because they believed he might change and adapt.

Right now, I’m at the point where I acknowledge it. Wannstedt’s actions — playing those who he thinks knows the system best regardless of their talent and ability to actually execute, fearing mistakes to the point of paralysis on developing the talent behind the starters, preferring to hire coaches to whom he has the deepest ties to and won’t challenge his assumptions (classic groupthink), sticking with one system and game plan regardless of the talent rather than adapting the gameplan and system to the talent, and playing not to lose (and yes, I know I’ve left stuff out) — all say he isn’t changing.

I thought for myself that Wannstedt was capable of adapting. That while he would stick to his basic priniciples of what he believes, he could tweak and adjust things as a head coach at college. That Wannstedt would be Pete Carroll-esque with more than just having similar enthusiasm and energy.

Instead, it is rather clear that Wannstedt has followed the path of Al Groh and Chan Gailey. Playing somewhere around mediocrity.

Now it all just seems apt.

The real question for me, is does anything really change this year? We all know that Wannstedt is extended until the end of 2014. We don’t know what AD Pederson and Chancellor Nordenberg are thinking. We know they are all considered fairly tight, but they can’t be blind to the results and the likely fallout in ticket sales for 2011 and beyond.

Is this the traditional year where a couple assistants are sacrificed — DC Bennett and a random position assistant or two — to give Wannstedt one more year to prove that he can get this program anywhere near expectations? And almost as important — reduce any cost of buyout.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Auburn or Pitt or Michigan. To buy out a contract with more than a couple years, you don’t want to tap your athletic department fund. You want your big donors to help pony up the money to buy out the guy. To help pay for the next guy.

Are the big donors for Pitt ready to pay? Are they still in Wannstedt’s corner?

I don’t know the answers. I know what I think should happen. I know how I feel about it. But it’s not my money. It doesn’t get to be my call.





Mike Leach needs a Job.

He was at 1.7 mill a year when he was fired @ Texas Tech he started there @ 1.2 mil. He is considered desperate to clear his name and get back on the field so he may take 1.2 million or slightly more again to get back in the game.

If our Offense put up 50 to 70 points a game we should see a substantial increase in ticket and licensed apparel sales that would more then make up the difference in salary.

People have not got behind this team because they break your heart and are boring when they win.

I’m sure that Nordy isn’t looking at Mike Leach and that some other school will pick this guy up and we will wish we did.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 11.29.10 @ 11:06 am

Pittsburgh TV announcing that TCU is moving to the Big East. News conference scheduled for this afternoon.

Comment by TampaT 11.29.10 @ 12:20 pm

Oops guess I should have looked forward. Old news. Sorry, Chas.

Comment by TampaT 11.29.10 @ 12:23 pm

As a Pitt fan for over 40 years, for all but about 10 of those, we have been always looking forward to being a great team next year. As someone noted above, we play our best football in the pre-season. What makes anyone think the same dumb mistakes, the same bad sideline calls, the same lazy pass routes, the same lack of strength and aggressiveness, and the same off season arrests won’t happen next year? These are all kids that Wanny recruited now. Great, he graduates players, and doesn’t break NCAA rules. That is a minimum for being a coach at Pitt – and at plenty of other Division I schools. As bad a coach as he is, he better, because that may be the only thing that keeps him around. By the way, Walt Harris ran the program the same way from that standpoint. And so will our next coach. That is the school, not the coach.

Comment by PO'd Panther 11.29.10 @ 2:34 pm

Chas,

I am not sure if you were picking a position out of the hat…but don’t a lot of programs convert linemen to centers? It takes not only experience but a couple of years in the weight program to make a good center. I am sure that someone can cite examples each way but I never had a problem with converting other linemen to center. Now, I know that Pitt didn’t have many choices of linemen to convert to center….

And, for the record, if I had a wish/say-so in all of this, it would be for Wannstedt to accept the ‘Special Assistant to the Chancellor in charge of Football Related Alumni Relations’ position and for Pitt to go and get Mike Leach. But I will also go on record as saying that, if that were to happen, Wannstedt has left the program in better shape than when he took over. Obviously, none of his stated goals (then or now) were accomplished. But he didn’t (yet) run the ship in the reef. I don’t hold any animosity towards the guy.

Comment by George 11.29.10 @ 4:46 pm

Mike Leach is loving life in Key West and is available. Miami just fired their head coach. Coincidence?

Comment by 66Goat 11.29.10 @ 8:23 pm

You guys are delusional. Mike Leach? Are you kidding me? Why in the world would he want to come to Pitt? You act as if Al Golden would be moving up in the world if he goes to you guys. I have news for you, Temple is a better program than Pitt. The MAC is better than the Big East.

You guys act as if people will line up for the job. Minnesota is a better job than Pitt. You know why? Minnesota plays in a real conference.

Comment by Ron Cook's Sweater 11.29.10 @ 9:13 pm

All successful football programs have a competent QB and has the succession of the position in place. With all of the problems Pitt has had this year in various positions the root of the team failure is the decision not to get a qualified high school QB in place a couple of years ago. Currently, there are three QB’s in the MAC Conference who would have given Pitt a chance to have won at least 4 more games. They play for Miami OH, Western MI and Northern Illinois. Pitt could have had any one of them but they just did not do it. Sunseri was not even recruited by one MAC team and the Rivals listing was bogus.

All programs miss on recruits but those who misjudge the QB position are doomed to fail. If Wanny is fired this one bad decision will be the cause of his demise.

Comment by coach xxx 11.30.10 @ 12:00 am

We are delusional? The guy that wrote that the MAC is better than the Big East? WOW. I don’t know what you are taking but if you don’t stop soon, your brains will be dripping out your nose.

Comment by George 11.30.10 @ 9:10 am

Hey George The BE is a stronger conference than the MAC overall but this year Pitt would not win the MAC. If you check the scores for UCONN you will see that they were thrashed by Temple. UCONN wins the Big East but Temple could not win the MAC.

Comment by coach xxx 11.30.10 @ 3:14 pm

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