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.