December 7, 2010

Shows how much I know about the timing of these things, huh? I pushed that post out, and then had to spend the afternoon at my daughter’s dance performance. It was out in poor reception, so I didn’t even get some of the texts right away.

Pitt put out an official press release.

Dave Wannstedt announced today he will resign as head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Wannstedt informed Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson of his decision Tuesday.

He will remain at Pitt in the capacity of special assistant to the athletic director.

“The past six years have been among the most gratifying of my entire career,” said Wannstedt, a 1974 graduate of Pitt and former standout offensive tackle for the Panthers. “To be the head coach at my university was the realization of a lifelong dream. It has been an honor and privilege to serve Pitt and its football program.

“I’ve always told our players that the University of Pittsburgh will mean more to them than just four years of school and football. It will influence and inspire everything they do long after their last class and final game. I know that firsthand. I owe so much of my life to the education and experiences I had here. Pitt has always been, and will continue to be, an incredibly special place for my family and me.”

“On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh, I’d like to thank Coach Wannstedt for his passionate and committed service the past six years,” Pederson said. “This has never been just a job for Dave. He is wholeheartedly committed to Pitt and its people. We are greatly appreciative of his efforts to build a strong program on and off the field.”

It’s weird.

A year ago, there was dreamy/happy/rainbows & unicorns talk of Coach Wannstedt retiring down the road and getting bumped into the athletic department as some sort of special advisor enjoying basking in the glow of what he accomplished at Pitt, with OC Frank Cignetti taking over as head coach to carry on a return to greatness for Pitt football.

Now, Wannstedt  has “resigned”  much like Phil Fulmer at Tennessee and Johnny Majors in the 90s resigned at Pitt. A face-saving ploy that everyone knows is pure spin. Cignetti is serving as the interim head coach, trying to get the full-time position while fans are tossing any name out there but his.

I really didn’t think this was going to happen. It all seemed like a standard procedure. DC Bennett was going to be scapegoated. A few other position coaches would be sacrificed. All to give Wannstedt one more year to show 2010 was the aberration. Not to mention take another year off the contract and subsequent buyout.

I take no great joy in the end of Wannstedt’s time as Pitt’s head coach. It may be trite, and it will be repeated ad nauseum, but Wannstedt is a good guy. He truly loves Pitt and Pittsburgh, and everyone wanted to see him succeed. He was honorable in his time as head coach. Taking great care and pride in the “student” side of the student-athletetes for whom he was responsible. He was very good for the program in so many ways.

Simply put, though, he just wasn’t a very good head coach. More than issues with his style of play on either side of the ball. He was just not good on gameday coaching. For a coach that stressed mistake-free play and fundamentals, his teams rarely played that way for very long. In his six years, he did win more than he lost, but there were so many more losses than should have been.

I have no doubt, though, that what really forced the move to push Wannstedt out, was the widespread fanbase dissatisfaction. The administration had to know that after all the building and pushing to make this the big year, that they were looking at a debacle in 2011 in getting people to come to the game.

The apathy — which is far worse than anger — was starting to descend around the football program. A belief that the administration was going to stand pat and let things stay the way they are, and the helplessness that is felt when the general fanbase is ignored. That there was no real hope for more than finishing a couple games over .500 every year,

This move may cost the athletic department more than they would like, but the losses in 2011 started projecting to be far worse.

I’m not going to lie, people need to really be careful with all the NFL talk. It has been shown time and time again that NFL coaches who try to bring their expertise and knowledge to the college game fail. They simply just don’t get it. Trying to play mistake-free football and win games based on field position just doesn’t work in college. Just take a look at the two teams playing for the national title right now. They were both considered also-rans in their conferences FOREVER. They hired young, creative coaches who were willing to take a chance and change the game. The two most wide open and prolific offenses (sans Hawaii and Nevada) and two of the top defenses are now playing for a title. Wake up, smell the coffee, make the change. Playing NFL football never has, and never will, work in college.

Comment by Alex 12.08.10 @ 1:47 am

Also, I’ll take Rich Rod. Seriously.

Comment by Alex 12.08.10 @ 2:03 am

I wish AD Pederson good luck in finding a young coach like Jamie Dixon. My guess is that Tim Lewis and Sal Sunseri are the likely candidates from outside and Frank Cignetti from the current staff.

Comment by Terry 12.08.10 @ 3:28 am

For those of you out there who think those of us that wanted Dave W replaced as haters let me tell you something.

Today’s conference broke my heart. That’s right it tore me up. To see a Pitt guy through and through with tears in his eyes who is being forced out is not what I or I would dare say most of us wanted.

Think what could’ve been…

In 2008 — If you beat Bowling Green on your home field and Oregon State WITHOUT the Rogers brothers, you have an 11-win season complete with a nice bowl win and people are feeling really good about your program

2009 — A chance to be 12-0 but you blow a game to NC State, come up flat against WVU, blow a 21 point lead to Cincy.

2010 — a weak Big East and you had a definitive shot at winning it all being up two games and you go onto to blow that lead.

Imagine best case scenario…11 wins, 12 wins and BCS, 8 win season (minimum with a UConn win) and a second BCS birth.

I think he does any one of those three things and coach Dave W is still here. But if he does all three Pitt is set and so is Dave W’s legacy.

No I would say there isn’t a single one of us who didn’t want the above. I wish it would’ve happened, because I hated what I saw yesterday.

So if you think I am hater, think again. It’s a sad day but hope springs eternal.


Comment by DaveD 12.08.10 @ 3:28 am

I think it would be LOL great if we got Rich Rod and he won us a national championship. I wonder how many Hoopies would commit sepuku?

Comment by BnG 12.08.10 @ 3:31 am

If what some media reports are true regarding the final straw (one of them anyway) that broke the camel’s back, being the off season arrests and DW’s handling of them, is true… I’m not sure PITT will want to promote anyone currently on staff.

I’m not saying there aren’t viable candidates there – Gattuso I like and fans seem to think Cignetti would be a good one – but the administration may want to go in a totally different direction.

In all this discussion about DW, and I – like Chas – didn’t think this would happen this year – I’ve maintained two things… 1) That DW wouldn’t leave $5.6M dollars on the table and 2) that embarrassment to the program would be a contributing factor in a change at HC.

Apparently those were true. There are a lot of similarities between now and 2004 with one big difference – that new rock solid four year contract that DW signed…Harris wasn’t extended on contract so PITT could easily cut ties completely with him.

But those four arrests, and the way DW handled the Sheard situation had to have some impact here. The PITT administration is loathe to upset the local community – and the South Side was up in arms about Sheard’s situation – and is equally dedicated to keeping PITT’s name out of the national gossip column.

The crux of this issue are the results on the football field to be sure, but PITT could easily have kept DW for a few more years at the current winning pace, because he was winning more than he lost – the tipping point may have been something different.

I respect the hell out of DW as a man, I think he’s made some egregious errors in decision making but none out of malice, but this is good news for PITT and shows that they have their eyes on a bigger picture than any one thing.

Comment by Reed 12.08.10 @ 3:46 am

DaveD, the morning after is a sad one as well. I would love to visit Wanny with my dog to get a smile out of him.

But bottom line, by not correctly utilizing the best players on the squad Wanny did not give the team the best chance to win.

And if I’m a player that would pretty much be a downer.

Comment by steve 12.08.10 @ 6:36 am

Go back to the script logo and I don’t care if they offered the job to Joe Del Sardo!!!

Comment by FlipToScript 12.08.10 @ 7:32 am

I posted this on another blog:

This was a business decision based on the prospects of future economic success of the football program. Viewed through that prism, it was not a decision at all; it was a foregone conclusion. I, for one, am energized by the change and will renew my season tickets which is exactly why Pitt made the move. I had to fire my secretary once because she couldn’t transition from a typewriter to a word processor. Nicest lady in the world and her fellow employees wanted to tar and feather me. These decisions are never easy to make and the people who do not understand them are reporting to the person who makes them for a reason. Frankly, I couldn’t understand what was taking Pitt so long. Anyway I wish Wannstedt well but he had to go.

Regarding the next coach, the best advice I could offer Pederson is to appoint a search committee which includes one voting member: Jamie Dixon.

Comment by wally 12.08.10 @ 7:35 am

You people are a complete bunch of phonies. In weeks past, I read the most vile, hateful comments about Wanny on this board. Now all of a sudden you feel sympathy? What a complete bunch of hypocrites.

I also love your new coach fantasies. Tom Bradley? Come on. Kirk (who someone called Chuck) Ferentz? Why in the world would these guys want to come to Pitt? You people just don’t get it; the Big East is a step below the MAC. Pitt will never contend for a NC in that conference. If the rumblings about Pitt and the Big Ten were true, they should fire the guy that nixed that one.

Comment by Tom 12.08.10 @ 7:42 am

Zeise does a great blog about potention PITT candidate.

My favorite would be TERYL AUSTIN for sure. We wouldn’t miss a beat with the recruiting and he would add Florida and the southeastern recruiting to our ranks given his current position as Defensive Coordinator at Florida. Great people skills. Has been around winning football at the highest levels (NFL, Michigan). And YES he is a PITT guy which means something (despite the contrary by some) when you are looking for a person who understands the culture and would pure his heart out for the university.

link to

quoting Zeise
“Teryl Austin – Florida defensive coordinator – Of all the “Pitt” guys out there, this one is the only guy who would really, I think, have a legitimate shot to get an interview. Austin played at Pitt from 1984-87 and at 45 he, like Stoops, is ready to take the next step. He is best known for his work as a recuiter when he was at Michigan from 1999-2002 and he was cleaning up recruiting in Western Pennsylvania. He is still known as a top recruiter and in the six years since Pitt last had an opening (and Austin was considered too young and not experienced enough for the job) he has added two Super Bowls as an assistant coach (once with Arizona and once with Seattle, though his team lost to the Steelers both times) and he has added his current position – a coordinator in one of the top programs in the country – to his resume. Austin is a family man and he is a minority to boot. It also can’t hurt that he has spent a year working with Urban Meyer and studying that offense every day at practice. He is the kind of hire Pederson talked about making – excellent character, record of success, a history of being a part of successful programs and he is an excellent recruiter.”

Others on the list that would be interesting would be:

Chris Petersen (Boise) – Has to be 1 or 2 on the list of dream candidates. Would required a serious financial commitment which might be a push given the current Wannstedt financial settlement.

Greg Gattuso (Pitt) – D line has been solid. He knows the team and recruiting. If he isnt hired as head coach then Teryl Austin or Chris Peterson should hire him immediately as D-Coordinator and sure up the current recruits.

Mark Stoops (FSU) – if you go after him then you certainly would have to give Teryl Austin first look since Austin is more qualified and has several other intangibles.

Dana Holgorsen (OK St) – The Pitt Offense under achieved this year and next season without Baldwin (can’t believe he is ready for the NFL but hey) gone it will be a little more important to get a good offensive guy on board. He has to be 4th best choice at best.

Al Golden (Temple head Coach)- three word doom him. Temple, Penn State (dream job). It’s temple for goodness sakes.

So what I see is that we really only have three real candidates and they are Great Options

1) Teryl Austin (U of Florida D- Coordinator)
2) Chris Peterson (Boise Head Coach)
3) Greg Gattuso(Pitt D-line)

Comment by PITT fan in Atlanta 12.08.10 @ 8:23 am

im super pumped that he was fir- i mean resigned

do i enjoy a man’s failure? sometimes (rich rod) but not in this case… his failures weighed on all rational pitt fans, his failures as a coach (when the ship crashes its the captain’s fault, Big Guy) cost this university money and prestige, and his inability to act like a man and ever take any responsibility or use correct grammar during press conferences straight up pissed me off

thankfully he didnt make a scene or play hard ball, so i am grateful for that

but lets not forget that this man has been holding us back for 6 years now as the 6th place record in the Big Least showed… time for a new era and good riddance

Comment by DeVanzo 12.08.10 @ 8:31 am

I was excited just reading Zeise’s list of potential candidates. Some great young guys on there that may be able to come in and shake things up. Chris Petersen from Boise State??? As Zeise said, its a pipe dream but you have to at least make the phone call.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.08.10 @ 8:36 am

This needed to be done. The program has some talent. This hire is extremely important. They need to get it right.

Comment by Pittastic 12.08.10 @ 9:08 am

What are the chances that Chris Petersen would come in here?

Comment by Pedro Salgado 12.08.10 @ 9:15 am

Sunseri should start studying the defensive playbook so he can play in the secondary.

Comment by Pittastic 12.08.10 @ 9:18 am

Grimm has no chance. Didn’t graduate while at Pitt.

Comment by Why me 12.08.10 @ 9:24 am

Teryl Austin certainly checks a lot of the boxes of experience and intagibles the administration should be seeking. I will be extremely dissapointed if he is not given significant consideration.

And, though it makes my skin crawl, I’m warming to the thought of Tom Bradley.

Comment by ECH 12.08.10 @ 9:32 am

Zeise’s list may be the stupidest thing I ever saw. Austin wanted to be defensive coordinator when Wannstedt hired Bennett but Pitt didn’t want him. Now they would want him to be the head coach? Greg Gattuso as head coach? You can’t be serious. And Chris Pederson? Why in God’s green earth would he leave a perennial national championship contender where he makes a ton of money for anything but a perennial national championship contender where he will make a ton of money? Ludicrous.

Comment by Mark 12.08.10 @ 9:42 am

i do not like the fire right now…i would have waited 1 more yr, it is a young team and see how they respond, if he was 7-5 next yr, then i can see the firing, but not now…this will put pitt back another 2-3 yrs…fire peterson..

Comment by mike 12.08.10 @ 10:00 am

I agree with Mike

Comment by shadyforpresident 12.08.10 @ 10:18 am

mike leach should be considered even if miami is talking to him. but how about leach’s OC at the time Dana Holgorsen. that’d be a hell of a signing and bring people into the stands to see exciting offensive football. something pitt has lacked under wanny

Comment by dave 12.08.10 @ 10:19 am

zeise loves throwing out this stat:

The Panthers are also 26-12 in the past three seasons, and those 26 victories represent the most in a three-year stretch by a Pitt team since the 1981, ’82 and ’83 teams.

well, guess what? wanny was just 3-9 vs. teams in the top 25. end of story.

Comment by scott 12.08.10 @ 10:43 am

Let’s define what is acceptable for the new coach when we review his performance this time next year. First, anything less than making it to a BCS bowl would have to be unacceptable. DW made it to three straight bowl games, but it was unacceptable that DW did not make it to a BCS bowl.

Won/loss record? If the new coach comes in at 7-5, that is totally unacceptable. A 7-5 record gets a coach fired. My guess is that an 8-4 record falls in the same category. Some posters were not happy with an9-3 record. So what record do we applaud next year and what record do we not renew our season ticket subscription? Let’s not make any excuses like, “Well, we have to give the new coach a chance”. That ain’t gonna work. The criterion is “What record would we have anticipated from DW, and what record did the new coach produce?” Giving the new coach slack time has connotations that the issue was DW and not DW’s performance.

Comment by BigGuy 12.08.10 @ 10:46 am

Dana Holgorsen

Sign the guy

“Dana Holgorsen’s name comes up quickly in any discussion about Oklahoma State’s 2010 season. The offensive coordinator came to Stillwater via Houston, where he ran the most productive offense in college football in 2009.”

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.08.10 @ 10:49 am


Excellent point, that is the first question the prospective head coach should ask when he interviews.

Comment by shadyforpresident 12.08.10 @ 10:57 am

Teryl Austin, a great recruiter. Didn’t we just fire a great recruiter. Give me some head coach experience.

Comment by alcofan 12.08.10 @ 11:02 am

Those of you down on Leach have it all wrong. Leach is a great coach and he doesn’t put up with the crap Wannstedt was willing to. Yes, he is strict. He is not abusive. How would you like to be a coach (or teacher or principal) and have an obnoxious kid and his parent trying to take a bite out of your ass every second of the day. Craig James’ kid is a punk. Lazy, disrespectful punk. All Texas Tech was trying to do was to cheat Leach out of the pay he deserved. Look at Tech this year…toilet bowl.

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.08.10 @ 11:04 am

You showed Walt the door and “upgraded” to Wanny. Now that you have fired Wanny you had better upgrade. Anything less would be a travesty. Open up the purse strings and bring in someone like Stoops (OK) or Pelini. IF you are really serious that you want to win and do better than Wanny, then OPEN THE DAMN PURSE and pay for a QUALITY coach, not an “Up and comer,” or a retread.

You wanted Wanny gone, so now it’s time to pay the piper. Be damn serious and bring in a PROVEN winner. Everyone is throwing out these names like Austin, Peterson, Grimm and Holgorsen. Damn the torpedos, full steam ahead…go for the gold or join Duquesne’s conference.

You bring in Austin, Grimm or Holgorsen and you are going 7-5 or worse next year. NO ONE is coming in here and going 10-2 with a new offense and a new defense unless it’s a big name that’s going to really light a fire and change things.

The devil has called and he says it’s time to pay, so pay up and bring in the best. If it wasn’t Wanny, than it better be an upgrade.

Comment by WH 12.08.10 @ 11:07 am

Pitt doesn’t need to pay a ton of money for a great coach, they just need to be intelligent. My only requirement is that the new coach NOT be a Pittsburgh guy. People are so freaking dumb around here that they’d rather have someone local than someone who can actually put a great team together. I can’t live through 6 more years of blind hero worship just because someone was born within a 100 mile radius of the school.

Comment by J-Maile 12.08.10 @ 11:19 am

I think some need to slow down on the hand wringing and the Wanny remorse. No one is going to say he wasn’t a great guy and didn’t try to his best to win, graduate kids, and promote the University.

However, Wanny was only a marginally successful 24-18 in what is widely considered the poorest of the major 6 conferences. Beyond that, he was a less than mediocre 5-9 versus BCS competition.

If the Administration aspires to be better than average to less than average, this move HAD to be made. I was begining to wonder if the University was interested in seriously competing in football. Clearly, I was not alone in these thoughts as fan anger has been rapidly evolving into apathy…and that is the death knell of an athletic department. I am encouraged by this decision and look look forward to the next chapter of Pitt Panther Football.

Comment by ECH 12.08.10 @ 11:20 am

Of the potential candidates, e.g., Austin, Grimm, Holgorsen etc., which one will bring some all American recruits with him?

Comment by shadyforpresident 12.08.10 @ 11:21 am

“You people just don’t get it; the Big East is a step below the MAC.”

Exaggerate much?

The difference between Pitt fans and other fans: Other fans exaggerate to make things seem better for the team than they are. Pitt fans actually exaggerate to make things seem worse. Don’t wallow in some lame-ass “Whoa are us” attitude.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 12.08.10 @ 11:26 am

Jim Bollman. Offensive Coordinator for Ohio State. Smart, successful, and a good recruiter in Ohio and PA.

Comment by TPC1066 12.08.10 @ 11:30 am

Tom and BigGuy are on point.

Comment by matt42 12.08.10 @ 11:35 am

Jimbo, you are correct. Anyone who says that the Big East is a step below the MAC has zero credibility. Anything elase said by him cannot be taken seriously even if he meant the statement to be hyperbole.

Comment by BigGuy 12.08.10 @ 11:35 am

PITT has to become the flagship Big East football school, similiar to Va Tech in the ACC. They win the conference title more often than not.

Comment by Pittastic 12.08.10 @ 12:51 pm

dana holgorsen dana holgorsen if he comes you wont miss a game.offensive genius .

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.08.10 @ 1:34 pm

Lets be clear about this “resignation”, Wannesteadt did it the old fashioned way,….. he earned it! Now if he is REALLY still within the Pitt athletic organization then he should be doing damage control right now, still keeping contact with his recruits and insuring them that Pitt is still It. He actually IS good at that and should focus on recruiting at this point of transition if he wants to prove what a loyal Pitt Guy he is. Here is my dream, can you imagine the hype this program would get by having Bill Cowher hired to whip this team into shape. It would be a fricken media frenzy for a month! Hey, I’m allowed to dream, never thought my dream of having Wannestedt step down after this debacle of a season would happen either, but…..

Comment by Dr Tom 12.08.10 @ 2:10 pm

I can’t believe there are still people that are saying, “I think one more year would have been fair”, what, 7 years? Then next year, “he almost has it together, how bout one more?” Jeez allready!!

Comment by DAN 12.08.10 @ 3:02 pm

Dan, Dan 72, DeVanzo, Frankcan, and the many who stated that DW should be replaced, please respond to my earlier post. Simply put, you anticipated that DW’s performance next year would be unacceptable. What record did you anticipate from DW? For the new coach, what record would you find acceptable and what record would you find unacceptable?

Comment by BigGuy 12.08.10 @ 3:33 pm

As we ALL should know the future is a crap shoot.
I would hope that AD Pederson has someone or someone(s) who have already expressed interest in the HC job BEFORE he forced Wanny out the door.

Obviously with a hastily called News Conference late yesterday, something must have happened during their meeting that had Pederson asking Wanny to resign or ELSE. Pederson had to have asked Wanny to do something he wasn’t going to do.
When he refused he was asked to resign. What that might have been is indeed something interesting to think about.

Though DW didn’t win the so-called big games as often as he should have, remember this he did get Pitt into the Final rankings Top 15 in 2009, the first time that had happened since 1982 or 1983.
WH never came close to doing that !

Finally if Pitt wants to win big-time in football they’re going to have to ‘ante up’ some money like they did in basketball. Pitt basketball wasn’t much to speak of (except for a short period of time in the late ’80’s, early 90’s UNTIL they invested over $200 Million in building The Pete. Since I doubt they’re going to build an on campus football stadium in the near future, they need to invest the money on a Top Coach and his asst’s. It’s a lot cheaper than building an on campus stadium.

Comment by carolinapanther 12.08.10 @ 5:36 pm

Josh mcdaniels!?!?!?!?!?

Comment by panthers15090 12.08.10 @ 6:05 pm

Please no more former NFL coaches who underachieved, were fired or were forced to resign.
With all due respect to DW.

That eliminates, John Fox, Marvin Lewis & Josh McDaniels for starters. Although the first two haven’t been fired……YET!

Comment by carolinapanther 12.08.10 @ 6:58 pm

I overheard two people at the gym today whining about the dismissal of Wannstedt. One of them was very vocal about it and said Pitt made a terrible mistake.
The other said that Pitt fans live in a fantasy world of expecting every Pitt team to be the next coming of 1980.

It should be obvious that Wannstedt was never a good head coach at any level. He left Chicago and quit early in the 2004 season as Dolphins head coach, when that team was falling apart.

Pitt does not need a coach with head coaching experience at the college level, but Pitt does need a coach who can, well, coach. Coaching would involve teaching players not to make so many dumb mistakes, to hold onto the ball, not to use the “swinging gate”, etc.

Teryl Austin sounds good to me, not because he was at Pitt, but because of what he has done as a coach.

Comment by Penguins Fan 12.09.10 @ 5:34 pm

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