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.”
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.