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December 6, 2011

Please Dave, No More Talking

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Wannstedt — Chas @ 4:08 pm

Well Pitt is heading to Birmingham and the big discussion point is Dave Wannstedt. Wait. Is this 2011 or 2010?

Now let’s get this out of the way. I like Dave Wannstedt. I know he cares deeply about Pitt. I know he desperately wanted this to work. He wanted to win and win big at his alma mater. In his home turf. He wanted to be coaching Pitt for a good 10 to 15 more years. It hurt him terribly to be fired by Pitt. Especially since he never saw it coming.

I also know he cares deeply about the players that he recruited on this Pitt team. Not Jerry Sandusky or Bernie Fine deeply, but he cared.

There comes a point, though, where he has to either stop talking or be nice. What he did yesterday was more pointed, but similar to the stuff he has been doing since leaving Pittsburgh to coach linebackers for the Buffalo Bills. I’ve tried to avoid it because it should be in the past, and I had hoped that someone would tell him that he is making himself look bad. Clearly that isn’t happening.

 

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August 8, 2011

Training Camp Starts Today

Filed under: Football,Graham,Practice,Wannstedt — Reed @ 10:03 am

In anticipation of the Panther’s summer training camp Paul Zeise of the Post Gazette has written a long article about the team and its expectations for the season.  No real earthshaking news here but he touches on the cost of the new program direction which for a school like PITT is a big step forward:

University administrators hope Graham can deliver the kind of exciting football he is selling because they have made a huge financial investment in him. Graham is making about $2 million per year and was given a pool of $2 million for his staff. The school has made him the focal point of its marketing campaign, going so far as to create a glitzy website called highoctanefootball.com.

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January 4, 2011

So Wannstedt in Final Presser

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Wannstedt — Chas @ 12:56 pm

I was going to leave it alone, but the more I thought about it the more annoyed I got. Dave Wannstedt held what should have been his final press conference as a direct representative of Pitt. My initial impulse was that he let his own wounded pride and anger at AD Pederson overrule all else. Disappointingly, after 24 hours, I’m still at the same spot.

This is one of those times when just about everyone saw something the same way. It’s not some Rashomon event.

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January 3, 2011

The Pitt News sports blog had a fine liveblog of Dave Wannstedt’s press conference to announce “The Decision.” Er, no, that’s been done.

Here are some of the highlights:

“I am a Pitt guy. I am a Pittsburgh guy. I always have been and I always will be,” he said, his voice rising. “There have been a lot of coaches before me and there will be a lot of coaches here after me, but I can assure you . . .none of them will love Pitt as much as I have.”

I believe that, but it sure looks like his own personal pride came before Pitt in the past couple weeks.

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Wannstedt Won’t Do Birmingham

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Wannstedt — Chas @ 11:12 am

Not that anyone seems to have remembered or cared, but Pitt still has a bowl game in less than a week.

We will find out officially sometime around noon, but it now appears that Dave Wannstedt won’t coach a final game.

Pitt defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will be named interim head coach for the Panthers and coach them in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., against the University of Kentucky, according to a source.

Former Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt informed his staff this morning that he will not coach in the game, the source said. Wannstedt was forced to resign from his job Dec. 7, but remained with the university as an assistant to Athletic Director Steve Pederson.

Wannstedt scheduled a noon news conference today to discuss the coaching situation. The souce said Wannstedt has not informed Pederson or Chancellor Mark Nordenberg of his intentions as of this morning.

And by “coaching situation,” he means his own and who is coaching on the 8th. Not the programs.  He is not planning to answer any questions about the mess that is finding his replacement.

December 28, 2010

I’m rather cynical about most things. Especially when it comes to sports. Yet, I have to admit to being taken aback by the way Coach Wannstedt is acting.

Then Pitt’s administration tried to do the right thing by giving him a few days to decide if he wanted to coach the bowl game. As of today, he still has not given Steve Pederson his final decision. And the times I have talked to him over the past two weeks – the last time being Thursday – he said he was “going to work with the team, get them prepared, run practices and then wait to see where he is at and how he feels next week” before he makes his decision. Now, that is what he has said and that is what he is saying on the record.

Unfortunately, he has also told a number of people around him he is not likely to coach in the game and that he doesn’t want to go through a week of news conferences and luncheons and all of that “play happy” stuff. If it was just about the game, he would coach but all the other stuff he’s not sure he wants to go through.

I do know this – if he doesn’t coach, it will be defensive coordinator Phil Bennett who will be in charge and run things through the bowl. And while Hafley is gone and at least one more is likely to be gone shortly, for the most part the current assistants will coach through the bowl game.

I get that he is probably a bit bitter about the whole thing. I am sure he still feels blindsinded and never saw the firing coming. It’s seems obvious that he feels betrayed by AD Pederson, and this kind of putting off the decision is as much to get back at Pederson as anything else.

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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.

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Wannstedt’s End?

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire,Wannstedt — Chas @ 2:30 pm

I don’t know. It’s either prelude to a shake-up or Paul Zeise has the nice scoop.

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson will meet with football coach Dave Wannstedt over the next few days to discuss his future, multiple sources have said.

As usual, it is on his blog, where he gets a little more blunt.

Here is what I can tell you – based on a lot of conversatons I’ve had in the past 24 hours, it is does not look good for Wannstedt and it seems like the University is set to go in the proverbial new direction.

Now, I’m not saying it is a “done deal”, but it clearly looks bleak for Dave at this point as I haven’t talked to anyone who has even said “he will be back with certain conditions.”

He then lists the reasons you would expect for the fact that Pitt’s administration apparently willing to pull the plug. Missing from the list is “support from wealthy booster(s) willing to help pay the buyout.”

To be honest, that is the one thing that has me hesitant to believe it will happen. There does appear to be a snowball going that way, but I am not quite there.

The other thing, is that the meeting has no set date. Over the next few days is rather vague. I also wonder if Pitt and AD Pederson would make this happen before Saturday. Do they really want to pre-empt/upstage the big Tennessee-Pitt game at the Con?

So if the meeting gets pushed until next week, then I might be further inclined to believe that Head Coach Wannstedt is done

Guess we are all in for waiting and speculating. Whee.

December 4, 2010

Some Acknowledgment of Pressure

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Wannstedt — Chas @ 10:08 am

As much as there might be concern about how there will be any fans in the stands next year, there is still at least one more game for 2010. Contrary to Coach Wannstedt’s protestations that he has no concerns about his job security or that there is anything wrong with his program, besides disappointing losses because of correctable mistakes, the truth may be a little more nebulous.

It has become clear that coach Dave Wannstedt and his staff need a good showing today and a strong finish to the season in order to ease some of the concerns of the university administration about the direction of the program.

And even if the Panthers win, Wannstedt likely will have to make some staff changes in the offseason and have a rebound season next year that shows the program is making progress.

Staff shake-ups are usually the interim/final step the year before a Coach loses his job — when things don’t change the following year. This story marks the first time there is something close to reporting there is some actual discontent. As opposed to columnists opining that Coach Wannstedt has to go.

It may be vague and less than many are hoping to read, but it is something. That and growing cynicism at every turn.

“Our preparation has been good,” Wannstedt said. “I think because we played West Virginia on Friday and had an extra day to come in here and turn the page and move on. The guys have responded good and know we have a chance still to do some good things by winning this game.”

The Panthers have said all the right things this week about bouncing back, but they said the right things last week, too, and then got hammered by the Mountaineers.

Yeah. Cynicism. The way to go to shield off from more disappointment.

November 29, 2010

I don’t see any way to avoid continuing the Dave Wannstedt pile-on.

For all the talk of wanting/hoping Wannstedt is fired/resigns/politely bumped upstairs to a fake position; I don’t see it. I expect that Wannstedt will return. Even before the latest loss, DC Bennett was going to be gone. For his own reputation, he needed to leave, now he also becomes a fall guy.

What is scary is that I don’t see many positional coaches tossed over this year. OC Frank Cignetti, Asst. HC Greg Gattuso, OL Coach Tony Wise, RB Coach David Walker, TE Coach Brian Angelichio should be safe in view any combination of their unit’s performance, recent performance and reputation of the coach.

The others should be under fire. But will they?

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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…

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November 16, 2010

After this many years following Coach Wannstedt at Pitt, I probably am not the only one to know what he says in most situations. From last week:

The thing that probably has me most pissed is that Wannstedt will not devote any introspection as to why his teams have blown every national appearance, Why his teams play so poorly with extra preparation. Instead, it will be because of the turnovers that Pitt lost. Nothing else.

Monday presser:

When you look back on it and give up a touchdown on the kickoff, which in my mind is like a turnover, then have two other turnovers — an interception and a fumble — it’s very difficult to overcome that and beat anybody. It’s my job, our job as coaches, to keep working with the kids to correct those mistakes, and I know we’re capable of doing it. Leading up to that game we played three games in a row where we were focused and, for the most part, protected the football. So we know we’re capable of doing it. We just have to get back to coaching them up and having an emphasis on what wins games. We must fix the mistakes that need to be corrected.

Actually, he missed an interception. Sunseri threw two. And even a ‘Cuse beat writer makes fun of Wannstedt and the mantra of turnovers being the reason.

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November 15, 2010

Now What With Football

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Wannstedt — Chas @ 1:34 pm

Looks like we are all still working through a fair amount of angst, frustration, disappointment, and plenty of other feelings. I really don’t have a good answer right now.

Anson of Cardiac Hill lists five reasons why Coach Wannstedt won’t be fired. Smizik plays the “are you really sure that the next guy would be better” fear. I really don’t think — even if in a worst case scenario Pitt loses all three remaining games — Wannstedt loses his job, so this is all just a bit speculative.

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November 12, 2010

Four hours of sleep, a lot of coffee, back at work. Yeah, I’m still feeling very bitter. Actually I think the bitterness is keeping me more awake than the coffee.

As was pointed out in the comments previously, Pitt looked like the overall superior team in size, strength and talent. Check that. Pitt looked like the team with the superior players. UConn was the superior team. They were better coached. Better prepared. Just better last night.

After Pitt had gone up 21-13 with 13 seconds left in the 3d quarter, I wrote the following in the notes I was taking on the game:

This where superior size, talent, and conditioning come in to play against UConn — again. UConn played better than Pitt for a while, but Pitt has simply worn them down.

Then Moore broke off a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD. A total momentum changer. The sort of thing (like Cinci last year) that rejuvenated the UConn side. They still had hope. They played like it, and Pitt went back on their heels.

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October 14, 2010

Wannstedt Can’t Lose

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Opponent(s),Wannstedt — Chas @ 1:19 pm

Or at least he best not do so to Syracuse.

Coach Dave Wannstedt — in only a slight oversimplification — takes a general view towards football that you line your 11 best against the other team’s 11 best. That ultimately it is the talent on the field and the team that makes the fewest mistakes that determines the winner. It’s why Wannstedt views the spread as a gimmick offense. Schemes, styles, and everything else matter little when it comes to just playing basic football. Something Coach Wannstedt seems to acknowledge with this game.

For that reason, I have to agree (and I’m not particularly thrilled about this) with Smizik’s post that the Syracuse game is a “can’t lose”  game for Pitt and Wannstedt (not a “must win,” though). Aside from being a road game, Pitt should be the team expected to win.

Across nearly every position, Pitt has superior talent than Syracuse. Both teams play similar styles. Presumably, that is how Pitt is preparing for this game. The fact that Syracuse is even slightly favored to win this game speaks to the issue of the coaching and motivation of this Pitt team.

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