He’s Back! DW Waxes Poetic

Dave Wannstedt (DW) gave an in-depth interview to Allan Saunders of the Pittsburgh Sports Now blog on Tuesday.  It was a good look at what an experienced head coach thinks and feels about the profession and about Pitt football in general.

For the newcomers to Pitt fandom Dave Wannstedt was a Pittsburgh born and bred Pitt football player who had starred at local Baldwin HS.  He played in the early 1970s and was one of the offensive lineman who opened holes for Tony Dorsett to run through. He was a good ballplayer and worked hard to receive his Masters Degree from Pitt before he went onto a NFL career.


After his playing career ended  he entered the staff coaching ranks, eventually grabbed onto Jimmy Johnson shirttails and rode them into head coaching jobs with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears.  After those gigs finished Pitt hired him in 2004 to replace the fired Walt Harris and the rest is history (of sorts).

He coached Pitt for six years starting in 2005. Under his command we had our  best three year run in 30 years when the team’s 2009-2010 years were consistent winning seasons.  His high point at Pitt was a 10 win season in 2009.

Yet conference championships eluded him and he left the university under negative circumstances (on everyone’s part) due to acrimony between him and the Pitt administration. That split was  based on off the field issues and his inability to win the games that we needed to win to have championships.

He was a coach beloved by his players and fans yet just couldn’t really make it work at his alma mater.

Dave Wannstedt is out as Pitt football coach following a disappointing season in which the Panthers were big favorites to win a weak Big East Conference, only to finish 7-5 and qualify for a minor bowl.

Wannstedt resigned under pressure Tuesday, three days after Pitt (7-5) salvaged its regular season by beating Cincinnati 28-10. The former Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins coach, highly respected by Pitt’s administration, will remain at the school as a special assistant to athletic director Steve Pederson.

That ‘resigned under pressure’ is a slant Pitt put out for the public. Wannstedt was, for all intents and purposes, fired but for him to get his full contractual benefits Pitt allowed him to stay attached for a few months. That was six years ago, a lifetime in the world of college ball, so it is interesting to read what is the longest interview I have seen him do since leaving Pitt.

There are a few things that jump out to me here in this interview.  I have to list his comments about ‘winning’ right up front because I spit out my coffee every time I read it.  Here is what DW said:

In fact, about the only cautionary thing Wannstedt said was that it was possible the Panthers could win too soon. Because of experienced returning players like James Connor, Peterman and Ejuan Price, the Panthers might contend a little bit before they’re ready to.

“I think you just have to be careful that you don’t win too soon,” he said. “If you win too soon, all the sudden, everyone expects more the next year.

Do I need to print that again so you are sure you saw what you think you saw?  Yes, he actually said “…everyone expects more the next year“.  Shhhh, nobody show that quote to Narduzzi.

The hilarious and superbly ironic thing about his saying that is the fact that he inherited a BCS bowl team with a solid nucleus of good players, including a great QB in Tyler Palko… then didn’t have a winning season or get to a bowl game until his  fourth year:

The Panthers didn’t have a winning record during Wannstedt’s first three seasons, then failed to meet expectations even while going 9-4 in 2008 and 10-3 in 2009. Last-minute losses to West Virginia and Cincinnati to end the 2009 regular season cost Pitt the Big East title and a BCS berth after the Panthers moved into the AP Top 10.

losing seasons

You readers will come to understand I don’t hold Dave Wannstedt in highest opinions but even I couldn’t have written a scenario where he’d make an ass out of himself as he did with that singular quote.

Hell, I’m getting that inked right next to the “We have to run faster” tattoo I have across my lower back. Faster tattoo

I’ve already mailed out a hand- written thank-you note to Dave for that one… and really, you can’t make stuff like that up.

But aside from that unfortunate phrasing DW also makes some very good points about the team as he sees it and he expounds on why he thinks things will quickly progress under Pat Narduzzi. He especially likes the defensive mindset of Narduzzi which makes sense because that was his also forte’ when he was here.

Back in those good winning years of 2008, ’09 and ’10 Wannstedt’s defense held the opponents to 21.5 ppg, 19.8 ppg then 19.0 ppg respectively which, in 2010, was good for 15th nationally. He went out and got hard nosed and tough against the run defensive lineman and smart linebackers.  Which is exactly what we expect to see from Narduzzi over the next few years – with the addition of fast defensive backs who Narduzzi churned out to the NFL when he was at MSU.

DW also says this about the offense:

With arrows pointing up for the Panthers, the next step toward building on last season’s 8-5 effort is a Coastal Division title. Wannstedt thinks that’s possible, because of the solid foundation on defense and the play of senior quarterback Nate Peterman.

“I think their defense is going to be solid, but the biggest thing I think they have going forward to next year is the play of the quarterback,” Wannstedt said. “I think that Peterman is playing as good as any quarterback since I was there, I know that.

This kid makes a lot of plays, he gets them out of a lot of bad situations. He’s got the arm, he makes good decisions and at times, he’s been athletic enough to make a play with his feet

You all know I feel Peterman played well this year and I just today made a beer bet with a reader that Peterman will beat Palko’s productive year of 2004. Here is the wager:

I’ll go on record right now and say Peterman will have the most productive year at QB Pitt has had since 2004 with Tyler Palko when Palko threw for 3067 yards with 27 TDs and 7 INTs.

Bet you a beer right now Peterman tops those yardage #s and TD #s.

And I mean every word of it.  Wannstedt isn’t the only one in the know who really likes Peterman – his offensive coordinator does also. We are going to score a bunch of points this season my friends and it won’t all be on the ground.

There are some things that DW really knows what he is talking about because he held those strengths himself.  In addition to his thoughts about the D and QB above he also believes Narduzzi is the right recruiter for us and is doing it the right way :

One of the biggest factors in Narduzzi’s recruiting success has been his energetic personality and ability to connect with kids in a way that others have failed to do. Wannstedt thinks the key to Narduzzi’s success is that his amped-up style isn’t a front. He recruits the way he always is, and that passion is attractive.

“Kids are smart nowadays,” Wannstedt said. “They can tell if a head coach’s personality is not to be overly enthusiastic, and then all the sudden he is when he’s in the home recruiting them. I think players see that. High school coaches see through that. In Pat’s situation, it’s genuine. I think he has an enthusiasm about everything he does.”

DW echoes what I have heard every fan say since the day Narduzzi was hired – that  there isn’t a phony bone in our current HC’s body.  635853384257200756-smg-20151121-mje-al8-20We have seen that energy crackle out since Narduzzi hit the tarmac running when his plane from East Lansing touched down.

Dave Wannstedt is an interesting cat.  He is as genuine as it gets and tries to please everyone (too much when it came to his player though I strongly feel). But you can tell he loves Pitt and that is a good thing.  Pitt’s program, struggling and directionless as it has been since Wannstedt left, needs the well-known alumni players and coaches to come back and be part of the program’s way forward (and up hopefully).

Not only does that show their interest in the team and the players but it also shows the kids on the roster that one can have great success if they stick with the program, go to class and study their craft.  DW had a saying when he was coaching on the Southside that stated “You Stay, You Play” and I liked that very much.

He wasn’t the type of callous coach who discarded marginal players just because they weren’t on the two deep by the time they were juniors as so many of the ‘bigger’ programs do.  DW and Pitt had an unwritten policy that if the players did what was required by the university’s rules and regulations they would have their fours years needed to get a Pitt degree.  I think that is a wonderful thing to have in place and DW held to that.

It is no coincidence that everyone likes it when Wannstedt stays in touch with the university and does interviews like this one – and let’s be honest he’s mellowed a lot since the year 2011 when he took every opportunity to degrade other Pitt people on the airwaves.

I’ll say again that I have had very strong opinions about Dave Wannstedt’s tenure as the Pitt HC.  Yet I also have to be honest and recognize that his time here was, just like in real life for all of us, peppered with both positive and negative decisions and actions. The parting of the ways between he and Pitt was, to put it simply, a show of egos and idiocy on both sides and reflected very poorly on the principals involved, the athletic department and the school as a whole.

Blame had to be shared on both sides of that mess because both sides deserved it. Afterward Wannstedt took his anger and hurt feelings on the road for all to see, almost wearing it like a badge of honor during his times as a NFL TV commentator. That was painful for us fans to watch no matter what opinions you held about the firing itself.

He  looks to be over that now  and good for him for doing so. In this interview, with his praising the program and explaining why  he sees as a bright future for Pitt football, is nice to read and we fans hang on every one of his words.  He knows Pitt and he knows football so we enjoy what he has to say – doubly so because it is presented in a way that shows us not only his football intelligence but his love for The University of Pittsburgh and its team.

57 thoughts on “He’s Back! DW Waxes Poetic

  1. It would have been great if he could have keep his teams clean and knew how to game coach and had a long tenure here. But alas….


  2. Funny, as I was back home in the Burg a few weeks back visiting family in Baldwin and it made me think of DW!
    I was hoping the relationship between him and the school could be repaired because it would be the right thing to do! Very happy this has happened. Also, say what you want about DW, but the fact is he is one of the best defensive minds in the country. Duzz would be wise to receive input from DW. That’s a win/win scenario! H2P


  3. Why do Pitt fans overblown the off-the-field issues from that lame SI article from 2010? Wannstedt got rid of the bad seeds after the kids screwed up. Some kids did Pitt a favor since they stunk as players and opened scholarships up. What else was Dave supposed to do after kicking them out? The funny part was the article dinged Pitt for bad stuff the kids did while in high school. It was your typical offseason article where space needed filled so the writer looked at only preseason top 25 teams and the problems each had.

    Wannstedt inherited a BCS team that was not even BCS worthy as the 2004 team never had to face Miami or VTech and won a three-team tiebreaker with an 8-3 record. The team Dave inherited was so slooooow due to Harris’ average recruiting. The lines on both sides of the ball were lacking depth across the board. The O-line did have Spencer and McGlynn and then two other starters went down on the same play versus Ohio. Yes, Pitt lost that game due to me ordering a Palko jersey and it arrived to my place that Friday then he went out and threw TWO pick-six scores in the 16-10 loss. The D-line talent and depth was so bad that Gus Mustakas was in the two deep and had YET to turn 18 years old when Pitt kicked off versus Notre Dame.

    If Wannstedt should be ripped for anything it was not just his QB recruiting, but overall recruiting. Not landing QB, Thaddeus Lewis, in his 2006 class turned out to be a killer as the kid would have been a four-year starter and done damage with his arm and legs. BCS trips would have been a given with him under center with the weapons around him.

    Not too long ago I went back and checked the two deep for the 2009 Car Care Bowl was shocked after five recruiting classes, four of which were full classes, the shaky depth on what should have been a loaded team. Wannstedt’s bread and butter, the O and D lines, were strong in the starting lineups, but not with the backups. Lindsey and Chaz were solid D-linemen, but were young and were the top two bench guys due to others flaming out. Anyone remember DE Bernardo Nunez from Jersey? Didn’t think so because he was a bust.

    Now some spots lacked depth because Wannstedt either kicked kids off the team (Duncan and Tamarcus Porter) or the because the kids flunked out of school — Maurice Williams and Tommie Campbell — two kids I’d say looked to have promising futures as Panthers. Imagine that. Even before the SI article Dave showed a penchant for disciplining kids.

    I’m glad Pitt has Narduzzi now, but I wished Wannstedt was never fired and stayed on board thru 2014 to give him a nice round tenure of 10 years. I really felt bad for those kids whose one college football career was ruined by not having the coach they committed to and then some having to play for those two hacks who came after Wannstedt. No kid should have had to endure three coaches in four years and it’s easy to say “tough luck kid” when it’s not your college career. Imagine Aaron Donald playing next to two D-I caliber defensive ends rather than what he had to because of the constant coaching turnover.

    Twenty-seven wins in Wannstedt’s final 39 games is what I’ll remember and him having to do it on a recruiting budget with coins that came from Nordy’s butt when he squeezed, and a wormy AD who was no damn good for anything in his second tenure with the school.


  4. Left – I’ll strongly disagree about the impact that Sports illustrated article had on the reputation of the program and what the university’s administration felt about it and the circumstances of it being published.

    Fans may underestimate that but I can tell you from first hand experience that the university’s top administration did not by any means. They took it as serious a hell and we all saw the outcome and ramifications of that even to today, albeit in a more positive way now.

    Are you inferring that because of those issues you listed about 2004’s 8-5 team that there were valid excuses for DW not being able to have a winning season for three years? If so then again, we differ.

    Even Paul Chryst, who I think inherited a lower level quality team than DW did, produced a winning season in his second year. Pat Narduzzi did it in his first year. Sorry – but to go three straight years before breaking .500 is a poor thing.


  5. Some more good news… from the Pitt Media Dept:

    July 13, 2016

    PITTSBURGH – Pitt running back James Conner, offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty and linebacker Mike Caprara are among 88 players from across the nation to be named to the watch list for the venerated Wuerffel Trophy, which annually honors college football’s top community servant.

    Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel of Florida, this award is presented each year to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

    All products of western Pennsylvania, Conner, Bisnowaty and Caprara made Pitt the only program in the country with three watch-list selections for this year’s Wuerffel Trophy. Each member of the trio has gone above and beyond in his respective community service output since arriving at the University of Pittsburgh – all while excelling on the football field for the Panthers.

    Conner, the 2014 ACC Player of the Year, has been extremely active in his charitable efforts prior to and since being cleared of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May. The running back was recently the guest of honor at a charity dinner organized by Dr. Stanley Marks that raised over $400,000 for cancer research, and Conner regularly visits and communicates with children going through similar adversities to what he faced.

    Even prior to his own cancer diagnosis, Conner was named to the prestigious 2015 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team as a result of his volunteer contributions with the Mel Blount Youth Home, humanitarian organization World Vision, the National Kidney Foundation as well as Children’s Hospital, where he has handed out his game-used gloves as gifts to young patients.

    Bisnowaty, a product of nearby Fox Chapel, Pa., has consistently been one of Pitt’s most prolific student-athlete participants in community service over the past several years. The 2015 first team All-ACC selection and man responsible for protecting the blind side of Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman engages with numerous local organizations, including Children’s Hospital, Beth Shalom Congregation and the Pittsburgh Public Schools. He has also worked with Read Across America and Christmas at Pitt while serving as an ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

    And Woodland Hills, Pa., native Caprara, one of Pitt’s most improved players last season after tallying 49 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, takes an equally impressive pride in his community service, which has featured four trips to Haiti with Pitt’s Coalition of Christian Outreach to teach, interact with and provide assistance to local children in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

    The three Pitt candidacies for the 2016 Wuerffel Trophy also marked one-fifth of the ACC’s total representation; the ACC led all conferences with 15 players appearing on the watch list.

    Voting for the Wuerffel Trophy is performed by a National Selection Committee that includes college football television and print media, industry notables, former head coaches and prior Wuerffel Trophy recipients.


  6. The 2004 Pitt team was EASILY the most overrated team in Pitt history, as evidenced by their 35-7 drubbing in the Fiesta Bowl by Utah. They won in a watered-down 7 team conference where they were awarded a bowl berth in a 4 team tiebreaker. FWIW, Wanny’s last year ended in a 3-team tiebreaker, only this time Pitt didn’t get the bowl berth.

    Back to 04, .. as previously mentioned, 4 teams tied for first and 2 teams tied for last with only 1 win each. These 2 teams finished behind UConn which was in its 1st year of D1 football, and which incidentally beat BE Champ Pitt that year in the infamous ‘slidegate’ game. 04 BE Champ Pitt also was taken into overtime that year versus D2 Furman.

    Harris left the line so depleted that Wanny’s last recruit that season, 2-star Gus Mutsakas started on DL as a natural freshman, as did 2-star CJ Davis on the DL …. these star ratings are in accordance with what Reed posted in his blog a few days ago.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the 06 team, which finished 6-6, was better than the 04 team. Unlike 04, the BE in 06 was one of the better conferences in the NCAA and was the only conference that year that had 3 teams finish in the top 12.

    Wanny lost a lot of close critical games which IMO was due to his conservative NFL approach. Wanny and the current coach are the only two HCs with a defensive background that Pitt has had in recent history …. only HCPN has college mentality, and is more aggressive on defense. I think this will bode well


    1. wbb my only true friend – do you think that the team itself was so bad that it took four years to get a winning record? Sorry but that is on the coach, not the players. Especially since in two of those years he had his own FR and SO kids playing. To say it was on the players is to be the worst Wannstedt apologist ever. Ever, I say!!

      Hell, – that 2006 team that goes 6-1 in the first 7 games then tanks completely and utterly to end up 6-6 with no bowl isn’t to be blamed on the the players at all. That, again, rests squarely on the shoulders of the HC and his coaching staff.

      It was so obvious that DW lost the confidence, energy and optimism of the players in the latter half of the season it was very hard to watch.

      But the bottom line in this conversation is two-fold; 1) How can we not look at three non-winning seasons and not put the blame on DW and most importantly 2) how in the world could DW say such a ridiculous thing in public about “winning too soon” at Pitt – which BTW he had no experience with at all?

      Oh and wbb… I get no points for expressing some positive opinions about DW? (which by the way I have held for some time).


    2. I agree wwb. The ’06 team started out 6-1 and then lost 5 in a row, three to ranked teams and two of those losses were to Top 10 teams. We also had that heart-breaking one point loss to Uconn 45-46.
      Pitt actually was the 14th highest scoring team in NCAA that year at almost 32 ppg.


  7. Wannstedt went 6-6 in his second season, just like Chryst except Paul had an opportunity to go to a bowl game with amount of games in 2013 compared to 2006. That doesn’t mean Pitt would have won its bowl game had it went to one in 2006. If anyone remembers the injuries in 2006 and back then any time a kid got hurt a true freshman was the replacement due to the sub par recruiting prior to Dave’s arrival.

    The 2007 season was the most frustrating under Wannstedt for me because Pitt was ready to take off and the injury to Stull derailed those plans. There was no backup QB to take the reigns and Pitt lost close games to MSU, Navy, Louisville and Rutgers. Some players could have stepped up and made plays to win those games and didn’t, but Bostick and Smith were not ready to play. I say to this day had Flacco stuck around Pitt goes 11-2 in 2007.


  8. Wanny is a character, his issue was with Stevie P, I’d pay to see them in an UFC event at the Pete.

    My money would be on Wanny, by the way what ever happened to Stevie P?


  9. Reed–A few weeks back I suggested getting in touch with Wanny, but you blew me off suggesting I call him and stating Pitt wants to distance itself from him. Now it seems your talking out of both sides of your mouth. Pittsburgh Sports Now didn’t think the idea was so stupid.


    1. Tiger Paul – I know you haven’t been reading my blogs a lot but there is a very big difference between Pittsburgh Sports Now (and the other professional media blogs and outlets) and what I do on The Pitt POV now and before that on The Pitt Blather. But here is some background info…

      First off, I think you need to read that article again. It wasn’t about Pitt itself at all nor does it mention any contact between DW and Pitt; it didn’t say he was on campus or on the Southside or has talked with Narduzzi or anything. For all we know he’s not been in contact with Pitt or vice versa, at all. Who knows?

      But I’ll bet a dollar that was a phone interview from Florida…

      It also didn’t say that DW’s had any conversations with anyone associated with Pitt. All that article was, was his being asked basic questions and then his stating opinions about Pitt football – exactly the same thing that I and others do on Pitt-related blogs every single day.

      As to the blog itself Pittsburgh Sports Now is a business site and pays it’s professional writers – there are four of them on there and at least three of them are professionally tied into the local media – Mike Vukovcan and Benz are associated, professionally, with KDKA.

      Basically that is a KDKA umbrella website and you can be sure they aren’t going to piss anyone off who pays their salaries or who give them access to the team and facilities. They have a ‘sponsor’ and also are asking for donations and as such most probably have budgets and a completely different mission statement than I have on here.

      And none of that is a bad thing at all – it is certainly one of the first places I check with my morning coffee and this last article with DW is a very fine piece of work and informative as hell.

      However, I am an essayist on Pitt football and now Pitt basketball as such. My articles are my own thoughts and opinions and therefore I don’t have anyone I have to please or more important have to worry, at all, about displeasing. As a matter of fact the more I get people angry at me more windows of information seem to open up. Strange huh…

      But I am an strict amateur and as such, even with the full media credentials I carry, will not pay for interviews, will not travel on someone else’s dime, do not get paid to write certain things, etc…. I’m my own man and it will always be that way.

      The absolute last thing I want anyone to think of this website is that it is in any a ‘news; outlet – which is impossible because I get almost all of my subjects from other news sources.

      I have absolutely no reason to censor anything I write and believe me that can’t be said of anyone in the mainstream media.

      But back to Wanny… I said that you should call him because the last thing I would care to do is have a conversation with him. Been there done that. That is just my druthers. I’m not impressed with him and don’t think that I’d enjoy hearing anything he had to say that he hasn’t already said to others 15 times already… except for the ‘winning too soon’ bit we just read… that was original and fun!

      Last note – I don’t remember ever saying that Pitt was distancing itself from Wannstedt at this point six years after the fact , but they sure did for the 4 years or so after he left. Time changes things… but as I said above this article doesn’t allude to anything about DW and Pitt at all.


  10. Always loved Wannstedt’s enthusiasm for Pitt. Too bad he couldn’t win the damn BE.

    Heard Walt Harris on the radio. He still participates in fundraisers with his former players and visits the practice facility. Appreciates his time at Pitt.

    Wonder when Todd Graham and Mike Haywood will do the same?


  11. DW trying to win the good graces of the new administration. He reminds me of the kid your parents made you play with because he didn’t have any friends, then you couldn’t get rid of him. I hope the University keeps their distance from this emotional wreck. However, I would be willing to bet a cheap plastic bottle of vodka that we will see him in some half-baked halftime program (i.e. Remember the Muffler Bowl) next season. DW will grab the mic and go on a 43 minute rant about football, pierogies and why he doesn’t believe in alpha particle decay of Plutonium. .


  12. Walt was a blessing when he came in 1997 and did some impressive recruiting in the late 90s. It would have been also nice had he won more and stayed longer because his passing offense was tough for opponents to stop. Recruiting issues and losing winnable games was what did Walt in.

    The 2000-03 teams were the ones that should have shined and elevated the program but didn’t get it done. In 2000, losses to mediocre Syracuse and North Carolina prevented what should have been a 9-2 team. Then, the most underrated disaster in Pitt football history occurred when Walt went to the no-huddle spread offense. What in the world was he thinking? The players hated it and the results were disastrous. The only team who was better than Pitt on that schedule was Miami yet the team lost to USF, mediocre ND, BC and Syracuse. The Cuse was the only other team who may have beaten Pitt, but that was another 9-2, possible 10-1 team. That was an experienced team with a solid quarterback in Priestly and a good enough O-line and defense. When Harris switched back to his regular offense Pitt cruised and dismantled VTech, 38-7.

    The 2002 team lost to mediocre Texas A&M, at ND, which had no offense to speak of, talented Miami and at home to an OK WVU team. Again, by this time Pitt should have been rolling but a lack of speed and not having better lines with depth was starting to do in Walt, we just didn’t know it yet.

    Then perhaps the most disappointing Pitt team ever with all its hype that offseason lost five games in 2003 despite terrific skill talent. The O-line and D-line were mush pit by this time in Harris’ tenure and his friendship with Tom Freeman was his biggest downfall. It was given those final three seasons when Pitt’s offense faced a good, quick defense the quarterback was going to get sacked eight or nine times, and it happened versus Texas A&M, ND (twice) and Miami. The ND loss in 2003 was disgusting.

    It is good to see Walt at practices as anyone who coaches eight seasons at Pitt should be welcomed back.


    1. I was in school during those years; my memory of those teams is pretty much in line with yours. Especially the no-huddle fiasco. That was a talented team, but Walt just couldn’t leave well enough alone. He could have gradually implemented such a system: a series here, a drive there, etc, to see if it worked, but nope, he went whole hog, stuck with it when it clearly wasn’t working, and really blew what should have been a good season.


  13. I believe Walt in ’03 was victimized by unreal expectations as Wanny was in ’10. The 02 team, which was probably the best in the past 3 decades, had a great bowl game … and based on this, pre-season polls had Pitt in the Top 10. But the fact is that even though Larry Fitz and Rod R returned, many key players from that 02 defense graduated.

    Same thing in 010. The 09 team was the 2nd best team in 3 decades and of course missed a BCS Bowl by a point .. and had even spent 2 or 3 weeks in the Top 10. Thus, the 010 team was picked to win the BE … despite the fact that it had the least amount of returning starters (11) than anyone in the BE … while UConn and WVU and 17 and 18 starters returning respectively.

    If you follow CFB, and CBB for that matter, pre-season polls are partly based on what the school did the previous season


  14. I saw that “don’t win too soon comment” also and just shook my head. I have no great animosity to the time DW was here, I don’t think he was as bad as some make it out (was a good recruiter in some areas), but wasn’t as good as some want to make him out either. Lot’s of game day head scratchers. He is a good ambassador for Pitt when he is over his hurt feelings from what happened, let’s face it not having the former AD here now is a big reason he more vocal in his support for Pitt now. We can all agree that situation was not handled well at all, but par for the course for the previous athletic leadership. Good times are here again! (we hope)


  15. Like Wanny’s 010 team, Walt’s 03 team was victimized by unrealistic pre-season expectations. The 02 team was probably the best Pitt team in last 3 decades and returned Larry Ftitz and Rod R … but many players from that stalwart defense, which held the All-american OSU RB to about 20 yards in the bowl, had graduated. Thus, the pre-season polls of Pitt being a Top 10 team may not have been valid

    Same thing for the 09 team which was probably the 2nd best team in last 3 decades, had the least amount of returning starters (11) than anyone in the BE … while WVU and UConn had 18 and 17 starters returning. Yet, Pitt was the favorite in the BE.

    So many pre-season polls in both CFB and CBB are based on the previous year’s team


  16. As a side, I always read about Wannstedt’s head scratching game-day coaching. Pitt has had head-scratching decisions made by its coaches every year since 1982. Dave is no worse than Gottfried, Walt or Chryst. I thought Paul was worse in some ways.


  17. Without reading all the negative and positive verbage here and as a huge Wanny fan I only have one comment. Until someone else recruits NFL players of the year, perinnial all pros and outstanding student athletes to the extent Wanny did, I will be taking his advice. To date it is year seven without any such players. That being said, let us hope that changes quickly and both Wanny and Narduzzi hope it will. Great programs need great players. When Wanny coached the University paid 75% a year less for coaching salaries than they do now just a few years ago. Great assustants coaches don’t come for pennies and Pitt finally realized that m, far too late for a great coach like Dave.
    Too bad that the moron from Nebraska ruined the Cornhusker program and Plastic face was brought back here to continue his destruction of Pitt football. Worse yet, Nerdy went right along with it.
    Pitt is a University and as such promotes further education after graduation and so did coach Wannstedt. In football we call that the NFL. Don’t try and tell the multitude of Wanny players still populating the NFL that Wanny didn’t know football. I hear the laughter now.


  18. LefCoastPanther, I have been trying to make that point forever … yet only Wanny has the stigma

    Consider — Walt had the slide play and the swinging gate;
    – Fraud who said that he was a rambler-gambler had his QB as the team’s leading punter for about half of the year (pooch kicks on the plus side of the field; he also pulled a hamstring in calling a TO early in the 4th quarter (both things Wanny was criticized for
    – and of course Chryst’s late 2nd quarter decisions just in his 1st year alone (vs Cincy, Louisivlle and UConn) are still head-scratchers


  19. The fact is that you can criticize his game-day decisions, his conservative strategy and play-calling all you want ….. but he still had the best 3 year run that Pitt has had since the early 80s. when he was axed.

    That is the bottom line for coaches!


  20. Why was it Wannstedt recruited Florida early in his tenure and plucked guys like Steve Dell, Rashard Duncan (maybe a Walt recruit but signed on when Wanny took over), Collins, Romeus, Sheard, Sticky Ricky Gary, Tamarcus Porter, Duncan then all of a sudden the state was being ignored? Was the recruiting budget slashed by Nordy? Nordy sure seemed like he wanted to win but on the definite cheap.

    I appreciate Nordy for taking Pitt from a 3-win team in the 1990s to a 7-win program in the 2000s, but trying to be cheap is no way to run a football program.


  21. How many conference championships did Wannstedt win in a shit league?

    Let’s not act like he was a great head coach. Great head coaches win their conference.

    I love the guy but at best he was slightly above average.


  22. Notrocket,
    You make a good point above, but for many of us ’13-9′ was greater than any conference championship!!!


  23. Remember, not only did Wanny have one of the lowest budgets in the BE (not the ACC or SEC) if not the lowest … and that includes coaching salaries and recruiting … he also ran into a situation where 4 schools had the best 3-year runs in the HISTORY of their schools: WVU (05-07), LVille (06-08), Rutgers (06-08) and Cincy (07-09) .. Look it up.

    FWIW, you can also make the same claim for UConn (08-010) and USF (06-08) … but that wouldn’t be valid since they both have had a short history.

    I’m not arguing that Wanny was a great HC by an measure … I just have major issues with bullshit stigmas. It’s amazing how some players or coaches are deemed in pne manner yet stats and results show otherwise.


  24. 13-9 was awesome and I don’t buy his game decision making was bad either. If you watch a lot of college football, he was no worse than any other college coach.

    Every call a coach makes is questioned one way or the other by fans and media, justified or not.

    Maybe he can give Narduzzi and Conklin some tips on stopping the triple option.


  25. If the NCAA investigation of Ole Miss generated buzz at the SEC media day event, will the NCAA investigation of North Carolina be a big deal at the ACC media event?


  26. Yea we were a BCS team in Walt’s last year. What was it, we won a 4 way tie or something for 1st place.
    All kinds of unlikely things happened for Pitt to get that bid. And then we went out and got blown out.
    That was the team Wanny inherited. Not some juggernaut. lol


  27. Wanny’s big problem was he wasn’t a very good judge of Quarterback talent. Either in the pro’s (Jay Fiedler, lol) or in college (his best friend’s son, name does not need mentioned). And he appears to still have that problem. Some things never change.


  28. Emel – no one said it was a juggernaut – just the facts; it was a BCS team with a very good QB.

    I’m getting the distinct feeling reading these comments that some fans on here are actually thinking that it was OK for Wannstedt to inherit that team… a same “eight win” team that the same fans are crowing about Narduzzi having last year and, then two years of his own recruits and still not have a winning season for three straight years.

    How about this though:

    In 2005 he loses to Ohio in the 2nd game of the year. That alone would have given him a 6-5 season.

    in 2006 he jumps out to a 6-1 record then loses the team and ends up with five straight losses. One of which was to a shitty UCONN team – that again would have given him a 7-5 season.

    Two years in which we blew games to inferior opponents that if we would have won would have started off his HC at Pitt on a whole different foot.

    We know that losing ‘easy’ games isn’t just DW – it seems like a Pitt tradition almost, but each one of those would have put a different flavor on his beginning at Pitt.

    He turned Palko into a lesser QB due to his not believing college football QBs should actually throw the ball downfield Look at the difference between Paklo’s ’04 year under Harris and then his ’05 year under DW.

    2004 230 409 56.2 3067 7.5 7.9 24 7 135.2
    2005 193 341 56.6 2392 7.0 6.8 17 9 126.7

    He tried to turn Palko into a game manager just like he did with every one of his QBs and it didn’t work.

    There’s a defense of DW on here for those first three mediocre years that is kind of weird… and If that is the case there’s no talking about it any longer.


  29. Walt was the real hero, having taken a team that got thrashed by OSUcheats 72-0 and turning them into a bowl team the following year (or at least his first year).
    Wanny was a disgrace. Aside from being an idiot (and yet somehow boasting not only a BS degree, but an MA as well), called recruits and told them not to come after he was shit-canned. Having been booted from Chciago and Miami, you’d think he was used to getting canned with money still coming in.
    So, Pitt is still on the hook for his remaining salary and he is calling recruits and telling them not to come?
    Should have been grounds for Smiley to Find a good lawyer and never pay Dave another cent.


  30. Random thoughts from a random mind: Wan was a good coach but frankly with the talent he brought in he underachieved His players reflected his thugishness which ranged from berating waitresses in public, to football off the field incidents, to calling recruits and telling them not to come after he was fired, to the stunt he allowed (or encouraged) his players to pull when he was canned. I realize I am in the minority but he was a decent coach but a classless act. None of this overlooks that the AD was even worse.

    In regards to Gene Coliers column today in the PG wondering about why the Three Stooges at PSU haven’t be prosecuted yet, as I posted here (well The Blather) in May, AG Kane sent an interoffice e-mail out that they would not be prosecuted only to have a court order that the depositions of Joe Pas earlier ignoring child rape reported be released two days after her e-ail. Now they have been released. For those who follow politics ie poli=many Ticks=bloodsuckers, she won election by promising an investigation of how then AG Tom Corbett handled the investigation which JoePaphiles like Franco and Lambretto loved and the nitters voted that disgrace in. Millions of taxpayer money uncovered nothing . HINT GENE – Ask for the Kane May e-mail under FOIA. Do some reporting.


    Someday I will address how the legal incompetence of the Deputy AG investigating the case and former Supreme Court Justice and PSU legal counsel Cynthia Baldwin together f****ked up the most serious part of the case.


    ps Sorry to go off track on the thread but I just read Collier and Pitt to award me a BA and MA in political science. Duquesne a law degree and 30 plus years prosecuting among others -political corruption and child molestation and grand jury work – its in my blood. Later
    Now back to the thread, rant over.


  31. Reed, funny how you left off Palko’s senior year in 06 when he had by far his best QB rating

    220 322 68.3 2871 8.9 9.2 25 9 163.2

    your anti-Wanny bias is incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wbb – I was talking about his 2004 to 2005 seasons.

      I do think eff rating is important but that isn’t what a coach should look at when game planning personnel.

      DW had RBs LSH, Kirkley and Jennings going into that 2005 season – not a really good yardage producer among them and he still insisted on running the football as much as he did.

      The bottom line is that in 2005 DW did a Todd Graham as he took an excellent passing QB and tried to fit him into a NFL-shaped hole. Had he realized exactly what he had at that position Palko could have torn up the field and we would have scored many more points…but that didn’t happen.

      That is what I was talking about. Yes, Palko did a better in ’06 but we were discussing those two earlier season. But I am firmly convinced that had DW been able to actually recognize Palko’s talents for what they were he would have won more games for sure.

      Again – discussing the three non-winning seasons.


  32. I liked Wanny, he was a pretty good coach and a better recruiter and above all, he was a great Pitt man through and through.


  33. Palko lost the Ohio game with two pick 6s and didn’t step up versus a mediocre Nebraska team.

    The Pitt defense allowed ONE touchdown in those eight quarters. Cavanaugh never seems to get dissed but he was pretty awful that first season adjusting to the college game, too.


  34. Reed, you inferred in your article that Wanny inherited some great team. Which is absolutely not the truth.
    And you cited them being a BCS team the previous year as some sort of proof. Which it was not, as you didn’t point out that the BigEast had to send somebody and Pitt miraculously won out in a very unlikely 4 way tie for 1st place. I believe BC(who was in the Top 20) only had to beat lowly Syracuse to get the bid, but BC getting the bid would have looked terrible for the BigEast since they were off to the ACC the next year.


  35. Love POV and enjoy reading about the team from an historical perspective. The Harris/Wanny analysis brought back a lot of memories.

    Towards this end , can you share your views on why Pitt had such a drop off after Sherrill? The decline was pretty dramatic and relatively fast. Remember a lot of criticism of Foge, but hard to believe that it was only coaching.


  36. Lots of water over the dam in these comments.I’ ll only add one. My brother a Pitt alum and big fan was close to some trustees and was at the Wanstadt intro to all the insiders When he came to Pitt in “05”.Wanny made a big speech about the up coming year and blew expectations way to high. My brother never forgot that meeting and never spoke a kind word about Dave after our drubbing by ND in the 05 opener and Pitts’ inability to do what Dave said they would. Possibly others reacted the same. Hence Wannie’s comment about raising expectations too fast.


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