Wannstedt Can Only Blame Himself

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When Dave Wannstedt was fired,er “resigned”, on December 7, 2010, his farewell was short and tearful. In his conference he thanked the university for the opportunity that they had given him and mentioned the enjoyment he took from working with kids and teaching them to be men. As touching as it may have seemed to some, it’s what he didn’t mention that was the primary reason for his dismissal. Winning big games.

It isn’t that Wannstedt never won, he  led the Panthers to 26 wins over the past three years. Following a 10-3 2009 campaign, Wannstedt was riding high, being praised for bringing Pitt to  national discussion. Then came 2010.

Could it be said that the Panthers were overrated coming into the season? Probably. But when the losses started to pile up early against Utah, Miami, and Notre Dame, the “Stache” began to come under scrutiny. His game day gaffes were becoming hard to forgive as the year went on:  mysterious timeouts, obvious lack of player preparation and most notably the big game chokes. After the 2-3 start, Pitt in November somehow found itself at 5-3 with a two game lead in a Big East conference, which was said by many to be the weakest BCS conference ever.  Wannstedt and the Panthers somehow managed to squander that lead by losing to Connecticut and getting blown out of the water by West Virginia.

The loss to WVU may have been the nail in Wannstedt’s coffin. The Panthers were in the driver’s seat of the Big East with a win almost certainly locking them  into a conference championship. The team proceeded to get crushed 35-10. The failure of 2010 was reminiscent of the choke of 2009 boiled to a head(for  those who don’t remember, Pitt was beating Cincinnati 31-10 in 2009 with the winner taking the conference title, Cincy won 45-44). The anger, sadness, and frustration directed at Wannstedt, the leader of the Pitt football program led up to the resignation of  Dave Wannstedt on December 7, 2010.

While the forcing out of Dave Wannstedt may seem somewhat unfair because of his recruiting abilities and likeable personality, he controlled his own fate. Had he beat Cincinnati in 2009, UConn or West Virginia in 2010, he would have his job. He built the Panther program to a point where he could contend for titles, he just couldn’t win any. For a man who came to Pitt boasting about National Championships and “Glory Years”, he has to be viewed as a failure by his own standards. Wannstedt is a good ambassador for a university, a good man, yet a terrible coach.