Football: Pitt confirms Wannstedt’s resignation

By Alex Oltmanns

Pitt officials just confirmed that head football coach Dave Wannstedt resigned today after six… Updated: 6:23 p.m.Pitt head football coach Dave Wannstedt resigned today after six seasons with the team.

“I appreciate the opportunity from Mark Nordenberg and this university to come here and win games and most importantly try and make a difference in these young men’s lives,” Wannstedt said in an emotional press conference Tuesday night as the team gathered around him.

Wannstedt compiled a 42-31 record over that time and last year led the Panthers to their first 10-win season since 1981.

But with high expectations entering this season, the team underachieved, struggling on and off the field, finishing with a 7-5 record in a year where they were expected to go to a BCS Bowl game and saw four players arrested on various charges.

Wannstedt, who is under contract through 2014, will stay with the school as a special assistant to the athletic director. Details of his contract were not announced.

“I am very pleased that coach Wannstedt will be staying with us and working with me and the athletic department,” athletic director Steve Pederson said in the press conference. “He’s the ultimate Pitt man and the consummate gentleman.”

“It made the most sense to do it now,” Pederson said. “If you’re going to do it at the end of the season, then you need to do it so you can get after the next phase of the program: new coach, recruiting and the kinds of things you need to have done.”

Pitt will immediately begin to search for a replacement for Wannstedt, who led the Panthers to three straight bowl appearances including last year’s win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and Pederson said they won’t rule out any candidates, including ones already on the coaching staff.

“We’ll find the right coach, and we’ll find somebody to pick up where Dave left off and help us achieve a championship level here,” Pederson said.

He said Wannstedt will have the option to coach the team in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Kentucky in Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 8.

To see coverage of tonight’s press conference, visit our Genac Attack blog.