Wannstedt shaves more than just roster

By Adam Littman

Editor’s note: This story appeared as part of The Pitt News 2009 April Fools’ edition. It is a… Editor’s note: This story appeared as part of The Pitt News 2009 April Fools’ edition. It is a work of fiction produced solely for entertainment value.

While the start of any season is filled with optimism, Pitt football fans let out a shriek of horror this past weekend even before the first wobbly, underthrown ball of the season could be picked off.

The terror came when they caught a glimpse of coach Dave Wannstedt.

The fifth-year coach appeared at Pitt’s spring practice at the UPMC Sports Complex in the South Side on Saturday with his signature mustache completely shaved off. It has long been Wannstedt’s physical trademark, even earning him, or better yet, his facial hair, the nickname ‘The Wannstache.’

‘Well, I thought it was time,’ said Wannstedt after Saturday’s practice. ‘It was definitely the best mustache in the Big East and without a doubt the best mustache we’d see all year, not to sound conceited.’

Throughout the practice, which contained the team’s first full-contact offense vs. defense scrimmages, Wannstedt was visibly uncomfortable. Every few minutes, he would rub his newly naked upper lip with his index finger and give a perplexing look into the distance.

‘I forgot what a breeze feels like up there,’ said Wannstedt. ‘My lips aren’t too used to it. They’re very dry today, and I think I’m going to need some lip balm.’

When he first walked onto the field, many players roared. The sight of the mustache-less coach elicited boisterous ‘oh’s from numerous members of the team and eventually, a round of applause.

‘Man, at first I didn’t even recognize him,’ said sophomore defensive end Greg Romeus. ‘It’s, it’s … it’s just weird.’

Wannstedt didn’t really want to discuss the reason for cutting off the upper-lip coating that has earned him spots on various ‘Best Mustaches’ lists, insisting it was ‘no big deal.’ While the coach didn’t think of the alterations as noteworthy, his players didn’t agree.

While dropping back during a drill, quarterback Pat Bostick caught a quick look of Wannstedt for the first time presumably ever without a mustache, as the offense was on a separate field when the coach made his first appearance of the day.

He did a double-take just as defensive end Jabaal Sheard broke through the offensive line and knocked the unsuspecting quarterback to the ground.

‘He should’ve warned us,’ said Bostick. ‘It’s dangerous just to show up one day like that without any notice. Jabaal could’ve really done some damage to me.’

Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin also took his mind off the play after seeing his coach’s new look. After beating the defensive back covering him on a fly pattern down the sideline, Baldwin dropped a perfectly placed throw from Bostick just as he ran by Wannstedt.

‘Pat placed it right in my hands,’ said Baldwin. ‘I dropped it because I saw coach and was shocked, maybe even a little frightened.’

But Pitt players aren’t the only ones taking Wannstedt’s shaving hard. Fans of the team, who rallied behind the mustache as a sort of team mascot, are also disappointed.

‘This is possibly the worst thing to happen to the 0program since, I can’t even remember,’ said Peter Venkman, a Pitt sophomore majoring in parapsychology. ‘I guess the worst thing since the Sun Bowl or taming the Panther head, but still, this is not cool at all.’

Since word spread of the shaving, a ‘Save the ‘Stache’ group on Facebook popped up and at print time had more than 1 million members.

‘In all honesty, I’m not sure if I’m going to buy season tickets this year,’ said Venkman, who added he attended every home game during his freshman year and even traveled to Connecticut to watch the team play. ‘I’m devastated.’

Never ones to pass up such an opportunity, many Oakland street vendors are already selling shirts commemorating the event, including a navy blue shirt with a picture of a mustache that reads ‘Never Forget.’

Not just students and entrepreneurs are turning the shaving into an event. Although not yet confirmed, rumors are floating around that one night this week, the Cathedral of Learning will put on the victory lights, but instead of their normally illustrious gold color, they’ll be black in honor of the University’s loss.

‘I just don’t get what the big deal is,’ said Wannstedt. ‘It’s just a mustache.’

While it might only be the toupee for a bald top lip to Wannstedt, it appears the mustache meant a lot more to others.

‘I was mesmerized by it. Had I known he was going to shave, I might’ve reconsidered signing here,’ joked first-year offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., who later in practice wore a pair of novelty glasses that comes with an attached nose and mustache, which he apparently carries around with him.

‘The way I look at, we’re in the midst of our best week of spring practice since I’ve been here,’ said Wannstedt. ‘To spend time talking about the mustache is ridiculous. If anything, it means I might have to reconsider dressing up for a 19th consecutive Halloween as Groucho Marx.’