First off I must mention somethings before I get into the meat and potatoes of this. I was going to post last night about some different things, but 2 tests, a presentation, plus the flu virus really take it out of someone. Fear not though, as I am the only college student without friday classes to be up this early and posting on a chilly friday morning. I didn't get a chance to read this site yesterday, but this morning I was browsing some comments made on Jason Jones' posts. Of those comments, one really stood out to me. Someone was wondering aloud how we could continue to support Wannstedt and not be calling for his head?
We'll Sir or Ma'am, this is my response. A few short years ago, I remember reading about how Dave Wannstedt was the leading candidate for the coaching position at Pitt. I was not thrilled at all. I only knew about the failures he had at Miami and Chicago. A short time later, the ESPN 2 ticker relieved a great fear of mine. It said; "Dave Wannstedt removes his name from consideration for Pittsburgh's head coach". I was with my dad when we saw that and he said it best, that news is the best thing I've read about Pitt in a while.
Once more news came out, we all became aware that Mustache Jones was trying to get more money for his assistants. We ponied up, and Dave became the new head coach. After reading the Pitt spin on things as well as Wanny defenders, I became a kool-aid drinker. I blamed Wanny's failures at Chicago for him having too much control in choosing player personnel, I defended him in Miami because he had a winning record and a few 10 game win seasons. I said that he would still be their coach had Ricky Williams not decided to live the "green" life.
I was wrong. My dad always told me to be realistic about this, but I was not. I expected him to take a BCS (not bcs caliber) team to greater heights. I was confident that a 10-2 record was on the horizon for the 2005 season. I was wrong, Uncle Charlie Weis took that all away from us and was the first step down a long and dark path. Obviously we know where we are today.
So, if you want to know why we still "support" Wanny, here is why. Wannstedt is a great representative of Pitt always speaking highly of us. Outside of coaching there is not any way possible that he sheds a negative light on our fine institution. That is my cliche response.
This is the real reason. We do not have an AD. We will not have an AD for a while. I know 2 people on the search committee for the new AD and they have assured me that it will be a long drawn out process. This is the most disturbing thing. One of them said that the key fundamental to whom they choose will be their ability to seek and acquire donations. Don't get me wrong, that is a HUGE part of what the AD must do to be successful. However, I believe they are undervaluing the necessity of NCAA and sports knowledge. Jeff Long was very good at getting donations and was one of the best "people persons" I have ever met. He did however lack in some areas. For example, when the Wannstedt era began, Jeff Long should have said, I will give your assistants the extra money, but we must have proven coaches. That is why I can understand hiring Dunn and Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh was an offensive coordinator in the nfl (albeit a terrible one) and was said to have great teaching ability for young quarterbacks. Sounds good to me. Paul Dunn helped turn around many offensive lines in his day, so you can't argue with that. David Walker and Aubrey Hill were brought in showing signs of success and to this day, I believe they are still the right people for this job.
The defense is where the problems start. Wannstedt should have seen how terrible Paul Rhoads was. He should have cleared house and brought in people with sound schemes for the college level. He did not, and we were stuck with an inept defense from day 1. Following the poor play, we all heard how Walt left the cupboard empty and we needed to rebuild and reload by having solid recruiting classes. Not once did this staff try to take the players they have and build a system around it. They had their style, recruited guys to play their style, but left all of the current team and more importantly, upper classmen in a system where they were not built to play.
This is why I am not calling for Wanny's head. We don't have an AD, so we can't fire him. We have always had a history of giving coaches plenty (maybe too much) time to build their program. The first step will be making Wannstedt change assistants. Rhoads and Dunn will be gone for sure. Matt Cavanaugh is a close friend of Dave's, so unless Matt can get an NFL job, we really could expect to see him back. If Cavanaugh is not retained, I truly believe it will be because of pressure from the donors/alumni who have scared Nordenberg to the point where he truly feels it could effect the university academically.
The other reason I am not calling for his head is because I feel if we can get coordinators who can adjust to what they have, create solid game plans and make good in game adjustments, this team could win. Army knew how to get the most out of what they had. John Beiline down at Hoopie U figured out his team was awful so he installed a gimmick offense that allowed them to win. We, right now, do not have the coaches in place to do that.
We need to create a Paterno type situations. I'm sorry if that offends you loyal Pitt fans, but hear me out. Let Wannstedt remain the figurehead. Let him recruit and talk up Pitt in the best of fashions. Let him remain so that we have consistency at the highest level of the coaching tree. BUT! Let the coordinators design the offense and defense. Remain hands off in the play calling. You hire the coaches because you trust them, so bring in the right ones and let them have full reign.
Imagine this for example. We somehow steal two great/hungry assistants from smaller schools who want to prove themselves in a major conference. We let them design the playbook AROUND THE PLAYERS WE HAVE and not the system Wannstedt thinks we should run. Imagine the assistants from Tulsa, Boise St., and TCU working with this team.
The last reason, outside of the ones showing why Wannstedt WILL BE BACK in 2008, is look at this projected starting lineup for 08.
Qb - Bostick (we are Bostick supporters and think he will beat out Stull for the job)
Rb - McCoy
Fb - Collins
Wr - Kinder and Turner
Te - Nasty Nate Byham
OT - Lucas Nix and Jason Pinkston
OG - Chris Jacobsen and Joe Thomas
C - CJ Davis
On defense we are looking pretty solid too if we would design the right defense
DE: Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus
DT: Rashad Duncan/John Malecki/Tommie Duhart/Mick Williams
OLB: Shane Murray/Nate Nix/Scott McKillop
ILB: Dorin Dickerson
CB: Ricky Gary and Aaron Berry/Jovanni Chappell/Sherod Murdock
S: Elijah Fields and Dom Dicicco.
I like what I see on paper with this team. Sometimes I like what I see on the field with these players. With the right coordinators in place, and Wannstedt letting them have full control, we can win enough games to get a solid bowl bid next year. However, if Wannstedt doesn't do what I have just said, then we will continue to suck.
It's all about the money and the fact that our university isn't ready to eat the last 2 years of a very expensive contract mixed in with Wannstedt not wanting to resign means, we're not supporting him, we're just expecting him to be back regardless of what happens the rest of the way.
~ The One and Only ~