As Pitt plummets to what seems likely to be a third consecutive season without a bowl game, the rumor mill has begun to circulate about the future of coach Dave Wannstedt. The Panthers are 13-16 in Wannstedt's three seasons and 2-4 this season, including home losses to Connecticut and Navy in which the Panthers gave up a combined total of 82 points.
Wannstedt, however, insists he has not felt any pressure from the school's administration or key boosters. In fact, he met with chancellor Mark Nordenberg last week about the future and he did again Tuesday before the team's walk-through practice for the Navy game.
Wannstedt said he understands the frustrations of the fans, but he said that the team's talented base of underclassmen and the rapid development of freshman quarterback Pat Bostick and tailback LeSean McCoy are reasons for optimism. He expects the team to take a big step forward next year and he expects to be the Panthers' coach for at least two more seasons and beyond.
He is in the third year of a five-year contract and, although he has talked with the chancellor about a contract extension, he said it is not his current top priority. Instead, that top priority is getting the Panthers on the winning track.
"I'm going to be here, I have had very good conversations with the chancellor," an upbeat Wannstedt said yesterday.
"We've spoken about the direction of the program and what we are trying to accomplish, and he's been very supportive. We are doing things the right way, but ultimately, we have to start winning some games, and nobody understands that better than I do. I know if we can get a few more good recruiting classes here, we'll get to where we need to be."
Wannstedt also addressed the issue of him becoming the athletic director and said he has not spoken to the chancellor about it because he has been focused on football.