The Pitt Panthers (6-5, 4-2) suffered yet another disappointing loss in the Dave Wannstedt era, and questions about Wannstedt’s job security are coming full circle after a 35-10 loss to West Virginia (8-3, 4-2) at home on Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers had four turnovers in the game as the Mountaineers turned Pitt turnovers into points to take a 14-7 lead at the half.
West Virginia then pulled away in the third quarter, Geno Smith threw two touchdowns passes to Tavon Austin in the third quarter, en route to a 35-10 victory.
It was an embarrassing loss for the Panthers, who had a clear path to the conference title and an automatic BCS bowl bid, likely the Fiesta Bowl.
This was a crucial win for West Virginia, especially head coach Bill Stewart who is on the hot seat in Morgantown.
“Heck of a win for West Virginia, the players, the coaches, the staff and for me, ” Stewart said in his post-game comments. “To come on the road and win in the Big East and in the Backyard Brawl is really special and to win in a pretty good manor is even more pleasant. That’s a tribute to our players and staff. I’m really happy, ” Stewart said.
In an expected watered down Big East, Pitt entered the 2010 season as the clear favorite in the Conference, ranked No. 15 to open the season with expectations that Pitt had the potential to be a top-10 team.
Wannstedt’s club has gone on to lose 5 games through 11 contests with losses to Utah, Miami, Notre Dame, Connecticut and WVU.
Most disappointing for Pitt fans is the team losing close games against “regarded” inferior teams and not even being competitive against top competition on their schedule, suffering blowout losses to Miami and WVU, 31-3 and 35-10 respectively.
“Everybody understood, approached and prepared, I thought, as well as we could have prepared for this football game, Wannstedt said this afternoon.”
Wannstedt is now 41-31 in his career at Pitt and the program has taking a major step back after posted 9-4 and 10-3 seasons in back to back years.
In his 6th year at the helm, Wannstedt is at the point where his job should be fully evaluated at the end of the season as to whether he’s the right guy for the program moving forward.
You can make a strong argument that Wannstedt shouldn’t be back next season and that a change is needed but bank on him being back in 2011 as Pitt’s football coach.
Wannstedt is signed through the 2014 season, however, even before the 2010 campaign there were some doubts that Wanndstedt would finish his contract as football coach but not for any reasons that he would be fired or pushed out.
This is a Pitt administration that are strong supporters of Wannstedt and there have already been measures taking from both sides where Wannstedt is expected to step in to become the next athletic director of the program, when he feels it’s time to step away from coaching.
Maybe there becomes a push from administration to get Wannstedt off the sidelines earlier than first believed, but the chances are very slim it’s after this season.
As for West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart who came into today’s game with serious doubts regarding future, he helped himself tremendously with the victory but regardless of today’s win and how Stewart finishes, it shouldn’t sway WVU officials from examining West Virginia’s football program with Stewart moving forward.