Panthers Looking To Bowl Game

The Panthers are headed for a Fiesta Bowl date with Utah on Jan. 1 ... and coach Walt Harris is headed to Stanford to fill the job of fired coach Buddy Teevens.

"He's accepted and will be here tomorrow," Stanford spokesman Gary Migdol told the Associated Press on Sunday. "He's in Pittsburgh today."

Harris is expected to coach Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.

Harris battled for a contract extension throughout the season, but never received one. Before the season, Pittsburgh administrators informed Harris that he needed to lead the Panthers to a BCS game to save his job, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

He hurdled the ultimatum, but still elected to walk.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, former Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt and former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie were all mentioned as candidates for the Pittsburgh job.

Pittsburgh (8-3) won six of its last seven games and beat South Florida, 43-14, on Dec. 4 to secure the Big East's automatic berth.

The Panthers opened the season 2-2 and needed overtime to get past Division I-AA representative Furman. But as quarterback Tyler Palko progressed, so did the team. The junior southpaw has passed for 2,816 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was named to the All-Big East second team, along with wide receiver Greg Lee.
  • QB Tyler Palko possesses the creativity and blue-collar work ethic to carry Pittsburgh. The junior has passed for 2,816 yards and 23 touchdowns in 11 starts. And when Palko is forced from the pocket, he can still break down a defense with the shovel pass he calls "The Favre Flip."

  • Pittsburgh's ground game has struggled throughout the season, ranking sixth in the Big East at 105.1 yards per game. If the Panthers are to run with the Utes, the backfield must deliver.

  • "In my impression, he's done some really impressive things, and hopefully he can continue them at Stanford. I thought he was a coach's coach. The things he was able to accomplish at Pittsburgh speak for themselves." -- Stanford LB Jon Alston to the Associated Press on Walt Harris, who is leaving Pittsburgh to coach at Stanford.

  • Pittsburgh (8-3) vs. Utah, Fiesta Bowl, Tempe, Ariz., Jan. 1 -- The Panthers are headed to their fifth straight bowl under Walt Harris, but haven't played on New Year's Day or later since 1983. Interesting matchup in that both teams' head coach took other jobs after the regular season.

  • QB Tyler Palko -- The junior passed for a career-high 411 yards and five touchdowns in a Dec. 4 win over South Florida. He has grown rapidly week to week and has completed 208 of 369 attempts for 2,816 yards and 23 scores, with only seven interceptions.

    PK Josh Cummings -- The All-Big East selection has connected on 18 of 25 field goals and ranks ninth nationally with 1.64 made per game.

  • Going Pro: OT Rob Petitti -- The 6-6, 330-pound senior is widely considered Pittsburgh's top player. Because he is a lineman and the Panthers' run attack has left much to be desired this season, Petitti hasn't drawn much attention for postseason honors. But pro scouts are aware of his potential.

  • Injury Report: No significant injuries or moves.

Panther More Top Stories