Pitt Preview: The Coaches

When Dave Wannstedt took over the reins as head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers he vowed to focus on building relations with the highschool coaches of Westwern Pennsylvania.

In the process of wowing the regions prep tutors, he's developed strong relations while building a rapport with area players that Walt Harris could never attain. Building a fence around the fertile recruiting grounds of Western Pennsylvania is one vital aspect on a long list of what he feels the Panthers need to achieve past success.The results are starting to mount favorably for the 54 year old native son and former Panther standout. Not only did he save the class of 2005, retaining commitments from the old regime, Wannstedt hit the road early and often in 2005, obtaining verbals from twelve student athletes for the class of 2006, in which eleven hail from the state of Pennsylvania. A tireless worker, Wannstedt will not stand pat and become complacent. He believes the best way to sell your program is to sell yourself. It worked when assembling his first coaching staff at Pitt, which including himself, totals four former Panther players. The present staff is geared for success, just ask Mr. Wannstedt.

The Coaches

Head Coach: Dave Wannstedt
Coaching Bio: Named Pitt's head coach by Athletic Director Jeff Long on December 23, 2004. In his 30-year coaching career, Wannstedt has been a part of 10 bowl teams, six NFL playoff teams, two college national champions (Pittsburgh in 1976 and Miami in 1987) and one Super Bowl champion (Dallas in 1992). Prior to Dallas, Wannstedt spent three years as the defensive coordinator of the Miami Hurricanes. From 1986-88, Miami went 34-2 (.944) and won the 1987 national championship with a 12-0 record. During his tenure, the Hurricanes held opponents to just 2.2 yards per rush, gave up only 10.9 points per game and averaged 48 sacks per year. Wannstedt's defenses produced 11 NFL draft selections, including five taken in the initial two rounds. Wannstedt's other collegiate stops included Southern California (1983-85) and Oklahoma State (1979-82). As defensive line coach at USC, he helped the Trojans capture the 1984 Pacific-10 championship and a subsequent 20-17 win over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Wannstedt was also the defensive line coach at Oklahoma State his initial three years before elevating to defensive coordinator in 1982. Wannstedt rejoined the college ranks after spending the last 16 years in the NFL. Eleven of those years were as a head coach, including six with the Chicago Bears (1993-98) and five with the Miami Dolphins (2000-04). Wannstedt's 14 years of collegiate coaching experience includes 11 winning campaigns and a 112-48-4 record. Wannstedt is the third winningest coach in the Chicago Bears franchise's history with 41 victories. In 1994 he was named the NFC Coach of the Year by UPI and Football News. During Wannstedt's head coaching tenure with the Dolphins, Miami was one of just three NFL teams from 2000-03 to record nine or more victories each year. The Dolphins' 41-23 mark during that span tied for the club's best four-year record in nearly 20 seasons. Miami captured the AFC East Division championship in 2000 with an 11-5 record. The Dolphins' defense that season ranked third in the NFL in points allowed (a franchise-low 226 points) and led the league with 28 interceptions.

Offensive Coordianator / QuarterBacks: Matt Cavanaugh
Coaching Bio: Cavanaugh began his coaching career at Pitt, where he served as tight ends coach for John Majors in 1993. He then moved to the professional ranks, serving as quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals from 1994-95 and San Francisco in 1996. From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was offensive coordinator for Chicago, serving under Wannstedt. He most recently was the offensive coordinator at Baltimore (1999-2004), where during the Ravens' Super Bowl season he orchestrated a rushing attack that produced a franchise-record 2,199 yards. Cavanaugh earned three Super Bowl rings, including two as a player (with the San Francisco 49ers in 1984 and the New York Giants in 1990) and one as a coach Baltimore Ravens in 2001.

Defensive Cooridinator / Secondary: Paul Rhoads
Coaching Bio: Rhoads has been on the Panther staff since 2000 under formwer head coach, Wakt Harris. Rhoads joined the Panthers after five seasons (1995-99) at Iowa State, where he was the secondary coach for his last four years after coaching the inside linebackers in 1995. Prior to Iowa State, Rhoads spent three years at Pacific from 1992-94, serving as the defensive backs coach and, in his final season, coordinator of the Tigers' pass defense. Additionally, Rhoads was a graduate assistant at Ohio State (1991) and Utah State (1989-90), working with the secondary at both schools.

Asst. Head Coach / Def. Tackles: Bob Junko
Coaching Bio: Junko enters his thirteenth year as a Panther assistant. He initially coached at Pittsburgh from 1982-85, serving as defensive coordinator under then head coach Foge Fazio. He returned in 1997 as defensive tackles coach. He began his coaching as a graduate assistant at Tulsa in 1968 where he remained until taking the defensive coordinatior's and assistant HC at position at Texas Christian. Coached at Northwestern from 1986-1988 then moving on to Akron from 1988- 1994. He then went to Kent State as the defensive coordinator from 1995-1996 until he landed on Walt Harris' staff in 1997.

Defensive Ends / Special Teams: Charlie Partridge
Coaching Bio: Partridge enters his third season as a Panther assistant coach. Partridge served four seasons (1998-2001) at Iowa State in administrative and coaching roles. He was a defensive graduate assistant in 1998-99, working with the outside linebackers. Following the 1999 season he earned a full-time appointment as the program's director of football operations. In 2002 Partridge was hired by Eastern Illinois University as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

Linebackers: Curtis Bray
Coaching Bio: Bray rejoined the Panthers staff for the 2000 season after serving as defensive ends coach at Villanova the prior three years (1997-99). Before coaching at Villanova, Bray was the defensive line coach at Western Kentucky (1995-96) and the defensive coordinator at Duquesne (1993-94). While at Duquesne, he also coached the linebackers and handled the special teams.

Offensive Line: Paul Dunn
Coaching Bio: Dunn returns to his alma mater with 22 years of experience coaching offensive lines on the collegiate level. He most recently served at Kentucky (2003-04) and Kansas State (1998-2002). Dunn's additional coaching stops include Vanderbilt (1996-97), Cincinnati (1994-95), Maine (1990-93) and Rutgers (1989). His first full-time assignment came at Edinboro (Pa.) University, where he coached from 1986-88. Dunn served graduate assistantships at Pittsburgh (1983) and Penn State (1984-85).

Tight Ends / Recruiting Coordinator: Greg Gattuso
Coaching Bio: Gattuso spent 12 years building neighboring Duquesne University into one of the elite I-AA football programs in the country. The winningest coach in school history, the Dukes went 97-32 (.752) under his direction, won eight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) titles, made five bowl appearances and captured the 2003 consensus Mid-Major Division I-AA national championship. Gattuso joined Duquesne as an assistant coach in 1992 before taking over the head coaching post the following year. He previously served as head coach at his high school alma mater, Seton-LaSalle, from 1989-91. Taking over a team that went 6-34 over the four seasons prior to his arrival, Gattuso led the Rebels to a 28-10-1 mark (.731), including three WPIAL playoff berths, a WPIAL championship and Parkway Conference title.

Receivers: Aubrey Hill
Coaching Bio: Hill served as a Florida graduate assistant from 1996-98. Aubrey joined the Panthers after working at NCAA I-AA Elon (N.C.) University as receivers coach last year. He previously was the receivers coach at Duke from 1999-2003 and additionally served in a pair of NFL coaching internships.

Running Backs: David Walker
Coaching Bio: Following a year as an assistant coach at Miami's Carol City High School in 1994-95, Walker rejoined his alma mater, Syracuse as runningbacks coach from 1995-2004 where he's credited with developing some of the best backfields in the Big East year in and year out.

Strength & Conditioning: Mike Kent
Coaching Bio: Kent joins the Panthers from the University of Louisville, where he was a key contributor to the Cardinals' 36-15 record over a four year period and Conference USA championships in 2000 and 2001. Prior to Louisville, the 43-year-old Kent served at Eastern Kentucky University from 1999-2000. Kent's coaching career began at NC State, where he was a graduate assistant for two years (1985-86 and '86-87) working with the defensive line and assisting with the strength program. He additionally was an assistant defensive line coach and headed up strength and conditioning for football at West Virginia's Shepherd College (1987-88). From 1988-90, Kent was an assistant strength coach at East Carolina.

Assistant Athletic Director / Football Operations: Chris LaSala
Coaching Bio: Enters his ninth year as director of football operations at the University of Pittsburgh. LaSala was named an assistant athletic director in 2000. Previously he served three years as the director of football operations at Boston College, where he handled all the administrative duties for the football program, including overseeing the travel arrangements and organizing BC's youth camps. Before Boston College, LaSala spent three years at Temple as recruiting coordinator and ultimately was elevated to assistant athletic director. He initially joined Temple as a graduate assistant in 1988 and then returned to the Owls' football staff in 1990 as the administrative assistant.

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