After an extensive one-week evaluation process, Wannstedt determined that several staff changes were in order that he announced Tuesday afternoon.
Linebackers coach Curtis Bray, a 1992 Pitt grad, and strength and conditioning coach Mike Kent will "leave the Panthers staff to pursue other opportunities.'' Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, who also has coached the secondary since 2000, will change his positional focus to linebackers. Rhoads, however, will continue to coordinate Pitt's defense.
"In addition to hiring a secondary coach, I anticipate we will be making additional appointments on our strength and conditioning staff,'' Wannstedt said. "I plan on interviewing strength coach candidates this weekend and expect to have someone in place by Christmas. This will enable our offseason program to begin at full-speed when our players return (in) January.''
Wannstedt noted that decisions can't be made on perception, only on what's real, but he also warned that perception can become reality. Clearly, the Panthers fell short defensively against all the good, and even some average, teams on their schedule. Primarily, their run defense was susceptible to giving up big plays and lots of yardage.
"I'm very confident in where we're short and when we failed, why we failed, and we've got to get a lot better in areas where we did make some strides,'' Wannstedt said. "I think our conference is just so competitive. We face two of the best offenses in the nation, Louisville and West Virginia.
"As disappointed as I am about the finish ... I would have been more disappointed if we didn't come out strong. But we didn't sustain it. I've got to get that solved, but you need to deal with it in January, not September. So, that's what we're going to do.''
Some believed that Rhoads would lose his job, but he is heavily favored by his players and has been since his arrival. Wannstedt believed his reassignment as a position coach would be extremely beneficial.
"Having been a coordinator for a significant part of my career, I know the advantages of having your linebackers coach, who is involved in defending both the run and the pass, also serve as defensive coordinator,'' Wannstedt said. "Having Paul make this positional switch will better serve our entire defensive unit and help us put more emphasis on our rushing defense.
"Our goal is to build a Top 10 football program at Pitt and we are continuously striving to improve in every area on and off the field.''
Bray was hired by former Pitt coach Walt Harris in 2000 and initially coached the defensive ends. He was named the linebackers coach in 2003. Kent was also a Harris hire in 2004 to improve the team's strength and conditioning. He previously was at Louisville.