Pitt Extends Wannstedt's Contract

The last time the University of Pittsburgh extended football coach Dave Wannstedt's contract, the Panthers knocked off then No. 2-ranked West Virginia and have had back-to-back nine-win regular seasons.

That success, as well as last year's 10-3 mark that included the first Pitt bowl victory since 2002, spurred Panthers athletic director Steve Pederson to announce a Wannstedt contract extension through January, 2015.

Two years were added to Wannstedt's current agreement, according to Pederson, who just returned to Pittsburgh two days earlier.

"I guess we should have done this before the Cincinnati game last year,'' Pederson said. "Maybe E.J. should have advised me better. ... (But) Dave had been focused on recruiting, so that's why we waited until now.

"We never talk about the pay of our coaches, but we've always tried to compensate (them) fairly and make sure their (salaries) are competitive. So, that's something, with all of our coaches, that we've tried to make certain of at all times.''

Pederson noted that Wannstedt was still energized, so he could see the head coach easily completing his contract. And this would be his last job?

"Yep,'' Wannstedt said. "I really don't have any desire ... I'm doing this to try to make kids better people and to make a difference in their lives, and I'm trying to make a contribution to this university and city. And that's the end of it.

"When you're dealing with 18-, 19- and 20-year-old kids on a daily basis, it can be energizing. I enjoy that part of it. I enjoy everything that goes on at this university. The basketball games, men's and women's sports and things going on with the faculty. ... That's all part of the college experience.

"(And) we have a lot of unfinished business,'' Wannstedt said. "Our staff and our players, we understand that, and we're working hard every day to find an edge to give us a way to accomplish (our goal) of winning championships. (And) this program is equipped to do that.''

Wannstedt believed the Panthers were ready to win the Big East title last fall, but that was the first time since he arrived after the 2004 season. That, ironically, was Pitt's first Big East crown and BCS bid. It had the tie-breaker ahead of Boston College and West Virginia that year in a three-way tie.

"I thought we were very capable of winning a championship last year,'' Wannstedt said. "From that standpoint, we didn't, but we were in the game to win one. Now, we have to win one.

"I don't think up to that point that we were good enough or deep enough with depth or sound enough in other areas to honestly feel like we could win on a consistent basis and win enough games to win a championship.

"I think that we have,'' Wannstedt added, "but we've obviously got to continue to get better and continue to recruit and coach them. And we can't just continue to knock on that door. We've got to win a championship.''

The question many want to know is will Pitt be competitive this year and the next several to come?

"We're not as deep as I would like to be on the offensive line, due to graduation,'' Wannstedt said. "And the tight end thing, there's some uncertainty there, because of graduation. But I think that we have some good, young players.

"And it's exciting to think about who's going to be the Dorin Dickerson of this year or the Dion Lewis. Who's going to be the guy that nobody's talking about now, but he has a big year.''

With spring drills in full swing, it's only a matter of time for those players to emerge. And with Wannstedt here for the long haul, that trend should continue.

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