Another weekend of college football and another loss for the Pitt Panthers. They all have one thing in common though and that's the finger can be pointed right at Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt, justifiably or not.
This last loss to Notre Dame saw many more head scratching decisions. There was the fake punt call down 14 points on their own 35 yard line. There is the predictable play calling all game long. There is the babying of quarterback Tino Sunseri, but nothing compares to the way Wannstedt manages late game pressure situations. Or, more like mismanages the situations.
Take this past loss for instance. Pitt gets the ball on it's own 10 yard line with a little over four minutes left in the game.
Naturally, Wannstedt sticks to his theory of playing not to lose instead of playing to win. First and second downs saw Dion Lewis get carries and gain five yards. On third down, Sunseri had his pass knocked down. The kicker though was that Wannstedt called a timeout after the play to send the punt team on.
Good coaches are organized and prepared and it shows by the way their teams execute, or in this case don't execute on the field. You can't burn a much needed timeout to send the punt team on.
Wannstedt has to take his hands completely off the offense as well. Pitt needed to be aggressive and try and get down the field late in the game. Runs up the middle aren't going to do that. If Sunseri throws a pick in that situation, so what. At least you were trying to win the game.
If Wannstedt has no confidence in Sunseri to get the ball down field, then get him out of there and make Pat Bostick the starter. Part of being a good head coach is putting your team in a position to succeed and Wannstedt doesn't do that.
The play calling was a huge problem in the loss to Utah. The Panthers were simply not prepared against Miami and you have to put some of the blame in the Notre Dame loss on Wannstedt as well.
This team has too much talent to be 2-3. Teams often take on the personality of their head coach and in this case the Panthers are a conservative, unprepared team that is afraid to make mistakes.
Is Wannstedt on the hot seat? If not, I have to ask why not?
Wannstedt holds a career record of 37-28 as the Panthers head coach. That's about average, considering where the team was when he took over, but it's never going to get better.
Pitt should be at the point where it's winning big games. Wannstedt can't do that. Never has and never will. The next big game that Wannstedt wins will be his first. Yes, I know they beat WVU a couple years ago, but that's not what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about a game that the Panthers have to have. A game that they need to make or break their season. A game with something on the line, maybe a Big East title. In those games, Wannstedt is the last coach you want calling the shots.
Like it or not Pitt AD Steve Petersen is going to have a decision to make after this season. Wannstedt should be on the hot seat right now. A Big East title might cool things a bit, but if Petersen brings Wannstedt back for another season, then the message is clear. Pitt will never be more then a mediocre team in a mediocre conference.
Petersen needs to find a guy that can take this program to the next level. The current guy can't do it. Wannstedt can recruit and has had success, but the facts are that he's a lousy head coach.
No matter your feelings on previous coach Walt Harris, this much is sure. Wannstedt makes Harris look like Vince Lombardi.