Pitt Football: It's Time To Fire Athletic Director Steve Pederson
Steve Pederson, current Pitt athletic director, is not a Pitt man. He does not have Pitt's interests at heart.
How many more bad decisions does Steve Pederson get to make at the University of Pittsburgh? Why is he allowed by his boss, chancellor Mark Nordenberg, to be a continual source of embarrassment for a university with a long, storied past in football?
The naysayers are ready to pounce. Isn't Steve Pederson the guy who hired Ben Howland to clean-up the cesspool that had become the Pitt basketball program under Ralph Willard, father of current Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard?
Wasn't Pederson the mastermind of tearing down the on-campus 55,000-seat Pitt Stadium to build a 12,000-seat basketball arena in its place?
Hasn't Steve Pederson lowered the price of Pitt football tickets to such a ridiculously low level that there is no excuse for the Panthers not to sell out Heinz Field every week?
Didn't Pederson promise the move off campus to a pro stadium would provide Pitt football with sellouts every home game?
Didn't Steve Pederson extend Dave Wannstedt's contract not once, but twice?
Is Steve Pederson the only athletic director of a FBS university to discuss the hiring of a new head football coach solely in terms of the discipline he will bring to a program rather than the wins?
Finally, is there another bowl-bound program in the country without a designated head coach for the bowl?
The answer to all of the above questions is a resounding "yes." Screwing Pitt football seems to be Pederson's only agenda.
Pitt boosters, and by that designation I mean football season ticket holders and alumni who donate money, are mildly impressed with Michael Haywood, Pitt's new head coach. Haywood brings two years of head coaching experience to Pitt—only one of which with a winning record.
Haywood knows he is already under pressure to keep a highly-rated recruiting class in the fold. When Haywood did a meet-and-greet with fans prior to Pitt's home basketball game with Maryland Eastern Shore, that's the question most often posed to him by fans.
At least Haywood has tuned in to Pitt football and appears to be working hard to put all the pieces in place.
Should Haywood fail miserably next season, the cries for Pederson's head will be overwhelming.
To show that he is in touch with his fan base, Pederson might want to start talking about Pitt's future in the Big East, what his goals are for next season and how and when Pitt fans should expect to see championships.
Remember, Steve Pederson couldn't be bothered with saying anything about winning through his chaotic removal of Dave Wannstedt and clumsy hiring of Haywood. In fact, there isn't another athletic director at one of the Big Six BCS conferences as out-of-touch and as tuned out as Steve Pederson concerning the bottom line.
Bob Smizik, sports blogger for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, writes today that Pederson has thrown Dave Wannstedt, former Pitt coach, "under the bus" by implying Wannstedt ran a renegade program.
The fact that fans are getting that impression is not surprising. Character assassination is one tool inept administrators like Pederson have to belittle others to build themselves up.
Except for four incidents this football season, Wannstedt ran a very clean program at Pitt.
By contrast, at last count Urban Meyer's program at Florida had 30 or so such incidents.
As evidenced in many Bleacher Report columns, I advocated removing Wannstedt as head coach.
When it was evident Pederson had never conducted a pre-termination conference with Wannstedt, I became more empathetic with the ex-coach. It's just common decency for any employer to give an employee a chance to improve.
By making Wannstedt a special assistant to the athletic director, Pederson has an obligation to Pitt boosters to explain exactly what Wannstedt's job will be.
Pederson seems more interested in splitting the Pitt community in two. Like a true coward, he addressed the media just once and let slip the fact he only conducted two interviews. Then he ran back to the sidelines to hide, hoping the label he applied to Wannstedt's program as out of control would stick.
Pederson can build as many baseball stadiums as he wants and he can pat himself on the back for keeping Jamie Dixon as head coach, but those activities have nothing to do with Pitt football.
Just like Harvey Perlman did at Nebraska, Pitt chancellor Nordenberg needs to complete a clean sweep of Pitt football by giving Pederson his walking papers and letting him know he will never be welcomed back to Pitt.
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