Earlier in the year, after a brutal loss to Rutgers, I wrote an article titled “Dave Wannstedt Scoffs at Your Football Powerhouse.” Let's just say my criticism of Coach Wanstache was just a tad harsh.
Three days after I wrote that article, Pitt went into Notre Dame and won, despite the fact that starting quarterback Bill Stull was unavailable for the game. I know a win against Notre Dame doesn’t carry the same weight that it used to, but anytime you can defeat a rival away from home it is a big win. A big win that I had accused the 'Stache of being unable to deliver.
Yesterday, Pitt made the trip up to UCONN with a chance for its first nine-win season since 1982. Since UCONN is only about a two-hour drive for me, I made the trip to watch Pitt in person for the first time since I graduated two years ago. My cousin and I had laid out intricate plans for a long day of tailgating and football.
Just as I was packing the car to make the trip, a UPS truck pulled in front of my house with a package. I hastily opened the package since I was already running late, it was a small cooler with a note attached. The note was from coach Wannstedt himself! It read as follows,
I read your article about me and heard you were coming up to UCONN this weekend. I think you should eat this during your post game tailgate. It’s my special recipe.
Hail to Pitt,
Pitt struggled in the first half against the Huskies but intercepted five passes in the second half and cruised to a 34-10 victory. After the victory I went back to the parking lot and chowed down on Dave Wannstedt’s crow. It was the best I’ve ever tasted!
Credit needs to be given where credit is due. Coach Wannstedt spent three years tearing down what Walt Harris had built before him; this season, he has the program in a better place than it has been at any point since Dan Marino wore blue and gold.
Pitt’s last bowl game was the Fiesta Bowl in the 2004 season. That team had no business being in that game and was very lucky to have won eight games that season. Sure they beat Notre Dame and West Virgina that season, but it took a f*!%ing amazing performance by Tyler Palko in South Bend and a ton of breaks in the Backyard Brawl.
This year’s Pitt team is a better team than that Fiesta Bowl team. Aside from the Bowling Green debacle, their only losses were to a Rutgers team that has played top 25 caliber football since Halloween and a good Cincinnati team that fired on all cylinders against Pitt.
The Panther’s nine wins were not a mistake, anything they got this year was well deserved and they will represent the university and the conference well in the Sun Bowl.
This year Dave Wannstedt has shut up all of us. He can be successful! He can win the big one! We know this now. I am not sure if he will ever get Pitt into the national title picture, we probably lack the resources and the conference to do that.
He is, however, the right man for the job. Coach Wannstedt, my apologies for ever doubting you. Mea Culpa.