J. Steigerwald column for 12.13/14.14
Make a list of every person living within a 50-mile radius of Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning. Put the name Steve Pederson at the bottom of the list.
Everyone, in the order in which they appear on the list, should be given the chance to hire Pitt’s next football coach, before Pederson.
Steve, in case you didn’t know, is Pitt’s Athletic Director.
He’s the guy who fired former Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt in 2010.
He hired Mike Haywood in December of 2010.
He fired Haywood two and a half weeks later after Haywood was arrested on a domestic violence charge.
He hired Todd Graham on January 11th, 2011.
Eleven months later, in December, 2012, Graham sneaked out of town to become the coach at Arizona State.
He hired Paul Chryst eight days later.
Now, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that Chryst is about to become the new head coach at Wisconsin.
You could say it’s not Pederson’s fault that Graham and Chryst left and you would be half right. Graham’s resume showed him to be a guy who was perfectly willing to make a long term commitment to a school and then bolt after a year or two.
Chryst said all the right things about being committed to Pitt for the long term and Pederson had no way of knowing that Chryst’s dream job at Wisconsin would come open so soon.
But, Pederson fired a Pitt guy who had gone 27-12 in his last three seasons. Wannstedt didn’t want to coach anywhere else. If he had been more successful at Pitt, do you think he would have left for Wisconsin or Arizona State?
Pitt is now the punch line in any joke about college football programs that can’t hold on to its head coaches. Wannstedt wasn’t perfect, but he’d still be here if Pederson hadn’t run him off and there’s every reason to believe he could have done better than Chryst’s 19-19 the last three years.
If Wisconsin wanted to hire the most successful Pitt coach of the last five years, it wouldn’t be Chryst. It would be Wannstedt.
Fifteen days before Mark Nordenberg stepped down as Pitt’s Chancellor, he gave Pederson a five year extension through 2018.
Looking back on it, Nordenberg should have told Pederson to take a hike and extended Wannstedt.
– If you are one of the many area sports fans who believes that the only reason the Pirates don’t spend money is the Nutting family’s cheapness, you need to ask yourself if either the Rooney family or the Burkle-Lemieux partnership would be willing to cut into their profits or lose money in order to compete in a non-salary cap world.
Burkle is a billionaire a few times over and in 2003 his payroll was $50 million less than the New York Rangers and his team was involved in some serious salary dumping.
-There are life lessons that kids, who are involved in youth sports, can learn. That’s the good news. The bad news is that sometimes the lessons send the wrong message. The coaches at Douglass High School in Oklahoma sent the wrong lesson to their kids when they went to court to get the results of state football playoff game reversed.
Douglass was behind Locus Grove 20-19 and on its own 42 when Qua’Sean Sims caught a screen pass and ran up the sideline for an apparent touchdown, but while he was running, a Douglass coach ran down the sideline and bumped into an official.
Douglass was penalized 15 yards and the touchdown was called back. The referee blew it.
An automatic 15-yard penalty was the right call, but the rule book says it should be enforced after the touchdown.
Douglas lost 20-19 and Locus Grove advanced to the state semi-final, but not before the game was delayed for a week while a judge ruled on Douglass’ appeal to have the game replayed or at least resumed after counting what should have been the winning touchdown.
Maybe you can find a lawyer to tell you why the judge didn’t throw the case out of court, but the big problem is with the Douglass coaches who refused to accept the loss and took it to court.
The first lesson should have been that it’s only football and that football and life are not always fair. The second lesson should have been that the secret to not being the victim of bad calls is to play well enough to overcome them. Try not to be one point behind with a minute to go.
Instead, the coaches sent the message to the kids that, in the 21st century, instant replay is always there to protect you and there is nothing that happens to you that a lawsuit can’t overturn.