Tag:Dave Wannstedt
Posted on: December 20, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Report: FIU's Cristobal is 'frontrunner' for Pitt

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pittsburgh's search to replace Todd Graham as the head football coach has slowed since the weekend's interviews, possibly because school officials are waiting for a response from the reported frontrunner: Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal.

Paul Zeise, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reports that Cristobal emerged from the weekend as the leading candidate to become the next Panthers football coach, but asked the school to hold off any further discussions until after FIU's bowl game. Cristobal's Golden Panthers squad will make its second-straight postseason appearance against Marshall in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl on Tuesday night.

Cristobal interviewed with the school last week, but the Panthers have back-up plans if the Miami native chooses to stay put with the Golden Panthers. Ohio State defensive coordinator -- and interim coach for 2011 -- Luke Fickell as well as Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst are the other known candidates for the vacant position. The report in the Gazette cited a source close to one of those candidates that suggested Pitt was "waiting for something" before moving forward. It is believed the school will wait for the completion of Tuesday's bowl game before gauging the interest of Cristobal.

No formal offers have been made by the school to any candidates, but all three would fit the mold Pittsburgh is looking for in their next coach. Of course, the Panthers thought Todd Graham fit that mold as well, but the most high-octane aspect from Graham's time in Pittsburgh was the speed of his exit. The school is looking for a coach to re-energize the storied program that has only claimed a share of two conference titles since 1980.

Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will serve as the interim head coach when the Panthers face SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7 in Birmingham.

Get set for Mario Cristobal and FIU's showdown in Tuesday's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl against Marshall at the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Pregame

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 12:51 pm
 

Report: Fickell, Chryst among Pitt candidates

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's a lot to blame Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson for where the discombobulated state of his football program is concerned. But at least it sounds like he's got a plan in the wake of Todd Graham's stunning departure.

And according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the first name mentioned as part of that plan is Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. The Post-Gazette reported Friday that Rhoads "appears to be the most coveted of the group [of potential candidates] as ... Pederson and chancellor Mark Nordenberg like and respect him and think he is an excellent football coach."

A former Panther defensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt who spent eight seasons on the Pitt staff, Rhoads declined to speak to Pederson following Wannstedt's firing in 2010 out of loyalty to the Cyclones. But "according to two people close to Rhoads" who spoke to the Post-Gaztte, this time around Rhoads would be willing to sit down with Pitt and "likely will talk with the administration" regarding the opening.

UPDATE, 12:45 ET: Actually, you can probably forget the Rhoads talk; ISU announced Friday that Rhoads had signed a 10-year contract extension with the school.

With Rhoads presumably off the table, the focus will turn towards who the Post-Gazette reports is also on the Panthers' potential list of candidates: Ohio State assistant/2010 head coach Luke Fickell, Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren and former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook. Pederson reportedly feels strongly enough in that pool of candidates that the school is forgoing the use of a search committee.

Fickell has reportedly already interviewed, with Chryst due to interview this Saturday. Given the upheaval around him in Columbus, Fickell may be the leading candidate until further notice.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:43 pm
 

Pitt players react to Todd Graham's departure

Posted by Chip Patterson

Todd Graham's departure from Pittsburgh to accept the head coaching job at Arizona State came as a big surprise to the college football world, especially the Pittsburgh players and administration. The school has already issued their official statement of disappointment, but the current Panthers took their displeasure to Twitter.

It wasn't pretty, either.

Below are a few selections from defensive end Brandon Lindsey (@B_Lindsey7), wide receiver Devin Street (@D_Street_15), and wide receiver Salath Williams (@WiLLiando17). Graham reportedly informed the team by text message as he was on the way to Tempe to be officially introduced as the next coach of the Sun Devils. Lindsey and Street, in particular, spent a great deal of Wednesday voicing their frustrations. If you'd like you can check out their pages in the links above - but warning, some language is NSFW.








Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 11:23 pm
 

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sometimes the coaching carousel spins slowly, and other times the college football world is blindsided by a surprise hire in the winter months. The news of Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham departing to accept the vacant job at Arizona State came from the carousel's rapid spin cycle.

Graham's decision to leave Pittsburgh happened so quickly he did not take the time to tell his team in person, instead he sent them a text as he left for Tempe for Wednesday's announcement. After the Sun Devils' negotiations with SMU head coach June Jones reportedly broke down in the final moments, the school was happy to seal the deal quickly with Graham.

 "Criteria for our head coach was established, and the word that was at the forefront of discussions was `energy'... energy towards promoting our program in the community and with former players," Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love said in a statement. "Energy towards instilling discipline, leadership and in recruiting. Energy towards representing our brand in every facet of the program. In Todd, we have not only hired a young and sitting head coach, but one with a history of success on the field and in hiring top-notch assistant coaches."

Graham's arrival at Arizona State is their answer to recent Pac-12 additions like Mike Leach at Washington State and Rich Rodriguez at in-state rival Arizona. But as Graham promised to move the ball down the field in his first day as head coach, he used the same motto he relied on when introducing himself to Pittsburgh fans.

 "Obviously, our offense is going to be high octane, it's going to be quick-strike, explosive," said Graham, 49-29 in six years as head coach. "Our whole deal is about explosive plays. I like to see the ball thrown down the field."

That "high-octane" phrase was one Graham pounded so hard into the mind of Pittsburgh fans, he had it plastered on the newly redesigned website for "high-octane Pitt football." Needless to say, the Panthers' fans and administration are not pleased that Graham did not stick around to deliver on his high-octane promises.  Players from the current Pittsburgh roster were furious, and took to Twitter to vent their frustrations through social media.  The administration showed their disappointment in a more traditional manner with a press release.

 "Obviously this is not the way we would have expected Mr. Graham to handle any possible departure," Pitt executive vice chancellor and general counsel Jerry Cochran said. "Beyond normal expectations with respect to professional conduct, he has failed to comply with the terms of his contract."

The only "high-octane" aspect of Graham's offense this season was watching quarterback Tino Sunseri run for his life as the Panthers allowed an FBS-high 57 sacks during the regular season. Pittsburgh ranked in the bottom half of the Big East in passing and scoring offense. The one offensive highlight from the Panthers' first season under Graham was the explosion of running back Ray Graham, who averaged over 130 yards per game before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The 6-6 Panthers will be coached by defensive coordinator Keith Patterson against SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7.  Click here to check out the latest on the Panthers and Mustangs at the BBVA Compass Bowl Pregame

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: March 7, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Graham promises 'high-octane' football at Pitt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The past few seasons, there haven't been many adjectives less applicable to Pitt than "high-octane." Even in the Panthers' best days under Dave Wannstedt, their erratic passing game and slog-it-out rushing attack -- on display in the cavernous, often frigid, choppy, rarely lively Heinz Field -- never made for appointment viewing. When arguably the most memorable game* of your team's past decade is the lowest-scoring bowl game in 40 years , yes, it's probably time to look for something a little more pulse-pounding.

So it's no surprise that Todd Graham has begun his Pitt tenure by promising exactly that :
Members of the Pitt athletic department distributed gray T-shirts to season ticket holders that had on them, in blue ink, "High Octane Football, Coming Soon to Heinz Field."

Those shirts summarized football coach Todd Graham's message to fans during a "Let's Talk Football With Coach Graham," event Sunday at Petersen Events Center: Next season his offense will stomp on the gas pedal, creating more offensive possessions and more explosive plays.

"This isn't nanotechnology or nuclear science," Graham told the crowd of approximately 2,000. "We are going to mentally and physically wear you out."

If Graham and co-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell live up to their talk, some information-processing nanotechnology might actually be necessary to help Panther fans understand what they're seeing; they promised to snap the ball within five seconds of it being marked ready for play, to run the two-minute offense the entire game and throw "10 40-yard passes outside the hash marks per game." Tino Sunseri throwing a three-yard check-down on third-and-13, this sounds like it is not.

What it sounds like, in fact, is a carbon-copy of the offense installed by Gus Malzahn when he worked under Graham at Tulsa. The question is whether Graham can transplant it to Pitt with any real success; even with Malzahn on hand, the Golden Hurricane defense (the side of the ball on which Graham, a former defensive coordinator, would have more input) struggled so badly opposite the high-tempo no-time-of-possession offense that Graham never did win a Conference USA title. And at Auburn, Malzahn reined in the tempo to a certain degree ... and won a national title.

So it remains something of a question mark whether the all-out offensive approach can work for someone who's not a Chip Kelly- level genius. But after so much time spent watching -- or sleeping through -- Wannstacheball, it's understandable that Pitt and its fans want to give it a shot.

*Personally, this blogger would argue for the Panthers' wild 45-44 loss to Cincinnati to see the 2009 Big East title slip away, but that game's not nearly as representative of the Wannstedt era ... nor one Pitt fans will want to recall any more than the Sun Bowl disaster.

Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:44 pm
 

Dave Wannstedt defends his time at Pitt

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Wednesday Sports Illustrated and CBS News released a story about the amount of football players in college sports with arrest records, and the lack of background checks that schools are performing on these players. Without a doubt, the school that emerged from the story with the biggest black eye on its reputation was Pitt, as the Panthers have had quite a few run-ins with the law as of late. Of course, this also reflected poorly on former head coach Dave Wannstedt, who oversaw the program as all these arrests were taking place.

On Thursday Wannstedt, now with the Buffalo Bills, tried to defend himself. Saying that while there were some problems while he was at Pitt, he was still proud of what he'd accomplished at the school.

"We had an unfortunate stretch of incidents last summer but I am very proud of our body of work during my six years with regards to players behavior," Wannstedt told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Every player [we recruited] was evaluated and scrutinized and we tried to project whether they would become productive members of our football program as well as the university at large. Every player and each incident was evaluated on an individual basis and we did our due diligence to make sure that we treated each player fair and almost all of the incidents resulted in either a suspension or a player being eliminated from our program and many of the incidents in question did not result in a conviction of any kind.

"Our players understood their responsibility, they graduated and for the most part, they did the right things."

Unfortunatly for Wannstedt, the results seem to indicate otherwise. Incredibly, only hours after the story went public, news of another Pitt football player being arrested emerged. The most amazing part of Fernando Diaz's arrest was that he needed to be Tasered by police four times before finally being subdued. However, the most telling part of Diaz's arrest was what his teammate said to him as he was struggling with the police.

Diaz's teammate told him to calm down because Dave Wannstedt was no longer the head coach, and that new head coach Todd Graham was going to make an example of him.

Sounds like Pitt players really did understand their responsibility. Get in trouble under coach Wannstedt and they just might get slapped on the wrist.
Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 3:52 pm
 

Pitt player fights with police, tased four times

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Maybe you read the story today on the amount of criminal activity and lack of background checks amongst college football players that CBS News and Sports Illustrated worked together on. If you have, then consider the following story to be very bad timing for Pitt. You see, the story began with the number of incidents that have taken place at Pitt in recent months, and it looks like the Panthers have a new case to notch on the arrest bedpost.

Fernando Diaz spent his 2010 season as a redshirt freshman on Pitt's offensive line, and it seems he spent his early Tuesday morning fighting with police and getting tased four times. Yes, that's right. Not once. Not even twice. Four times.
A redshirted freshman on the University of Pittsburgh football team on Saturday became the latest Pitt athlete to be arrested when city police said he was highly intoxicated in Oakland, blocked them from driving down Atwood Sreet, and resisted arrest and fought with them so much that he had to be Tasered four times.
The suspect, Fernando M. Diaz, 20, of Bronx, N.Y., was taken into custody after a cruiser on routine patrol at 1:56 a.m. had to stop on Atwood because Mr. Diaz was standing in the middle of street yelling at someone in an adjacent parking lot. He refused to move, police said. When he saw the police car, officers said, he responded "What the [expletive] are you going to do, hit me?"
Officers got out of their car but he became belligerent and yelled at them, police said, and a crowd gathered. A man who said he was on the team with Mr. Diaz told him to "shut his mouth" and accept the citation for being publicly drunk, cautioning him that former Pitt Head Coach Dave Wannstedt was not there any more and new coach Todd Graham would make an example of him.
I can only wonder what Diaz's teammate would have instructed him to do if Dave Wannstedt were still the head coach. Would he have told Diaz to fight?

Anyway, while being given the citation, Diaz tried to walk away from the scene twice. He also told the police he wouldn't sign it, and wasn't going to court. So when he tried to walk away again, the police attempted to handcuff him, which is when Diaz began swinging at the police. The police then had to tase him four times before he was subdued.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Mike Haywood enters diversion program

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Do you remember Mike Haywood? Here's a refresher course for you in case you forgot. He was the head coach at Miami (OH) who led the Redhawks to a MAC title this year, and was a coach on the rise. He then got hired to replace Dave Wannstedt at Pitt, and held the job a whole two and a half weeks before being arrested on domestic battery charges. Haywood subsequently lost the Pitt job, and was replaced by Todd Graham.

There, caught up?

Well, Haywood spent his day in court on Friday, where he admitted to grabbing the mother of his son, Beth Marriott. Haywood was then forced to enter a court diversion program at the behest of Marriott. Which means that he'll have to undergo a psychological evaluation and perform 60 hours of community service. 

If Haywood complies with the sentencing, all charges will be cleared from his record in a year. Of course, what that will do for a coaching career that was on the rise, we'll have to wait and see.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com