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DAVE WANNSTEDT OUT AT PITT

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The University of Pittsburgh will part ways with head coach Dave Wannstedt after a disappointing 7-5 season. Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said at a press conference that Wannstedt, 42-31 over six seasons, resigned Tuesday afternoon.

He will remain at Pitt in the capacity of special assistant to the athletic director.

"The past six years have been among the most gratifying of my entire career," said Wannstedt, a 1974 graduate of Pitt and former standout offensive tackle for the Panthers. "To be the head coach at my university was the realization of a lifelong dream. It has been an honor and privilege to serve Pitt and its football program.

"I've always told our players that the University of Pittsburgh will mean more to them than just four years of school and football. It will influence and inspire everything they do long after their last class and final game. I know that firsthand. I owe so much of my life to the education and experiences I had here. Pitt has always been, and will continue to be, an incredibly special place for my family and me."

Wannstedt's 2010 team entered the season with high hopes, ranked in the Top 20 and heavily favored to win the Big East conference. The season started out with an overtime road loss to No. 25 Utah and went downhill from there, as the team lost 31-3 at home to Miami and opened the season 2-3.

Additionally, several players were arrested in both major and minor incidents, something Wannstedt's teams had previously avoided for the most part under his leadership.

The team seemed to recover on and off the field, however, and got off to a 3-0 start to the Big East season before a surprising 30-28 loss to Connecticut.

Despite the early losses and the loss to UConn, Pitt remained in the driver's seat for the Big East's BCS berth until they suffered an embarrassing loss to West Virginia, 35-10, in front of their home crowd.

It was the third straight season that Pitt entered the final two games of the year with a chance to win the conference and failed to do so.

Wannstedt was hired to replace Walt Harris near the end of the 2004 season—the only season in which Pitt earned a BCS berth—and did not have a winning season during his first three years. After ending the 2007 season with a stunning 13-9 win over West Virginia, however, Pitt went a combined 19-7 in the 2008-09 seasons, and the athletic department gave him a contract extension 11 months ago. Pitt's three-year record of 26-12 is the program's best three-year run in 28 years, but the failure to win a Big East title during his tenure was apparently the major issue.

"On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh, I'd like to thank Coach Wannstedt for his passionate and committed service the past six years," Pederson said. "This has never been just a job for Dave. He is wholeheartedly committed to Pitt and its people. We are greatly appreciative of his efforts to build a strong program on and off the field."

Pitt has now parted ways with their head football coach each time the team has tied for the regular season Big East conference title – the only two times the Panthers have ever finished the season atop the conference.

Pederson, who will begin a national search for a replacement immediately, said that Wannstedt can coach the team in their Jan. 8 bowl game against Kentucky if he so chooses.

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