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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CFB: Pitt extends Wannstedt’s contract second time

AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH — Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt signed a two-year contract extension Tuesday that runs through the 2014 season, a deal designed to reassure recruits that the Panthers are running one of the nation's most stable programs.

The extension was the second signed by the former Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins coach since he was hired in December 2004. Pitt has a 19-7 record in the two seasons since Wannstedt signed his initial extension.

"We have always believed that when you have the right person, you should give them the time and support to accomplish all the goals they have for our program," athletic director Steve Pederson said.

The 57-year-old Wannstedt is promising that Pitt will be his last job, and he sought extra years on his contract so he could assure potential recruits he would be on the job throughout their college careers.

"It's important when those young men and the mothers are sitting there, they want to make sure that their sons are going into a stable situation," Wannstedt said. "They know that I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere. I've said that from Day 1, and I haven't wavered from that."

Wannstedt had a 16-19 record in his first three seasons, receiving his first extension hours before Pitt upset then-No. 2 West Virginia 13-9 to end the 2007 season — a victory that made a significant impact on the Panthers' recruiting.

The Panthers went on to go 9-4 in 2008 and 10-3 last season, when they lost to Cincinnati 45-44 to end the regular season. That last-minute defeat cost them a Big East title and an appearance in a BCS bowl game, but they rebounded to beat North Carolina 19-17 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The 10-win season was the school's first since 1981.

"We have a lot of unfinished business," Wannstedt said. "Our staff and our players, we understand that. ... I thought we were very capable of winning a championship last year. From that standpoint, we didn't, but we were in the game to win one. Now, we have to win one."

With second team All-American running back Dion Lewis returning for his sophomore season, the Panthers are expected to be the Big East favorite in 2010. That doesn't bother Wannstedt.

"We can't just continue to knock on that door," he said. "we've got to win a championship."

Pederson wouldn't say if Wannstedt got a pay raise.

"We never talk about the pay of our coaches, but we've always tried to compensate our coaches fairly and make sure their (salaries) are competitive," he said.