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College football notebook

Pitt makes coaching change

Wannstedt out after disappointing season

D. WANNSTEDT 42-31 in 6 seasons D. WANNSTEDT
42-31 in 6 seasons
Associated Press / December 8, 2010

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Dave Wannstedt is out as Pitt football coach following a disappointing season in which the Panthers were big favorites to win a weak Big East Conference, only to finish 7-5 and qualify for a minor bowl.

Pitt announced that the former Bears and Dolphins coach was stepping down, apparently under pressure from athletic director Steve Pederson. Wannstedt, highly regarded by Pitt’s administration, will remain as a special assistant to Pederson.

Pitt apparently chose to make the change now, rather than after the Jan. 8 Compass Bowl, because most top candidates would have been hired by then. Also, the national letter-of-intent signing day would be less than a month away.

Wannstedt’s tenure was marked by upset losses to teams such as Ohio University and Bowling Green and a failure to play in a BCS bowl — something the Panthers accomplished under lame-duck coach Walt Harris before Wannstedt took over in 2005. Wannstedt compiled a 42-31 record in six seasons.

The Panthers didn’t have a winning record during Wannstedt’s first three seasons, then failed to meet expectations even while going 9-4 in 2008 and 10-3 in 2009. Last-minute losses to West Virginia and Cincinnati to end the 2009 regular season cost Pitt the Big East title and a BCS berth after it had moved into the AP Top 10.

Miller wins Butkus Texas A&M’s Von Miller has won the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker. He beat out Luke Kuechly of Boston College, who leads the nation with 171 tackles, in voting by journalists, coaches, scouts and recruiters. They were followed by Akeem Ayers of UCLA, Bruce Carter of North Carolina, and Justin Houston of Georgia. Miller finished the regular season with 59 tackles (34 solo), and forced three fumbles, recovering two, and was defensive captain for the 9-3 Aggies, who earned a postseason trip to the Cotton Bowl. He led the Big 12 in sacks for the second straight season with 9 1/2 . . . Boise State president Bob Kustra is using an error in the final Bowl Championship Series rankings to start a new round of criticism of the system that determines postseason bowl pairings. Kustra sent an e-mail to university presidents and conference commissioners blasting the BCS system for its lack of transparency in how teams are ranked. Kustra said the BCS is allowed to work its magic with no accountability for accuracy. On Monday, the final BCS standings were found to have a mistake that moved Boise State up one spot to No. 10 and dropped LSU from 10th to 11th. The glitch did not have any impact on the Broncos’ postseason plans. Kustra has been a critic of the BCS because he said it treats schools from smaller conferences like second-class citizens.

Good Luck in Pac-10 Heisman Trophy finalist Andrew Luck of Stanford has been awarded Pac-10 offensive player of the year honors. Also, Oregon State defensive tackle Steven Paea was named top defensive player and Oregon’s Chip Kelly won the coach of the year. . . . Indiana has given new football coach Kevin Wilson a seven-year contract worth $1.2 million per year. Wilson has been the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma since 2006. His hiring comes nine days after Bill Lynch, who had three straight losing seasons, was fired.

Ellerson re-ups at Army Army coach Rich Ellerson, who this season guided the Black Knights to their first bowl game in 14 years, was given a two-year extension through 2015. Terms were not revealed. In just his second season at Army, Ellerson led the Black Knights (6-5) to a berth in the Armed Forces Bowl against SMU Dec. 30. Army was 5-7 his first season. Army concludes its regular season against Navy (8-3) Saturday. . . . UMass junior linebacker Tyler Holmes and New Hampshire senior defensive back Dino Vasso were named American Football Coaches Association All-Americans. Holmes had 110 tackles and five sacks in 11 games. Vasso had six interceptions and 52 tackles this season.