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Wannstedt just can't seem to shake loser tag


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http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orl-hill1105oct11,0,4114800.column?coll=orl-sports-headlines

"We are what we are, and it is what it is."

Those words came from Dave Wannstedt before Pittsburgh lost to Rutgers two weeks ago, which sadly is only the second-worst humiliation Pitt suffered this season. No. 1 was losing to Ohio. And notice "State" doesn't come after that.

If Wannstedt's words are interpreted within the context of Pitt's 2005 season, it means he's no good and neither is Pitt.

Welcome Pitt fans to Wanny's World, a show still in syndication despite being canceled in Miami after 41/2 seasons.

USF visits Pitt on Saturday and there is a real expectation the Bulls will pull off the "upset," letting you know Wannstedt is up to the same old tricks that prompted his merciful resignation from the Dolphins last year after a 1-8 start.

Not all discarded NFL coaches are created in the image of Pete Carroll, who made the NFL-to-college route attractive to college athletic directors nationwide because he turned USC into a national championship dynamo.

Wannstedt impressively has found the hot seat just six games into his storied return to his alma mater. Even Renee Zellweger's honeymoon lasted longer than that.

Hiring Wannstedt was hailed as a layup for Pitt, but it's looking like a brick.

Wannstedt worked as a steel mill worker when he played for the Panthers in the early 1970s. He represents Pittsburgh's blue-collar fabric to a tee and no matter what was said about Wannstedt as an NFL coach, he always was a hero back home.

But they've turned on their homeboy. The Panthers' win over Cincinnati on Saturday was their first over a Division I-A opponent -- their only other victory came against I-AA Youngstown State -- and that would have been a whole lot more impressive if the Bearcats weren't projected to finish near the bottom of the Big East.

"Along with the excitement comes expectations," Wannstedt said. "Because our team is coming off of an eight-win season last year and tying for the Big East championship, that probably has as much do with it. It's a process. We know where we've got to get better and where we've got to get stronger. These things don't happen overnight."

It's true part of the reason Pitt was in the Fiesta Bowl last season was because the Big East was weaker than a Roy Jones jab. That team was just a notch above mediocre, but it still beat Ohio by 21 points and slapped Rutgers by 24.

With virtually the same personnel, Wannstedt has turned Pitt from a Top 25 team to maybe the most disappointing team in the country.

"I knew there would be a transition," Wannstedt said. "If you look at the team last year, it was an up-and-down team, but they found a way to win. We're up there in an overtime game with Ohio and we just didn't find a way to win."

If you've got to "find" a way to beat the Bobcats, then something is terribly wrong.

Seeing Wannstedt on the sidelines against the Bulls will just reawaken the bad memories Dolphins fans are trying to forget. Remember the time Wannstedt's Miami team lost at home to Arizona, which had lost 17 straight road games? Remember when he guided the Dolphins to their worst start in the franchise's 39-year history? Remember the way he skillfully coached as if losing were a foregone conclusion?

Different town, same Wannstedt.

Granted, even good coaches have rocky starts. The almighty Carroll was 6-6 his first season at USC. Mike Shula was 10-15 his first two seasons with Alabama, but he's got the Crimson Tide thinking national championship this season.

But at some point, what you see is what you get. And if Wannstedt is what he is, there's a lot more trouble ahead for Pitt.

Jemele Hill can be reached at jhill@orlandosentinel.com.

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Wannstedt impressively has found the hot seat just six games into his storied return to his alma mater. Even Renee Zellweger's honeymoon lasted longer than that.

Hiring Wannstedt was hailed as a layup for Pitt, but it's looking like a brick.

The Big East was weaker than a Roy Jones jab.

Looks like Jemele's been getting comedy tips from Mike Bianchi.

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he outcoached leavitt today

Good Lord. And you actually coach football?

Wannstedt ran the same predictable offense he always does. You know, like simple draw plays on 3rd-and-6. The only problem was, USF COULDN'T STOP IT.

USF's inability to put any pressure on Tyler Palko, or stop Pitt's A-B-C running game, played right into what Wannstedt wants to do. And give the Pitt offense credit. The OL played very well after the first couple drives, and in those rare cases where they actually threw downfield, Palko delivered a good ball.

This one's on the players.

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