Steve Pederson’s first order of business as Nebraska’s athletic director was firing football coach Frank Solich, a move that ultimately led to Pederson’s dismissal.
Upon returning to Pitt, where he was introduced today as athletic director, Pederson is immediately throwing his support behind Panthers football coach Dave Wannstedt.
Pitt is expected to announce at Saturday’s 100th Backyard Brawl at West Virginia that it will extend Wannstedt’s contract three years, through the 2012 season.
“Absolutely, I’m a supporter of Dave Wannstedt, and I’m going to do everything I can for him to be successful,” Pederson said. “He’s our football coach and I want him to be our football coach.
“I’m not in a position to talk about (a contract extension) right now. But I think we will be in the very short term.”
Wannstedt did not return calls seeking comment.
Pitt is 4-7 overall, 2-4 in the Big East Conference this season, and Wannstedt has a 15-19 overall record in his third year of a five-year deal. He has openly campaigned for an extension to enhance his recruiting efforts.
At his introductory news conference, Pederson called Wannstedt a “good friend and somebody that I am excited to work with.” Pederson noted that Wannstedt, then head coach of the Chicago Bears, was one of the first and most-prominent alums to take a phone call from Pederson on his first day as Pitt athletic director in October 1996.
“He’s a Pitt guy,” Pederson said. “He wants the program to be special. I’m anxious to work with him to get this program moving forward.”