Will Dave Wannstedt coach Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl?
Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett represented the Panthers at a news conference for the game in Birmingham on Thursday and said Wannstedt would lead the team against Kentucky. Wannstedt resigned under pressure Tuesday night, but the administration has given him the option of coaching the bowl game.
But Wannstedt told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he still hadn't made up his mind about it.
"I'm going to show up for work tomorrow morning like I always do because I owe it to these kids, I care about them and I don't want to let them down," Wannstedt told the paper. "But this is hard right now, and I'm not ready to go all the way and say I'll definitely be on the sideline for the game. I'll take it a day at a time."
It is a difficult decision. It would be nice if Wannstedt, who is almost universally liked and respected, would get one more game with the players he recruited, and that certainly would seem to give the team motivation to play hard.
However, the timing could prove very awkward. The game will not be played until Jan. 8, and Pitt would almost assuredly have a new coach in place by then. You could have a situation where there's a new guy in town hiring his own staff while the previous one is still trying to get ready for the bowl. That doesn't sound too dissimilar to the mess at Cincinnati last year, where Brian Kelly had left but his staff was still preparing for the Sugar Bowl as Butch Jones was already on board trying to prep for 2010. To say it was awkward would be an understatement.
In the end, I think Wannstedt will end up coaching the game, because he cares about his players too much to pass up a chance to be with them on the sidelines one more time.