Friday, November 30, 2007
Pitt Rehires Steve Pederson, Walt Harris
Rerecruits Antonio Bryant, Roosevelt Bynes
In a press conference Friday afternoon, University of Pittsburgh interim athletic director Donna Sanft announced that a successor for former athletic director Jeff Long had finally been named: Steve Pederson. Pederson is no stranger to Pitt, he was athletic director from 1996 to 2002.
"The University of Pittsburgh welcomes back Steve Pederson," announced Sanft. "We look forward to a wonderful working relationship once again!"
Pederson, taking the podium, said, "I never wanted to leave Pittsburgh, and I only did so to work at my alma mater, Nebraska. Now, I'm back at my daughter's alma mater, and my true home, the University of Pittsburgh."
Pederson then opened the floor for questions.
When asked about his strategy to improve the Panthers football team, he outlined a five-point strategy.
"First, and most importantly, we must insist on using the team name 'Pittsburgh.'
"Second, I'm pleased to announce that we've received written commitments from wide receivers [Biletnikoff Award winner] Antonio Bryant and Roosevelt "Sticky Fingas" Bynes, both of whom still have two years of NCAA eligibility left!
"Third, to truly resurrect 'Wide Receiver U', I'm pleased to announce the hiring of Coach Walt Harris to replace Coach Wannstedt after this season—well, Sunday, actually."
Harris coached Pitt football from 1997 to 2004 and was virtually run out of town by alumni and administration despite a winning record, four bowl games, and a 2004 co-Big East Championship and BCS bowl berth. He coached Stanford from 2005-2006.
Pederson's fourth and fifth points included razing the Petersen Event Center and building a new Pittsburgh Stadium, and building a new Petersen Event Center in the heart of Oakland between Oakland Avenue and Atwood Streets.
During Pederson's tenure, Pitt saw four bowl games, two new mascots, a new, edgy Panther logo, an expansion of the school's nickname from "Pitt" to "Pittsburgh", the rise of the Panthers men's basketball team to national prominence, the demolition of Pitt Stadium, the erection of the John M. and Gurtrude E. Petersen Events Center, the Panthers football move to Heinz Field and the UPMC Sports Medicine facility on the South Side.
"It's a new era for Pittsburgh," said Pederson, "Liberty Bowl, here we come!"