Dave Wannstedt with Jim Lachimia

A Q&A with the head football coach of the University of Pittsburgh

PM: The success Pittsburgh sports teams have enjoyed recently – the Steelers winning another Super Bowl, the Pens winning the Stanley Cup, the Pitt basketball team being ranked No. 1 in the country a couple of different times – has been pretty incredible. Does that make fans less appreciative of what your team did last year when it posted nine victories and went to a bowl game? Are they still longing for more?

DW: Yeah, they are and I think that’s fine. I’m here for one reason: to try to win a national championship. The minute I get an indication in my heart that we can’t do it or people don’t want that to happen, then I’ll go coach somewhere else. I mean that’s our goal: to be a national championship team. Every time the Steelers win a Super Bowl or the Penguins win the Stanley Cup and there’s a parade, that’s something I want our recruits to see. I want them to see it and realize what we have here in Pittsburgh because it’s a reflection on all of us. I try to use all those things as advantages in our recruiting process.

PM: What’s it been like for you to become immersed in the city of Pittsburgh again after being away for so many years? Did the city change much during that time?

DW: It has changed, but I think all for the good. Where our offices are right now [on the South Side], 35 years ago when I was going to school at Pitt that was J&L Steel. I worked right there in the mills for two summers in that exact location. So it’s really remarkable when you think not only have the steel mills shut down, but they’re gone and new buildings and new businesses have been built and are up and running. So the city has changed, but the people haven’t. That’s what really separates Pittsburgh from other cities. We play all over the country from L.A. to Miami, and every city has strengths and weaknesses, but I think the thing that separates Pittsburgh is the people. The people haven’t changed.

PM: When you say the people here haven’t changed, what are you talking about specifically?

I believe Pittsburgh people are loyal to their own. I think Pittsburgh people are people that have a real understanding and appreciation for effort and hard work. I don’t think that ever gets lost here. I don’t think that edge or that mindset has ever changed. Pittsburgh people are tough-minded. There’s that common denominator of steadiness, of work ethic, of mental toughness and of "I’ll find a way to make it happen." I would like to think that when someone classifies someone from Pittsburgh, those are the qualities that they talk about. I see it in individuals around here, and I have for a long time.

Categories: Sports