Dave Wannstedt is hard to forget for Chicago Bears fans. Most know him as the guy who took over for Mike Ditka in 1993. From there he was pretty much the central figure on the team for the rest of the decade. One where Bears football was considered a laughing stock for most of it. Wannstedt got off to a promising start though.
After a tough first year, he rallied the Bears to a 9-7 record in 1994 and won a playoff game in Minnesota. The next season they went 9-7 again behind one of the best offenses in Bears history. After that though, the team regressed. They went on to have four-straight losing seasons including identical 4-12 marks in 1997 and 1998.
This cemented Wannstedt as one of the most overrated coaches the team would ever employ. He went on to Miami where he again had some early success only to fade towards the end. Then he decided the NFL was too much of a challenge, so he retreated to the college ranks where he eventually took over as head coach at Pittsburgh.
It was there that the man fittingly became part of what SB Nation (and many others) dubbed the worst college bowl game in history.
Dave Wannstedt rightfully earned such a dubious honor
On New Year’s Eve in 2008, Wannstedt had finally gotten the Panthers to their first bowl game under his watch. The Sun Bowl against Oregon State. While the matchup looked even on paper, closer examination suggests Wannstedt had the superior roster. His lineup was loaded with future NFL notables including defensive end Jabaal Sheard and star running back LeSean McCoy.
A competent coach would’ve been able to take advantage of that.
Instead, Wannstedt watched on in utter futility as his offense failed to generate almost any movement at all. McCoy was run repeatedly against stacked fronts and the Pitt quarterbacks combined for 89 yards and an interception. What made it worse was the coaches were unable to make any meaningful adjustments. How else does one explain Oregon State edge rusher Victor Butler getting four sacks and five tackles for a loss in that game?
The Panthers never did anything to slow him down. That falls at the feet of Wannstedt. Then again after watching him for six seasons in Chicago, no Bears fan would’ve been all that surprised.