Steve Pederson's next few years in the ACC

Jared Wickerham

Pitt's oft-maligned athletic director was instrumental in leading the Panthers to the ACC, but can he continue to help his athletic teams reach new heights?

The "Script Pitt" logo. Pitt Stadium. Mike Haywood. Todd Graham.

When you mention the name "Steve Pederson" to a Pitt fan, those are the phrases you will often hear intermingled with several curse words. Passionate about their school, this faction of the fan base has a right to question Pederson's methods after the football coaching fiasco that has taken place over the past several seasons. However, many of them will often over-emphasize items that are not important, like logos or colors, instead of focusing relevant facts of Pederson's 13 year reign.

Whether some can admit it or not, Pitt's athletic department has improved leaps and bounds under Pederson's watch. The men's basketball program, and more recently the men's wrestling program, have turned into consistent winners. The football, baseball, and basketball teams have moved into state of the art facilities. The athletic department has aligned itself with Nike, rather than Adidas (remember, Adidas made these). Football has renewed its rivalry with Penn State. All 19 athletic teams met or surpassed the NCAA Academic Progress Rate. Athletic fund raising has increased significantly.

These are all amazing accomplishments, and all have played a part in the Panthers now being a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Panthers are safe and have found stability in the turbulent times of conference realignment, but they have done so without putting a consistent winner on the field in the sport that matters the most financially...football.

While there is always room for improvement, there is little left that would have as big of an impact as winning in football would. This fact, along with the recent announcement of Chancellor Mark Nordenberg (a Pederson proponent) retiring in 2014, may put Pederson under the microscope of not only the fan base, but also of his new boss. If Paul Chryst wins, Pederson will likely find himself with a new contract extension in 2018. However, if Chryst fails to win consistently, the new chancellor may look to install not only a new football coach, but his own hire to run Pitt athletics.

Only time will tell. No pressure, Coach Chryst.

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