In news today that will surely rattle Pitt fans, athletic director Steve Pederson received a five-year extension from the school. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
If you've been reading this blog for any number of time, you know I'm pretty much in the middle on Pederson. I understand there are reasons to criticize him and after he bolted for Nebraska, for the record, I was NOT in favor of bringing him back.
Let's face it - he's done some ridiculous things such as falling in love with the monstrosity that is the Pitt head logo and falling short on some hirings. And depending on which side of the stadium issue you fall, there's also the oft-criticized move to Heinz Field and removal of the script logo.
But he's done some good, too.
He's helped renew the Penn State series - something looked nearly impossible for so long. He made playing Notre Dame a priority and got that series back on a 1:1 basis (which, when you think about it, is pretty remarkable in that Pitt doesn't bring much to the table against them other than a deep history, if we're being honest). Pederson has also helped keep Jamie Dixon around, hired Suzie McConnell-Serio, and whatever you think of him right now, brought in Paul Chryst - who was a top assistant that had turned down other jobs.
One other shortfall under his watch has been the smaller athletic programs at Pitt. Many have failed to win during his tenure. But the baseball program had it's best season ever this year in terms of wins, the gymnastics program was ranked in the top 25, and the wrestling program is constantly in the top 25. There's work to be done but it's good to see several other programs having a level of success.
And the big thing is obviously steering Pitt into the ACC.
From the presser:
“With the University of Pittsburgh set to officially join the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1, our athletic programs never have been better positioned for future success,” Nordenberg said. “That is a real tribute to the hard work and effective leadership provided by Steve Pederson as Pitt’s athletic director.
“Just two years ago, during a period of significant conference instability, Steve was a driving force in helping us to find the best possible conference home. When we received an invitation to join the ACC, Pitt not only had the chance to move to an outstanding athletic conference but also became aligned with some of the nation’s most prestigious academic institutions. The ACC is a perfect fit for the University of Pittsburgh, and our receipt of their invitation reflects well on both our overall institutional strength and on the tremendous progress made in Pitt athletics under Steve’s guidance.
“As we begin this exciting new era of ACC competition, we all have high aspirations for each of our programs. The creativity, strength and stability of Steve’s continued leadership will be an important asset as we pursue those lofty goals.”
Pederson has his flaws for sure and I'm all for criticizing him when he doesn't do the right thing. But it's impossible to overlook the good that he's done, too.