5-6 overall, 4-3 conference, 5th Big East
Against the spread
5-5 (4-1 home, 1-4 away, 4-4 grass)
6-4 (4-1 home, 2-3 away, 5-3 grass)
-.36 per game
2005 Season Summary
The Pittsburgh Panthers were coming off one of the most unusual, yet successful, seasons that any college football program has had in recent memory.
Ignited after the coaching controversy became public
Pitt started off 2004 in most uninspiring 2-2 fashion, looking meek in the process. Then, in the week leading up to their game against Boston College , the story broke in the papers that head coach Walt Harris was not happy with his contract, and Harris' agent basically gave a public ultimatum to the Pitt administration through the media. As it turned out, the Panthers would be ignited after the coaching controversy became public as they came out of nowhere to go 5-1 both straight up and against the spread to wind up taking the Big East championship and the BCS bowl berth that went with it. By the time the Fiesta Bowl game against Utah took place, Harris had resigned to take the Stanford job and Pitt sent him off with a 7-35 loss as 15.5-point dogs against Utah .
Enter Dave Wannstedt
The Harris debacle left a bad taste in nearly everyone's mouth and the Pitt administration went looking for someone with roots to the school, someone who could unite the community in the exact opposite way that Harris could not. They found their man in former Dave Wannstedt, former head coach of the NFL's Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins and a former player at Pitt. Wannstedt was often much maligned as an NFL head man, but he also took both of his teams to the playoffs and he had an overall winning record at Miami although he resigned under fire.
Optimism quickly turned to skepticism
The hiring of Wannstedt seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for Pitt as the community seemed happy about “one of their own” leading the program and the direct and up front Wannstedt was a refreshing contrast to the odd Harris.
Pitt would open the Wannstedt era at home against Notre Dame and their new coach, Charlie Weiss, on national television as 3-point chalks in front of a sellout crowd, only to fall flat on their face in a 21-42 loss in which Weiss clearly embarrassed Wannstedt with his elaborate offense that made Pitt look like they operated out of the stone age.
Next was another national TV game at lightly regarded Ohio on a Monday Night. Pitt was humiliated in a 10-16-overtime loss as 14.5-point chalks as optimism turned to skepticism in Pittsburgh and the multitudes of Wannstedt detractors were having a large laugh.
Written off for good
Pitt next traveled to Nebraska to face another program that was struggling at the time. Pitt was a 9-point dog and TWICE botched a last second field goal in a 6-7 loss. Pitt was written off for good standing at 0-3 straight up.
The Panthers hit rock bottom
The Panthers next took out their frustrations on 1-AA Youngstown State in a 41-0 win that was not on the board. Next was a 29-37 loss at resurgent Rutgers as 2.5-point dogs as the Panthers hit rock bottom at 1-4 straight up and 1-3 against the spread.
Pitt climbed back to reach .500 and bowl contention
With their fans and the local media having abandoned them, Pitt returned home for a three-game home stand. They first clobbered Cincinnati 38-20 as 15-point chalks. They followed that up with a 31-17 win over upstart South Florida as 1-point chalks and completed a home sweep with a 34-17 win over Syracuse as 11-point chalks. Out of nowhere, Pitt climbed back to reach .500 and bowl contention.
Outclassed and out of gas
Pitt next traveled to Big East chalk Louisville , where they lost 20-42 as 20.5-point dogs. Senior Day was a 24-0 win over Connecticut as 10-point chalks which was followed up by a 13-45 debacle at West Virginia as 15-point dogs as Pitt proved to be outclassed and out of gas in down the stretch.