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Pitt makes it official: Wannstedt ‘resigns’ as head coach

(Wink wink. Nudge nudge.)

Pittsburgh made official what was reported a little earlier today, albeit with a slightly different spin.

Per the school in a press release, Dave Wannstedt “resigned” as the Panthers’ head coach. According to the school, Wannstedt “informed” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson of “his” “decision” Tuesday.

“The past six years have been among the most gratifying of my entire career,” said Wannstedt, a 1974 graduate of Pitt and former standout offensive tackle for the Panthers. “To be the head coach at my university was the realization of a lifelong dream. It has been an honor and privilege to serve Pitt and its football program.

“I’ve always told our players that the University of Pittsburgh will mean more to them than just four years of school and football. It will influence and inspire everything they do long after their last class and final game. I know that firsthand. I owe so much of my life to the education and experiences I had here. Pitt has always been, and will continue to be, an incredibly special place for my family and me.”

“On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh, I’d like to thank Coach Wannstedt for his passionate and committed service the past six years,” Pederson said. “This has never been just a job for Dave. He is wholeheartedly committed to Pitt and its people. We are greatly appreciative of his efforts to build a strong program on and off the field.”

Wannstedt, the school said, will remain at Pitt in the capacity of special assistant to the athletic director.

In six years at the school, Wannstedt compiled a 42-31 record over all and 24-18 in conference play. After going bowl-less his first three seasons, his Panthers had qualified for postseason games the past three years. This year was his only Big East champiosnhip, although it was a co-championship shared with UConn -- the conference’s representative in the BcS bowls -- and West Virginia.

It’s unclear who will coach the Panthers in the BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 8.

With Wannstedt’s “resignation”, there are now seven Div. 1-A programs searching for a new head coach: Miami, Vanderbilt, Ball State, Kent State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Northern Illinois and Pittsburgh.

UPDATED 6:14 p.m. ET: We’ve been informed that offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. is expected to take over the reins of the team through the allotted bowl practices and into the bowl game while the search for a permanent head coach is ongoing.