Dean follows Wannstedt's lead
Dave Wannstedt has garnered plenty of attention for "going back to school" -- leaving the NFL coaching ranks and returning to coach at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. Coincidentally, Wannstedt's return caused another local coach to step back and return to his coaching roots.
Wannstedt did not retain Pitt recruiting coordinator and assistant coach Bryan Deal, leaving him temporarily jobless. But instead of seeking another job in college ranks, Deal applied for a head coaching position on the high school level and soon accepted the top job at Fox Chapel.
"Why go back?" Deal said. "Because you love it."
Before coming to Pitt, Deal spent 19 years coaching talented high school teams in Ohio. He says the transition has been relatively easy for him. So, what's the greatest change in the prep game since he coached eight years ago•
"Demands on the kids have increased during the summer," he said. "You have to spend more time in the off-season lifting and holding camps to be competitive."
He said off-season workouts rules are much more lenient in western Pennsylvania than in Ohio.
Deal believes high school coaching offers him more flexibility -- and more of a home life -- than his job.
"No more 100-hour weeks," he said. "In high school, I'm a full-time teacher and full time coach, and I'm done before 7:30 p.m. and home by 10 p.m."
Deal may have to put more hours into his new job. He faces a formidable task at Fox Chapel. The Foxes are 1-22 over the past three years. The entire program --grades 7-12 -- won just one game last fall. Deal wants to make Fox Chapel football an "event."
"There's no reason we can't be like Mt. Lebanon and Upper St Clair -- suburban schools with high academics and a good level of athletics," he said. "There's no reason we can't get the right kids out for the football team and make it the in-thing to do."
So what's Deal's game plan for changing the losing attitude at Fox Chapel•
Andrew Stockey is the sports director for WTAE-TV and host of "Operation Football" which airs Friday nights at 11:15pm on Channel 4.