New head coach Carl DePasqua placed one of Pitt's largest teams on the field. DePasqua had represented the Panthers as a back from 1946 through ’49 well enough to be drafted by the Steelers in 1950. He returned to Pitt as Michelosen’s assistant and saw his coaching career peak in 1966 as he led Waynesburg College to the NAIA/National Small College Championship with an 11-0 record in his first season there. He then went to the Steelers as their defensive line coach before taking on the task of reviving his alma mater's football program. DePasqua also had worked in the pizza business, earning him the moniker of “The Pizza King” among his players. He wasn’t at all put off by the fact that at least four other “name” coaches had refused Pitt’s definite offers to become their head coach and that at best, he was the administration’s fifth choice. He stated that he had “no doubt that this would be a five year rebuilding project” and received a five year contract to get the job done. He dressed up the Old gold helmet that he inherited from the ’68 squad, adding a white one-inch center stripe, one-half-inch Old gold flanking stripes, and one-half-inch Navy blue flanking stripes for an updated appearance. One-and-one-half-inch white player identification numerals were placed on the rear of the helmet and like many other schools, Pitt displayed the blue with red numeral outline 100 Year Of College Football commemorative decal on the right side of the helmet. His debut was rocky, a 42-8 loss to UCLA but the squad rebounded. The 4-6 improvement was due primarily to the defense, a large, strong unit led by redshirt linebacker Ralph Cindrich, 234-pound defensive end Lloyd Weston, and DB Charlie Hall. The offense still had quarterback problems with Dave Havern getting lots of time and both Denny Ferris and Tony Esposito as the main ball carriers with Espositio gaining 743 yards, the best Pitt effort since 1952. Ferris flashed brilliantly scoring four touchdowns against Navy. There was still some Pitt "bad luck" going around as a fourth-down punt late in the final game against Penn State went straight up in the air and landed on the line of scrimmage, not that it would have altered the 27-7 final score.
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