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After all the reports and partial confirmations, it’s now official – Michael Haywood is Pitt’s next head football coach.
Haywood will bring some fire and will look to breathe some new life into a program that’s been consistent over the past few seasons, but not spectacular. Many Pitt fans may not be sold on the move, but it’s the opinion of Steve Pederson that matters. And he obviously is pleased with Haywood:
“From my very first meeting with Michael Haywood, it was obvious that the qualities he exhibited were in line with the values of this great University,” Pederson said. “Michael has tremendous pedigree, having been mentored by some of the very best coaches in the game. His history at outstanding programs with outstanding coaches gave him a rare combination of experiences and background. Most importantly, Michael is a man of character and integrity and will be an inspirational leader for our football program.”
Approximately 24 hours later after the news had started to break and it’s still a tough sell for me at this point. The Haywood hire strikes me as one that would be made after several candidates already turned down the job.
One thing I’ll say for Pederson is that this is clearly not a safe hire. He’s going out on a limb a bit with this one, considering Haywood doesn’t have a great track record of success as a coordinator or head coach. While this move may not cost Pederson his job if it doesn’t work out, it’s easy to argue that it should.
ESPN.com reports that Michael Haywood broke the news of his departure to his Miami-Ohio players last night at a late evening meeting after he was in Pittsburgh during the day:
Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood, known for his fiery speeches and CEO-like leadership skills, has been chosen by Pitt to succeed Dave Wannstedt as coach.
Haywood, 10-15 in two seasons in the Mid-American Conference, held a series of meetings on campus Wednesday with Pitt officials — some of which were spotted by students. He then returned to Oxford, Ohio, where he broke the news to Miami’s players at a late-night meeting.
No word on how the players took it, but these things are typically never easy.
The article also mentions that Miami of Ohio will be facing Middle Tennessee in the GoDaddy.com Bowl and that Haywood is unlikely to coach the team in that game. That hasn’t been confirmed and it’s not known who will coach the team if Haywood does not.
As mentioned earlier, Haywood is expected to be named as the Pitt coach at a 4:00 p.m. news conference.
Pittsburgh has called a news conference for 4 p.m. ET Thursday to introduce Mike Haywood as its next head coach.
Haywood spent two years at Miami (Ohio), going 9-4 and winning the MAC title this year after going 1-11 in his first year as a head coach.
I’ve said it over at Cardiac Hill repeatedly, but this is a hire I have a hard time getting excited about. While it may turn out to be a good hire down the line, this is a far cry from an obvious upgrade over Dave Wannstedt.
There are no sure things in coaching, but I would have preferred Pitt to go after someone with more of a track record than a coach who essentially has a single good season in the MAC under his belt. Haywood has worked at other big name programs such as Notre Dame, Texas, and LSU, but mostly only as a running backs coach. His experience as an offensive coordinator at Notre Dame is questionable as Charlie Weis was there as the head coach and likely assisted Haywood to some degree.
Time will tell.
As reported, Pitt has named former Miami (Ohio) head coach Michael Haywood to lead the charge after the displaced Dave Wannstedt recently stepped down. Many of the Pitt faithful were surprised at this hire, while others are somewhat furious at this hire. However, with no BCS-level head coaching experience, what Michael Haywood mostly represents is an unknown:
I wish I could tell you this was a "can't miss" hire or a "star in the ranks" kind of coach, I can't because I don't know how this is going to turn out. He could turn out to be a star - he could turn out to be a dud, as well. Nobody knows, not the people that hired him and not even he does.
So where did Michael Haywood come from, and what are his qualifications?
Haywood was born in Houston and is currently 46 years old. He attended college and played football at Notre Dame in the mid-1980's. Since then, and including his new Pitt position, Haywood has coached at nine different collegiate programs:
1988 - graduate assistant, Minnesota
1989-1990 - assistant coach, Army
1991-1992 - assistant coach, Ohio
1993-1994 - assistant coach, Ball State
1995 - 2002 - assistant coach, LSU
2003-2004 - assistant coach, Texas
2005-2008 - offensive coordinator, Notre Dame
2009-2010 - head coach, Miami (Ohio)
The big names that stand out are the LSU, Texas, and Notre Dame positions. Haywood had a string of relatively unfortunate luck, as he left both LSU and Texas one year before their respective championship runs in 2003 and 2005, but the experience obtained in those positions is valuable to success in the Big East. The Notre Dame job may be misleading to some, though, as it was widely known that Charlie Weis, then Notre Dame's head coach, was the main offensive playcaller.
Haywood already has a full list of duties, not the least of which is to stop the bleeding in his 2011 recruiting class. Some players have begun looking elsewhere in their recruitment after verbally committing to Pitt, including now Penn State commit, Ben Kline.
Ladies and gentlemen, your new Pitt head football coach, Michael Haywood.
ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that Pitt has in fact hired Miami (OH) coach Michael Haywood to replace Dave Wannstedt as Panthers head coach.
Haywood went 9-15 in two seasons at Miami, however, that record did include a turnaround from 1-11 in 2009 to 9-4 and a MAC championship in 2010. He is a native of Houston and a 1986 graduate of Notre Dame. He served as offensive coordinator and running backs coach in South Bend from 2005 to 2008 before taking the Miami job.
At the time of his hiring at Miami, some prominent college football personalities had high praise for the 46-year-old.
Texas coach Mack Brown: "Mike is a perfect hire. He has earned the right to be a head coach with his great work at places like Texas, Notre Dame and LSU. He's a great recruiter, respects the game, and is the kind of young person we need in college athletics."
Gerry Faust, former Notre Dame head coach: "Miami University is the 'cradle' of college coaches, and I've known most of them. Mike Haywood is the combination of all of them. I'm confident that he will earn his way into their legendary company."
Stay tuned for more on this developing story.
A source tells SB Nation Pittsburgh that Miami (OH) head coach Michael Haywood was spotted at the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland this afternoon around 1:00 Eastern with university chancellor Mark Nordenberg and athletic director Steve Pederson.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported this morning that Haywood was expected to meet with the Pitt brass, and it appears as if he has now.
Haywood led Miami to a 9-4 record and a MAC championship this season after the team went 1-11 in 2009. The RedHawks defeated No. 24 Northern Illinois in the Marathon MAC Championship at Ford Field in Detroit a couple of weeks ago.
Miami's only MAC loss came to Ohio on October 23. The other three came to Florida, Missouri and Cincinnati in the non-conference schedule. Haywood has spent time at several big programs including Notre Dame, Texas and Louisiana State.
Haywood would become Pitt's first African-American head football coach.
Reports surfaced that Pitt had possibly found its next head coach in Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Those reports, however, appear to be false as Holgorsen is likely moving to West Virginia to serve as an offensive coordinator for one season and then replace Bill Stewart in 2012.
Holgorsen was the toast of the town and with good reason. He had run some of the most successful offenses in the country at Oklahoma State and, previously, Texas Tech.
So with Holgorsen now off the board, what’s next for Pitt? Well, as Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, it could be Miami of Ohio’s Michael Haywood. Seriously.
Haywood led Miami to the MAC title this season with a 9-4 record. He was also previously the Notre Dame offensive coordinator.
While this could turn out to be a good hire, I’m a bit skeptical. I’ll get more into this later if it turns out to be true, but I still believe that Tom Bradley would be a better fit.
So we’ve all see the names being thrown out there as possible replacements for Dave Wannstedt at Pitt. Paul Zeise of the Post-Gazette comments that Pitt has reached out to some coaches and others have contacted Pitt about the vacancy.
Pitt has reportedly had preliminary contact with Temple head coach Al Golden and Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.
For his part, Holgorsen says he’s had no communications with Pitt. But he also had no comment about if he had contact with the school through a third party:
Reached by telephone on Thursday, Holgorsen said he had no dialogue with anyone at Texas and has not spoken with anyone representing Pitt.
“That’s what you should write because it’s true. Go ahead,” Holgorsen said. “I’m recruiting in Houston, Texas, on behalf of Oklahoma State.”
Later Thursday, Holgorsen indicated in a text message that he is not represented by an agent. When asked in a subsequent text message whether he had been represented by any third party in a discussion with Pitt, Holgorsen did not respond.
Zeise is generally pretty accurate and if I had to, I’d lean towards believing him. He also says several candidates have reached out to Pitt including Mark Stoops, Tom Bradley, Sal Sunseri, and Teryl Austin.
Dave Wannstedt was given the option of coaching Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl and, according to defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, he’ll do just that:
“He’s just doing some details right now,” Bennett told reporters in Birmingham at a bowl news conference. “The plan is he will coach the game, be down here and then go into his role in the administration.”
Bennett, who represented Pitt at the media event, said it wasn’t an easy decision for Wannstedt to agree to coach one more game.
“He looked at some things and just thought the opportunity was too good to pass up at this time,” he said.
Wannstedt hasn’t yet made his decision known to Pitt’s athletic department, but it sounds as if he’s expecting to coach the team in its bowl game against the Kentucky Wildcats.
As expected, with Dave Wannstedt’s resignation, recruits who have given verbal commitments may be wavering. One recruit, Desimon Green, says he’s defeinitely considering looking around and has rescinded his commitment:
That news has made Green decide to rescind his verbal commitment.
“He was one of the main reasons I went there,” Green said of Wannstedt. “I was already wavering. I wasn’t sure. But this made it clear.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end chose Pitt over offers from Texas Tech, Michigan and Michigan State, among others.
“Everybody’s got to do what’s best for them,” Green said.
Another, Lafayette Pitts, says his decision may hinge on if Pitt keeps its assistants:
Woodland Hills’ Lafayette Pitts, a defensive back, said yesterday that he will remain committed to Pitt — for now.
“I’m trying to wait and see what happens with the rest of the coaches,” Pitts said. “As of right now, I’m still going to Pitt, until I get more information.”
The key for Pitts will be whether the assistant coaches are retained.
“If they stick around, I’ll stick around,” he said.
This is, of course, no surprise. Wannstedt’s known as a great recruiter and he develops good relationships with players. Whenever any coach leaves, it’s likely that all recruits won’t be retained. But in Pitt’s case, it could lose more players than normal.
All the more reason that the team needs to find a replacement in short order.
The early lists of possible football head coaching candidates are starting to surface. Some names are predictable, while others are not.
Tom Bradley (Penn State defensive coordinator) – Bradley actually does have some Pitt roots as his father played basketball at the school, but make no mistake – he’s a Penn State guy. Could I see it happening? Sure. But I could also see him leaving if the PSU job opened up down the line.
Frank Cignetti (Pitt offensive coordinator) - The luster has worn off of Cignetti a bit since last season, but he’s still probably the in-house person with the best shot at landing the job.
Dana Holgorsen (Oklahoma State offensive coordinator) – Three words…offense, offense, offense
Sal Sunseri (Alabama linebackers coach) - Former Pitt player, former Pitt coach, son is current Pitt QB. If you’re looking for a ‘Pitt guy,’ this might be as close as you come.
Mike Leach (Former Texas Tech head coach) - I really don’t see this happening as he had issues with bosses at his last job.
Paul Rhoads (Iowa State head coach) – Former Pitt defensive coordinator that was the target of many fans. Had some good defensive units, but I think the Wannstedt move was made, in part, to fan outcry. Hiring Rhodes would bring more of the same.
Al Golden (Temple head coach) - Eyes towards Penn State. Even if he would come to Pitt, not sure they’d want to risk the embarrassment of eventually losing to the Lions.
Any number of non-BCS head coaches – The list of ‘breakout’ guys or guys that have had success already (i.e. Chris Petersen at Boise State) is long. Too long to digest.
Whatever direction Pitt goes, one thing is certain. There are going to be plenty of quality options.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dave Wannstedt will reportedly have the option to coach Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl Game in January.
Pederson said Wannstedt will have the option to coach the Panthers in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 8 but no decision has been made yet.
Unlike Wannstedt’s ‘decision’ to resign, I actually believe Pederson when he says he’ll have the opportunity to coach in the game. And if that’s the case, I fully expect him to.
Dave Wannstedt’s resignation is official and he’s now commented on the situation:
“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.”
According to the Pitt website, Wannstedt will stay on as an Assistant to the Athletic Director.
I’ve been one of the few supporters for Wannstedt to remain on, largely because of his increased success in recruiting and his track record over the past two seasons when Pitt has had it’s most successful stint in approximately 30 years.
ESPN's Big East Blog is reporting that Dave Wannstedt will remain part of the Pitt athletic department in a non-coaching role.
Wannstedt is widely viewed as a solid recruiter at Pitt, as he put together several nice classes for the Panthers in his six seasons with them. Remaining with the athletic department will allow him to continue working with potential Pitt recruits and offering them his professional credentials when they consider the university.
The former coach's final win-loss record at Pitt stands at 42-31, and 24-18 in Big East play. He also went 1-1 in bowl games. The Panthers lost their first bowl appearance under Wannstedt in 2008 when they lost 3-0 to Oregon State in the Sun Bowl. Last season, however, Wannstedt picked up a win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, which gave Pitt its first 10-win season in over 20 years.
Wannstedt was given a contract extension this past March to coach through 2014. O and in case you were wondering, Wikipedia has already given Dave the boot, too.
Rumors began swirling this morning, but media outlets across the spectrum now report that Dave Wannstedt has been fired and will not return as Pitt's head coach in 2011.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Paul Zeise reports that Pitt defensive line coach Greg Gattuso has confirmed the firing and that the Pitt coaches were given the news this afternoon.
The university has not commented on the matter yet, or who the interim coach will be, though there have been rumblings that offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti will take over for the time being. It's possible that a new coach could be in place by the time Pitt takes on Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl on January 8.
ESPN's Joe Schad is also reporting the firing.
Pitt was expected to win the Big East conference this season, which it technically did by sharing the title with conference BCS representative Connecticut and rival West Virginia, but after a 7-5 regular-season finish, many were not pleased following a 10-3 season in 2009.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh for further updates.
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