When the University of Pittsburgh held their news conference announcing that Miami of Ohio Coach Michael Haywood would be their new coach, the reaction was pretty much the same: “Michael who?” Most people, actually 99% of Pittsburgh fans had no idea who this man was and instantly the negative comments came out about not being able to sign the big Coach, when in actuality the only big Coach on the market was Mike Leach, who let’s be honest, wasn’t coming to Pitt. Instead of giving Haywood a chance, it was nothing but bashing. Haywood recently announced that none of Dave Wannstedt’s Assistant Coaches will be retained on his staff. It’s a new regime in Oakland, isn’t that what everyone was calling for? So who is this guy? I’ll try to help you get to know him a little better.
Haywood played his College ball at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz and has been praised up and down by Holtz. He was an assistant at programs such as Texas, LSU and Notre Dame. As mentioned, he most recently Coached at Miami of Ohio where he went 1-11 in his first year. The bright side is that he won the MAC Championship with a 8-4 record this year. For all of you Math experts, that’s a 7 game differential over the course of one season. Let’s not get carried away, the MAC doesn’t have the same talent as the Big East (though this year, that could be up for debate), but the CEO type coaching style that he has makes him a good fit for the program. Haywood said when asked what kind of offense he runs, he described it as a mixture of the spread and pro style, kind of like the Patriots. As long as he was referring to the New England version and not the George Mason version, then that excites me. When he was announced as the Coach, there were 3 things that stuck out to me at the news conference.
1. Athletic Director Steve Peterson made it a point to say that he interviewed five Head Coaches for the position. It was interesting he said that to deflect the thought that Dana Holgorsen, who was thought of as a front runner for the position who surprisingly took the same position at West Virginia, spurred them.
2. When Haywood was asked if he was contacted by the Mountaineers, he hesitated momentarily, before answering yes. It makes me wonder if he wanted the job at WVU and the school said no or if he thought the opportunity at Pitt was far greater?
3. Not one time did the subject of winning ball games come up with the media. We know he is a great leader and motivator from his YouTube video (Michael Haywood Pregame Speech), but he never said what he viewed Pitt as. Does he think this is a program that needs a rebuilding? Or is it simply a program that has the talent, but just needs the direction and the person to right the ship? I believe the latter.
Haywood may not have been who everyone wanted, but it isn’t fair to criticize or praise the Coach that we haven’t seen do anything yet. The people who say Peterson hired the next Bill Callahan, will be the same ones to say that they knew he could do it and Peterson made a great move if they win. He isn’t a name that will sell tickets, but he has the chance to become one. Ask Cincinnati what a MAC Coach did for their program in Brian Kelly or Jim Tressel for Ohio State. Peterson made mistake in Callahan but I think he learned his lesson. He’s the guy who brought in Walt Harris to bring a program back to life that had talks of being removed. Jamie Dixon is here because of Peterson, not to mention his mentor Ben Howland before him. Give the guy a chance to Coach because like it or not, he will be here at least 4 years. With Wannstedt and Haywood both on payroll making $1 Million a year, there is no chance of another Coach being added to that. Welcome Coach Haywood and if you learn one thing going into your first season, remember Hail To Pitt.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com