Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Haywood- Not an Upgrade

By Chris Dokish

Sadly it looks like Pitt's athletic director, Steve Pederson, and Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, once again failed in their latest golden opportunity to move the program to a higher level.

That's not to say that Haywood won't win at Pitt. Nobody knows how well he will do, or how awful he will do, until it happens. But he is not a hire that makes sense, and it clearly shows one of two things. One, Pederson and Nordenberg have no idea what they're doing. Or, two, they are cheap. Either way, this hiring should tell fans that winning big is not the goal of the University of Pittsburgh.

Why so down on Haywood? His resume may look good at first glance. He played at Notre Dame, and coached there, as well as Texas and LSU. He was the offensive coordinator at his alma mater under Charlie Weis. But look closer and see that he lost his play calling duties at Notre Dame. In 2007 he applied for the job at Houston but lost the job to Kevin Sumlin. The second choice was reportedly then 71-year Jack Pardee. He was also considered for the Northern Illinois job the same year, but they instead hired Jerry Kill. This season Haywood interviewed for the Minnesota job and lost out to Kill again. He also interviewed in the past for the job at Washington, where Steve Sarkisian was eventually hired, but according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer he was considered "just a peripheral candidate". He was recently mentioned for jobs at Indiana and Vanderbilt, but both schools decided to go elsewhere.

Eventually the soon to be 47-year old got hired by Miami where he started 1-11 then followed it up with a 9-4 record this year. That is obviously an amazing turn around that gets him much deserved applause. But one good year from a lifelong assistant does not make a big time coach. Turner Gill did a similar turnaround at Buffalo yet went 3-9 this season at Kansas.

Even Miami fans are stunned that Pitt would want a guy who has done so little. One look at their message board shows incredulous posts a week ago when their coach was first mentioned as a possible Pitt. A sampling of posts include:

"No university job worth taking (and Pitt is a job worth taking) is going to commit to a coach who has only been a head coach for two years, one of which was an 1-11 season. Haywood just doesn't have the resume yet."

"Haywood seems to be a rising star at this point, but Pitt isn't looking to grab a coach who has 10-15 career record and has finished last in his conference half the years he has been a coach."

"No offense to Haywood, I think he is good on the way to being great, but a big time program hiring him at this point in time would look like an act of desperation. 10-15, two years as a head coach, won a championship (which I don't want to cheapen). But, part of the truth of this season is that we were four or five plays away from under .500 on the year (Akron, Kent, BG. CMU..even Eastern had a lead on us in the 3rd quarter)."

"Think of it the other way and that this was a Pitt board. I would be furious if we hired a guy whose career record was 10-15 and got all his power taken away by Charlie Weis. Honestly, they are better than this (at least right now)."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement and these are from the fans who love him. When they can't even fathom why Pitt would make this hire, how are Pitt fans supposed to take it?

It's no secret that I thought Pitt could do better than Dave Wannstedt. Wannstedt was a great guy and to be honest, he was also a good coach. He just wasn't a great coach. Apparently Pitt thought the same thing. We know the administration did not get rid of Wannstedt because of his personality. They got rid of him because they thought they could do better on the field, which means more money.

So my question is this. Does Haygood mean more success, both on the field and in the bank account? I don't see how any reasonable person could say that. At best he is Wannstedt and if that's the case then they should have just kept Wannstedt.

Bottom line, Haywood may be a good person and may be a good college coach. But while he may look good in a suit and he talks like the educated man he is, West Virginia paid 2 million dollars a year to a crazy offensive genius who will probably lead them to many blowout wins and Big East championships. Once again Pitt had the chance to spend the money to get a great coach, Holgorsen or somebody else. Once again they chose the safe, cheap route. And once again they will probably be asked "why can't you be an elite program?" They will find the answer when they look in the mirror.


At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must take issue with you, Wanny is a very mediocre coach, he isn't good. A good coach would have beat the Bowling Green's, Ohio's and N C State's of the world.

You get what you pay for, I'm sure Haywood will be the lowest paid coach in the Big East for 2011.

Only time will tell how this decision will work out.

If Stevie P screws this one up maybe he will be looking for employment.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Jester said...

This diatribe means squat as it is coming from the guy who mentioned John Fox, Marvin Lewis and Bronco Mendenhall as candidates for the Pitt job.

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

The list I had were not guys I wanted. They were guys I could see Pitt wanting. And any man who hires Bill Callahan could hire Fox or Lewis. As for Mendenhall he is considered one of the best coaches in the country and makes less than 1 million dollars a year. He was actually the perfect candidate.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger GMoney said...

Hey! One of those MHT quotes is mine!!!


At 1:50 PM, Blogger The Hammer said...

You are using a Miami message board to back up your article? Are you joking? Ridiculous.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Nice article.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger patriot9 said...

If they commit this atrocity they should all be fired and Pitt should just close down their football program. Wannstedt was at least a decent coach. To hire a nobody from nowhere is just hideous.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Tony77019 said...

Doak - you hit the nail on the head. Just what I feared. I think Pederson is a big part of the problem.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Tony D said...

It's simply way too early to know for sure how well Haywood would do. If he's a better X's and O's man than Wannstedt then he should probably do better because the cupboard is apparently stocked. Every legendary coach had to start someplace. If I remember correctly, Mike Tomlin was a defensive coordinator for one season before he became head coach. I think he turned out okay.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

Tomlin was the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, meaning he was considered a very accomplished coach. Just because people in Pittsburgh never heard of him that doesn't mean he wasn't considered a major talent. I've yet to hear anybody call Haywood a major talent.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Whistle Pig said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Whistle Pig said...

I've said essentially the same. The chronic decades of mediocrity has virtually nothing to do with Pitt's long and growing list of coaches effectively dead-ended by taking the Pitt post and trying to change the spots on the Pitt Panther. They can't and won't. Only Pitt leaders can do that. And you've nailed that peg squarely. Boats can only rise as high as the tide takes them. In this case, Pitt's waiting and waiting and waiting for its high tide to rise. And until it does? Forget the pigskin-ship coming in.

This is a Pitt issue; not who's running and ranting on the sidelines. And sadly, a longtime graveyard of good men with dreams of becoming great coaches. Not at Pitt. And lastly, failing to hire a died-in-success coach is both chicken-and-egg. In other words, those not desperate for a BCS shot would not consider this, to use the double negative. Said another way, hot, viable candidates have better shots ...and the reason they're hot is measured success that results usually from being able to evaluate both his own talent and the enemy. And those hot-shots realize that beyond a shot and a momentary pay day, Pitt could all to soon, become his/their enemy.

Spots on the Pitt Panther ...

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I looked into Haywood this afternoon and seriously, if he is hired you have to give him a few years, he cannot be any worse than Wanny, Wanny was one of the worst game day coaches ever, the same strategy week in and week out, very few adjustments.

My question to you is, do you think Wanny could have taken a down-trodden, lame Miami team who were bottom of the sea dwellers and turn it completely around in 2 years and win the Mac championship!

Wanny took a bcs team from Walt that had some talent and kept it out of a bowl game for his first three years!

I think Haywood might not be the second coming of Urban Meyer but he is an upgrade.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

To be honest, Joe, for me it doesn't matter if Wannstedt could have done it. The only question I have is if Haywood could do better at Pitt. Having one year when you exceed expectations is not good enough for me. Especially when a lot of those wins came against poor teams and the offense was so anemic. I think it's very possible that Miami's season was an anomaly.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger ak said...

Mike is a good choice by Pitt. He was well liked, and respected at Notre Dame by the players and fans. I watched him several times on the sideline at ND games, and always said, 'wouldn't it great if he could eventually be ND coach'. His enthusiasm is contagious! Everyone associated with ND wishes him well and g real success, 11-1 of course.

Pittsburgh PA

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Charles said...

There is a big world out there, but some people in Pittsburgh believe that white people are the only people that are capable. The alumni that matters, the press, and the market that matter comprise a sick culture.

I read between the lines and see the Pitt football community demands and is satisfied if the QB is a white guy from the surrounding area; then, a white guy in general; and heaven forbid someone other than white. Oh my!

Question why was Tyler Palko above Joe Flacco on the depth chart? Where the hell is Tyler Palko now?

As a head coach on all levels, Dave Wannestadt had a losing track record, it's sad that the portion of Pitt fans that matter would be willing to see the ship sink just because it their kind of Pittsburgh guy.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

Race has nothing to do with it. Winning is all that counts and if he wins more than Wannstedt then he will be a success. If he doesn't then he will get drummed out of there just like a lot of other Pitt coaches.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Whistle Pig said...

Amen, Chris. There is no affirmative action in athletics, no matter what Rooney and his committee might have been charged. That is ancient history, a dog that won't hunt anymore. At least when W's & L's are the manner of keeping score.

Now, irresponsible or inappropriate behaviors are different matters.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Charles said...

Chris and Whistle Pig that is the dumbest comments are this post-grow up. No need to cover up the obvious. Why are people dogging the man with illogical arguments before he even performs?

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

There are a lot of reasons to think he will fail. I think Kevin Sumlin, an African American, and Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, a Cuban American, were better candidates and neither are white. So like I said, race has nothing to do with it.


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