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.