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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Haywood to become new Pitt coach

By Chris Dokish

People see what they want to see so just so there are no future comments directed my way if Haywood wins 9 or 10 games in the upcoming season or any future seasons, let me repeat that I have no idea if Haywood will reach that win total and I hope he does. I would love nothing more than to see Haywood succeed and bring Pitt to the heights I think they have in them.

The Panthers next season will have a veteran team and Haywood runs an offense and a defense similar enough to Dave Wannstedt that he very well could have a 9 or 10 win season next year. And there's no reason to hound me after every win with snide comments about how wrong I was. I will be the first to admit it if Haywood turns Pitt into a power, and I will be happy to do so.

But that's what it comes down to. Getting Pitt to elite status. That's the only reason to fire/let Wannstedt "resign" in the first place. And, in my opinion, that will take a special coach to move Pitt into that top 10 category. Of course Haywood may be able to do that. I just don't see it. That doesn't mean he won't average 8 or 9 wins a year, but the goal has to be a top 10 team if only for a few years. That's what happened at West Virginia and that's what happened at Cincinnati. And if Pitt can't afford such a coach then don't fire Wannstedt. Here's hoping I'm wrong and Pitt will have a couple of elite teams with Haywood because it's about time that Pitt lived up to their potential, at least for a little while.

14 Comments:

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Jim Lakely said...

No one has offered better commentary on this coaching search than you, Chris. And I, too, share your trepidation. I had my heart set on Holgorsen, or (probably even better) Mike Leach to get the job. But Pitt fans obviously must give Hayward a fair chance -- which Pittsburgh sports fans should be more than prepared to give.

Ask Steeler fans today if they thought this was a good idea in January 2007: Handing one of the NFL's premiere franchises over to an unproven, vagabond assistant coach in his 30s who never coached at a high-level college program, had exactly ONE YEAR of coordinator-level experience in the NFL, and ZERO playing experience in the league. Mike Tomlin came in with a pretty thin resume — especially for a job as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, Tomlin has already won a Super Bowl and has kept the team near or among the elite every year. Aside from that, he's a man of such strong character that all fans of the Steelers can be proud of him and the franchise -- even in "down" years.

That said, you are 100 percent right in your evaluation of this situation for Pitt. The standard now is: Can Pitt do better than what they had under Wannstedt -- tying for Big East titles (meaningless), losing games they should win (which keeps them out of the Top 15), not completely flopping in "big games" in front of key recruits and on national TV. (I don't think I'll ever forget how embarrassing that disastrous Sun Bowl game last year was.) In short, will Haywood make Pitt MATTER in the national conversation/BCS discussion -- at least from time to time. Wanny, God love him (and all Pitt fans should, too), didn't do that in six years at the helm. Even if Haywood holds serve on the Pitt program, we can try again in another six years.

I attended Pitt at the end of the Gottfried era and through the disastrous Hackett regime. (As managing editor of The Pitt News, I approved the headline: "Couldn't Hackett" when he was fired.) I refer to my time at Pitt as the "dark ages" of the school's athletics. I, for one, will be hopeful and patient with the new regime.

 
At 10:09 PM, Blogger Jim Lakely said...

No one has offered better commentary on this coaching search than you, Chris. And I, too, share your trepidation. I had my heart set on Holgorsen, or (probably even better) Mike Leach to get the job. But Pitt fans obviously must give Hayward a fair chance -- which Pittsburgh sports fans should be more than prepared to give.

Ask Steeler fans today if they thought this was a good idea in January 2007: Handing one of the NFL's premiere franchises over to an unproven, vagabond assistant coach in his 30s who never coached at a high-level college program, had exactly ONE YEAR of coordinator-level experience in the NFL, and ZERO playing experience in the league. Mike Tomlin came in with a pretty thin resume — especially for a job as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, Tomlin has already won a Super Bowl and has kept the team near or among the elite every year. Aside from that, he's a man of such strong character that all fans of the Steelers can be proud of him and the franchise -- even in "down" years.

That said, you are 100 percent right in your evaluation of this situation for Pitt. The standard now is: Can Pitt do better than what they had under Wannstedt -- tying for Big East titles (meaningless), losing games they should win (which keeps them out of the Top 15), not completely flopping in "big games" in front of key recruits and on national TV. (I don't think I'll ever forget how embarrassing that disastrous Sun Bowl game last year was.) In short, will Haywood make Pitt MATTER in the national conversation/BCS discussion -- at least from time to time. Wanny, God love him (and all Pitt fans should, too), didn't do that in six years at the helm. Even if Haywood holds serve on the Pitt program, we can try again in another six years.

I attended Pitt at the end of the Gottfried era and through the disastrous Hackett regime. (As managing editor of The Pitt News, I approved the headline: "Couldn't Hackett" when he was fired.) I refer to my time at Pitt as the "dark ages" of the school's athletics. I, for one, will be hopeful and patient with the new regime.

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger Jim Lakely said...

No one has offered better commentary on this coaching search than you, Chris. And I, too, share your trepidation. I had my heart set on Holgorsen, or (probably even better) Mike Leach to get the job. But Pitt fans obviously must give Hayward a fair chance -- which Pittsburgh sports fans should be more than prepared to give.

Ask Steeler fans today if they thought this was a good idea in January 2007: Handing one of the NFL's premiere franchises over to an unproven, vagabond assistant coach in his 30s who never coached at a high-level college program, had exactly ONE YEAR of coordinator-level experience in the NFL, and ZERO playing experience in the league. Mike Tomlin came in with a pretty thin resume — especially for a job as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, Tomlin has already won a Super Bowl and has kept the team near or among the elite every year. Aside from that, he's a man of such strong character that all fans of the Steelers can be proud of him and the franchise -- even in "down" years.

That said, you are 100 percent right in your evaluation of this situation for Pitt. (More in an additional comment from me below) ...

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger Jim Lakely said...

... (continuing) The standard now is: Can Pitt do better than what they had under Wannstedt -- tying for Big East titles (meaningless), losing games they should win (which keeps them out of the Top 15), not completely flopping in "big games" in front of key recruits and on national TV. (I don't think I'll ever forget how embarrassing that disastrous Sun Bowl game last year was.) In short, will Haywood make Pitt MATTER in the national conversation/BCS discussion -- at least from time to time. Wanny, God love him (and all Pitt fans should, too), didn't do that in six years at the helm. Even if Haywood holds serve on the Pitt program, we can try again in another six years.

I attended Pitt at the end of the Gottfried era and through the disastrous Hackett regime. (As managing editor of The Pitt News, I approved the headline: "Couldn't Hackett" when he was fired.) I refer to my time at Pitt as the "dark ages" of the school's athletics. I, for one, will be hopeful and patient with the new regime.

 
At 10:27 PM, Blogger Jim Lakely said...

Sorry, Chris, for the multiple comment posts. It was a glitch on my end. Please delete all the extraneous nonsense. The first comment by me had everything I wanted to say ... but I got some error messages on my computer.

Best,
Jim

 
At 10:34 PM, Blogger John In South Carolina said...

As I commented in a previous post I strongly disagree with you Chris. I think Pitt made a good choice. Only time will tell. I wonder what you thought about Jamie Dixon's hire at the time. He did not even have head coaching experience. Again the mess in West Virginia makes the Pitt process and final decision look even better.

 
At 10:54 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

The hiring of Jamie Dixon was a fluke on Pitt's part. They wanted Skip Prosser and only chose Dixon because without an AD at the time nobody else wanted the job. They were saved by Dixon's excellence. And Dixon has only stayed because he loves at Pitt. They still aren't paying him what he's worth. He could easily get more elsewhere and has actually been offered more elsewhere many times.

As for not agreeing with me, does that mean you expect Haywood to turn Pitt into a national power? Because that's what I'm saying. I'm saying he won't turn Pitt into an elite program.

 
At 11:29 PM, Blogger John In South Carolina said...

Chris what I am saying is I think he will be better than Wannstedt. That is why we are making a change. Again all this is conjecture on both our parts. We need to resume this conversation same time next year. Unfortunately you are saying that if we are 10-2 next year then that was not an upgrade. I say it would be. The following year if we are again 10-2 I would be happy with that two years in a row. Just like the basketball program, every thing is not going to go your way every year but you need to keep pounding away at it and sooner or later you will break through and get to the next level. Wannstedt was a disappointment the year after the 13-9 upset of WVU. Everyone was hoping things would get better because Wannstedt was such a stand-up Pitt guy. Last year there was a glimmer of hope but this year we all could see that it was never going to change. Again if we are 10-2 next year at this time I would consider the change a success.

 
At 11:40 PM, Blogger patriot9 said...

Chris, you have done a great job of giving us intelligent commentary on the coaching situation.
Some people hope that Haywood will be an improvement over Wannstedt.
Hope is not a strategy. There is nothing in his background to indicate that he will be a success.
I am afraid that things will never get better at Pitt unless and until it stops being cheap and hires a quality coach.

 
At 11:41 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

I would consider 10-2 the first two seasons a success, too. I would be very surprised if he could do that, though.

 
At 12:25 AM, Blogger Jim Lakely said...

10-2 this year (not even that!) would have secured the BCS bowl and put us in the Top 10 in the polls. Hell, a lot worse would have secured that glory it this year.

The "bottom" that Wanny has set is ZERO outright conference championships. We can do worse. But you must agree, Chris, it's worth taking the chance to do better.

The difference between the "Nobody Cares Bowl" and a BCS bowl is not nearly as large in the Big East as it is in the SEC or the Big Ten or the Big 12, or the Pac 10 (soon to be 12). There was no evidence Wanny was going to get us there (except by luck). He had six years. He failed.

And his non-conference losses on the whole were arguably even more damaging than his Big East losses.

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger sshisheng said...

10-2 against mediocre opponents does not cut it.
I am not driving 3 1/2 hours to see a Mike Haywood coached team, gut out a hard fought win against Bowling Green or Buffalo.
That's what matters, butts in seats and I am just not excited by this coach regardless of his wins/losses.
And if you think Mike Haywood is Mike Tomlin your crazy. Mike Tomlin had the same 'lite' resume but everyone that met him said he was something special, meaning he had the charisma and energy to excite the team and city.
Just my 2 cents.

 
At 10:57 AM, Blogger Joe Kumpf said...

Chris,

I respect your views and would never make snide comments.

We all have our views in life. I'm going to support the new coach and see what happens.

As always, thanks for the insight.

Take care and Merry Christmas.

 
At 7:09 PM, Blogger sonofoakland said...

Thanks for your insight Chris. Wow, this definitely did not turn out how I had hoped. I believed strongly that the only way to succeed at a high level given our talent deficiencies compared to top programs was to bring in an innovator as coach. Clearly Haywood is not. What he is, is a disciplinarian and someone who will run a very clean program. Golden struck me as much the same. Is there something under the surface beyond the handful of arrests and suspensions that the administration sees as an off the field problem? I am quite certain Nordenberg doesn't want to take a black eye from the football program in his final years as Chancellor. I really have a hard time seeing this as a move to improve the performance on the field, so I'm really trying hard to understand why this move was made. Any hints if discipline or off field trouble might have led to this move? I sure hope Haywood does succeed where Wannstedt didn't, but it just feels like that isn't the reason behind this move.

 

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