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Friday, December 31, 2010

Pitt should fire both Haywood and Pederson

By Chris Dokish

With the news that new Pitt head coach Michael Haywood has been arrested for allegedly roughing up the mother of his child, Pitt should correct this horrible mistake once and for all.

How do they do that? First of all, they need to immediately fire both Haywood and AD Steve Pederson. Haywood is obviously going to get fired. You simply can't make a big deal about hiring somebody supposedly moral and honorable (instead of talented) then retain him after allegedly beating up a woman. Haywood is done. Finished. Not only at Pitt, but probably elsewhere. Mugshots have a way of killing a college coaching career, unless of course you are an elite talent, which Haywood never was. It was an atrocious, and embarrassing, hire to begin with.

That brings us to Pederson, who arguably is responsible for two of the five worst major college coaching hires in the last ten years. The man, simply put, is incompetent. His hiring of Ben Howland, always thought to be orchestrated by Sonny Vaccaro anyway, is looking more and more like a fluke every day. If Pitt does not fire him also then they will again look like an amateurish and clueless administration.

So what to do then? Personally I would make Frank Cignetti, Jr., or somebody similar, the interim head coach at somewhere in the range of $700,000. Nobody worthwhile is going to work for Pederson now, and if Pederson does get fired, it will take months to hire a new AD. Likewise, nobody worthwhile will work for a university that has no AD. For this reason I make somebody who is desperate the head coach and tell him that it's a one year deal on an interim basis. If he does a great job in that year then you make him your permanent head coach. If he does not succeed then the new AD will hire a competent head coach, hopefully this time somebody with credentials to coach at a BCS program and not somebody like the bargain basement Haywood.

Yes, it would be difficult to hire a competent staff and to get any kids to commit for that one year, but it is the best choice in a horrible situation. There will be no chance that Pitt will be able to hire an excellent coach at this time, pure and simple. What coach would want to join this debacle right now? No one, unless you throw a lot of money at them and we all know Pitt will never do that. They could only hire a journeyman coach before, and now the situation is even worse so it's ludicrous to think anything better than an interim coach will work. And even that may not work, but it's the only reasonable option if Pederson is fired. If he's not fired then it won't matter who they hire because the program is over as we know it.

In conclusion, the firing of Dave Wannstedt was the right thing to do. The hiring of Haywood was a disaster to begin with, and has obviously turned nightmarish. Following my plan seems the best way to try to bring some competence and sanity back into what has quickly become a disastrous program. But Pitt rarely has done the right thing. It could begin to change that by firing Haywood and Pederson. But this time, make the right hiring.

48 Comments:

At 12:26 AM, Blogger chilco said...

Chris you are right on all counts, Heywood and Pedersen should be gone asap. The problem from the jump was that Pittsburgh being a one newspaper town (okay I'll name it....... the P-G,) has always sat silently in Steve Pedersen's corner and given him a pass, almost to the point where he was dubbed a saint and we were lucky to have him as AD.
Maybe this is too amateurish of an idea but why not give wanny the AD job and find a competent football man take that job (i.e., to throw a few out at you Friedgen, Bradley, or my darkhorse former USF coach Jim Leavitt.... yes I know he alledgedly grabbed a former player....... but he was balls to the wall tough and actually had a contract tendered to him from Alabama while USF coach and turned it down due to school loyalty.... I like that!)
Anyway Wanny as AD and a seasoned football coach to take over the headset.

 
At 12:30 AM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

I think Pitt will not hire anybody short of a saint at this point so no way will it be Leavitt. And clearly they don't want Bradley because they have never even contacted him.

As for Wannstedt as an AD, I don't know if he has the skills for that to be honest. And I don't know if he would be interested especially since he just got fired from the very administration that would then have to hire him.

 
At 12:37 AM, Blogger chilco said...

I'm thinking Archie Griffin did a nice job as Ohio State's AD and Wanny could do it while helping Pitt save face and maintaining stability from within the program. (Wouldn't it be poetic justice that the man who canned Wanny ends up getting fired and Wanny takes his job?)
On the 2nd front I'd think a seasoned coach like Ralph Friedgen with a boss like Wanny (both mature and respected guys,) could take a bad situation and stabilize it rather quickly (think David Petraeus and Surge.)
If Billy Martin could be hired, fired, and rehired in NY, Nordy should be able to make it happen.

 
At 4:01 AM, Blogger Tony77019 said...

Chris:
Do you think Tom Bradley would take the job?

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Mac said...

Chris,

Are Pederson and Dixon close? I believe I've read before where they are very close. I am all for firing Pederson after this mess, but would or could it end up costing Pitt coach Dixon at a later date? If it would, then I think firing him is not such a simple decision.

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger Parent said...

Z#2 here. Great Post. You have spelled out the entire process that should be done. We are on the ledge of being pre-Walt if many of the decisions that you have posted are not done. NO ONE WILL COACH UNDER PEDERSON. NO RECRUIT'S MOTHER WILL EVER LET MIKE HAYWOOD INTO HER LIVING ROOM.
And who is going to coach the bowl game???

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

It seems like Bradley probably would take the job if offered but I don't see them offering it. They have something against him because they don't even look his way.

As for Dixon and Pederson, I just talked to somebody very high in the Pitt administration two days ago who tells me that Dixon has absolutely no interest in leaving Pitt and I can't see Pederson leaving changing that.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger penzfan said...

what is your email dokish please thanks

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

doke88@yahoo.com

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger JW said...

Agree with your thoughts about Haywood and Peterson. I do not like the interim idea at all, though. Hiring an interim for the year not only creates a mess this year but puts Pitt behind for the next 2-3: not only is recruiting a mess, but then if a new coach is hired next year then it's another transition.
Pitt (Nordenberg) must now be decisive: fire Haywood and Peterson, implement an interim AD, and then hire the best possible coach on at least a 4 year contract. Not ideal, obviously, but this can be resolved. I don't think we should have to settle for a stop-gap solution. It's on Nordenberg to earn his substantial salary.

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Andy Prough said...

Dokish - this makes no sense. If you put in an interim coach and lose an entire recruiting class, you could be 5 or more years from returning to respectability. Not only will you lose next year, but then the following four years where you desperately needed those recruits to start to get on the field and perform. Hiring an interim coach who is expected to do nothing - neither win nor recruit, is practically a death sentence for the school.

One reasonable solution is to fire Pederson, and beg Wannstedt to return and salvage what he can of his own recruiting class. Of course, he would require a raise and a long-term commitment, but he has already proven he is as good as anyone Pitt has had in a long time. If he wins the bowl game on national TV in 8 days, AND Pitt has no head coach or a head coach behind bars - what a PR and recruiting disaster.

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger tpaul said...

Pitt now must "walk the walk". It cannot preach values and integrity and not relieve both Haywood and Pederson of their duties.

Unfortunately, if Jamie Dixon values his relationship with Pederson more than he relationship with Pitt, so be it. IN NO WAY CAN THE ACTIONS THAT DIXON MAY OR MAY NOT MAKE INFLUENCE THIS FIRING PROCESS.

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger Leak said...

Chris,
I agree completely on cleaning house of both Haywood and Pedersen. But we part company on the rest of your program. An interim coach almost never works unless he is a once-in-a-lifetime football turnaround genius. An Interim Coach who is just "average plus" will need to be replaced in 11 months, recruiting will be set back for years, and the Pitt Head Coach job will be less popular than 5 day old fish in a sauna.

We all agree that Pitt is now in a crisis. But crisis management doesn't suggest putting a band-aid on a festering wound. It calls for surgery to excise the rotting flesh and sutures to heal the wound and grow new healthy skin.

There are solid, experienced candidates out there who have been involved in successful Div 1A programs in BCS conferences. (Think SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12) We've just gotten first hand experience on how quickly you can turn a Big East team into one that belongs in the MAC, or worse. So let's skip the amateur hour hire, pick someone with experience, and move forward.

Leaders lead. Nordenberg needs to step up and prove why he's running the university.

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger drdavecinci said...

As a longtime season ticket holder I have witnessed first hand the demise of the Pitt football program, but have also seen gradual improvement with stability and excellent recruiting over the past 5 years. While this year was a setback and far below expectations I still feel Wannstedt should have remained as head coach. So I disagree with you on that point.

However, moving on... I completely agree with Chris D that both Haywood and AD Pederson must be fired. Whether he is found guilty in a court of law, or not, is immaterial at this point. The integrity of the University and its Athletic Department is at stake.

Whether Pitt will do the right thing or not is still unclear. It will be interesting to see how it will be spun. My feeling is the Administration is clueless in the running of a big-time Athletic Dept. Perhaps we fans expect too much on the field, but I hope we do not expect too much integrity from the Admistration.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

I agree that an interim coach is not ideal and that it will probably set the program back. But, what's the alternative? No way are they going to hire Wannstedt back. It's just not going to happen. So what next? Hire Todd Graham or Kevin Sumlin? That's not going to happen either because why would they want to come here? They already got turned down for one thing so I don't see the Pitt job as so scary good that they will embarrass themselves by trying to be hired again. For another, the program is in shambles. The AD, if he stays, has proven to be incompetent. If he gets fired then the new coach will not know who the AD is. That's what kept Skip Prosser away from Pitt before Jamie Dixon was hired. So all that leaves you now are less than ideal candidates. So if you don't make one of those less than ideal candidates an interim coach, and instead give him a four year deal, you are probably setting the program back even further. It won't be Bradley, so forget that, too. It would be somebody who is even less attractive than Haywood because he would have to be somebody who is REALLY desperate. So the interim coach, to me, is the "least worst" option. Fire Pederson, hire a new AD, and let him finally hire a qualified, and coveted head coach next season.

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger chilco said...

Reading the sports blogs and listening to the Pgh sports talk radio things seem quite bleak for PITT Football, but if Chancellor Nordenberg stepped up his responsibility and manned up like a hard ass he could right this ship and maintain some stability, instead of watching his ship slowly sink in murky waters.
The one thing that is consistent within Pitt football is how everyone passes the buck (i.e., Nordy to Pedersen. Pedersen to Wanny. Wanny to the players.)
It's all on Nordenberg's shoulders right now. Get a credible BIG name coach and save your sinking program NOW!

 
At 12:40 PM, Blogger Dogfather said...

Yes! Yes!.....and YES!

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger Andy Prough said...

Dokish - you were beating the drum for how long for Wannstedt to be fired? And now you are saying that the "program is in shambles", and that it has already been set back several years?

I think Wannstedt will have some bittersweet laughs and tears as he completes a third straight 8+ win season with a national TV bowl win in one week.

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

Wannstedt was running a mediocre program that was hidden for too many years by playing in an awful conference. If you can't win the Big East in six years then, I'm sorry, you aren't a very good head coach. He needed to be fired. The mistake was not hiring a better coach then him after he was fired.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger chilco said...

Andy,
Wanny earned his way out of his head coaching job by getting blown out to the likes of a mediocre Miami team and it's backyard foe WVU. His time had came and went (unless you wanna tout the FIU's of collegiate football as major wins???)
That Pedersen and Nordy were unable to fill this top job in a responsible manner has nothing to do with Wanny's game day coaching skills.
I see this program having weaknesses all the way around, starting at the top on down.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Hire George O'leary if he will take the job.

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger JW said...

I disagree that Graham or Sumlin wouldn't take the job-- IF they are offered more money than they currently earn AND a four or five year contract. Of course those are huge IFs with this administration, but as I stated above this is the moment when Nordenberg needs to step up, be decisive and do what he needs to do.

 
At 1:03 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

I wrote before that the only way they could get a big time coach to come into this mess is if they throw a lot of money at them. But I think we all know that's not happening.

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger JW said...

Both make about $1.1 mill-- I don't think $1.25 million is "huge" money at this point, with these circumstances.

Then again, it's not my money (most of it, at least), and I'm not making the decisions.

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Whistle Pig said...

Let me offer a few thoughts ...

1. It's obvious to all, maybe beyond a hopeful, still-incarcerated, delusional former head coach, that Hayward is head-coaching history.

2. Consider these ...
A. Pederson knew something(s),anything(s), everything(s) about Hayward's personal past and character flaws. (one really has to wonder, in light of his unsuccessful previous attempts to land head jobs, if others too, knew.)

B. Pederson knew nothing about these issues and their potential for Pitt PR disaster.


Either way, Pederson must go. For on one hand it reflects his own character flaw and/or poor judgement to say nothing of his dishonest, disingenuous statements and communications with the public and/or his own superior(s).

And on the other, i.e. he did NOT know? He has ...once again, shown either his poor judgement and/or incompetence in what he has been hired to do.

And in every possible scenario, he has failed and embarrassed both his superior and the greater institution they both represent immeasureably.

Neither Pederson nor his hired coach have given Pitt any option but to part company.

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger chilco said...

I will go one further: I have often been ridiculed on other blogs and mediums for saying that Pederson should never have been welcomed back at Pitt for a 2nd term after his abyssmal failures at Nebraska. Not only that but the guy jumped ship on Pitt as soon as Nebraska came a' knockin.
That would never happen in a big time SEC Program. You show any type of disloyalty, you aren't getting your old job back, espescially after dismantling another program.
Pederson has flown below the radar for as long as he could. He's now been exposed as a fraud. Time to move on.

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

I also went on record at that time that hiring Pederson back was ludicrous. The man left, then was a complete disaster, then you let him come back? That reeks of stupidity on Pitt's part. Mark Nordenberg may or may not be excellent for the university as a whole, I am not well versed on what he does in that regard, but as a manager of the sports programs, he appears to be clueless.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Andy Prough said...

Dokish - amazing to read that those 27 wins don't count for anything. How many more do Penn State or Wisconsin have during the same time? 2 or 3? None? How about Iowa? Football games are hard to win with 19 and 20 year old kids, no matter who the competition. Ask Mack Brown - he would tell you that 27 wins in 3 years is nothing to sneeze at.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger chilco said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger chilco said...

Andy,

If beating up on inferior competition is your idea of success then Wanndstedt is your guy. If endless penalties, clock mismanagement and lack of accountability year after year is your idea of success then again, Wanny is your guy.
If losing every big game your program encounters is sucess..... well you get the idea?????

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger absolute59 said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger absolute59 said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger absolute59 said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger absolute59 said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 3:03 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 3:03 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Chris: The interim thing is a bad idea and your comparison to Prosser is misplaced. Prosser had a job at Wake Forest in the ACC. Sumlin is at Houston. My guess is he would take the risk for the right amount of money and prestege of a BSC school.

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger John In South Carolina said...

Chris,

With Haywood now history due to the Chancellor's quick decision, I think your suggestion of Frank Cignetti, Jr. being the new head coach is a good one. I would give him a three year contract though. If it does not work out after one year, you can still fire him and it would not hamstring him in hiring assistants and recruiting.

As for the AD how could something like this not have appeared in the vetting process of Haywood? I would be surprised if this is the first incident of this happening in Haywood's past.

 
At 9:04 PM, Blogger chilco said...

johninSC,

We don't know hwat happened between Heywood and baby mama.
I've got a hard time with all of these domestic violence charges as alot of the time it's simply the guy trying to restrain an out of control girlfriend on a rampage and the guy grabs them by the arms or yes even a headlock as they claw, gouge and scratch (ouch!)
Anyway.... Heywood will have alot of time to contemplate the big time coaching job that never was and his choice of relationships. Just sad.... all the way around.

 
At 11:01 PM, Blogger Whistle Pig said...

dokish ...One clear misstatement that needs correcting. Prosser's declining of Pitt's offer may have been influenced by the AD's presence. But that is purely anecdotal and not causal. He had a $10M contract offer at a campus that is as good as they get in a city of millionaires thanks to the cash-out of R.J.Reynolds in the cachet conference in the USA. And Wake is a premiere academic institution with reputation on the rise.

Anyone who thought Prosser was doing more than leveraging time and money at the program he'd put on the basketball map in negotiating w/ Pitt is purely delusional.

Now, while anecdotal, note Tom O'Brien departing a then Big East great school for an ACC land-grant. Has there EVER been one coming the other way in other than an asst to head job? Not a chance.

 
At 12:11 AM, Blogger sonofoakland said...

I find it hard to believe they'd fire Pederson who hired Howland (the guy who rebuilt the hoops program), Harris (the guy who rebuilt the football program), and secured funding to build the Pete as well as the soon to be built facilities for the olympic sports. No doubt Haywood turned out to be a bad hire, but the university acted quickly and appropriately. Neither Alabama nor ND suffered long-term harm after similar embarrassing hires.

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger Chris Dokish said...

Pitt isn't Notre Dame or Alabama. As for hiring Howland and Harris, both were hired at Pitt over a decade ago. Since then Pederson has proved to be a disaster at two different schools.

And just for the record I was not one of these people who complained about him over the stadium or the script, or anything like that. For me, the tipping point for him was this current disaster. Now you can see that for years he has been incompetent. This was his chance to prove his worth and he missed badly. It's like Haywood was not even vetted.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger Tony77019 said...

Chris:
I have been saying Pederson needs to go for some time. Would you please devote a full article to him? There are still too many cool aid drinkers out there. After Nordenberg released Haywood, he followed up with an endorsement of Pederson. The Pitt administration knows Pederson is very unpopular. But Pederson will need to be driven away from Pitt by the court of public opinion. Thanks.

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger sonofoakland said...

Thanks for the response. I hadn't heard that Haywood had a history of domestic violence. If that's the case, it's certainly a strike against the hiring process. Not sure what you are basing your claim about Pederson being a disaster since Howland/Harris on though. Haven't they been setting records in terms of donations and ticket sales? He helped raise the funding for the Pete, as well as for the new facilities that they are building. Is there something going on behind the scenes that isn't being reported?

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger chilco said...

So let me get ths strait:

If an AD contributes to a successful basketball program and makes a middling decision on an old broken down football field, that gives him the right to decimate the football program?
If I'm wrong correct me? Cause that's what I'm hearing alot of Pitt fans saying in the blogs, talk radio, and in print.

 
At 10:31 PM, Blogger Whistle Pig said...

Let's be clear on one thing ...Pederson is not responsible for the funding of the Pete ...that was Petersen(s) ...Erie Insurance folks, and a whole bunch of other generous folks. Twas their generosity, not some alleged magic touching of Pederson. To the contrary, even were it so, going forward, that same "touch" would be like poison ivy. So either way, that argument is moot and substantially off target.

 
At 10:41 PM, Blogger sonofoakland said...

Except that he got the same people to pony up for new soccer fields, baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, track, etc. this year. Those same people appear to be willing to pay whenever he wants to build something useful.

 

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