It might not be as big of news as the Phillies acquiring Cliff Lee, but Mike Haywood was hired by the University of Pittsburgh to replace Dave Wannstedt who had been fired after six years with the program, and his hire has been met with mixed reviews. Many alumni at Pitt felt that the new coach should have been pulled from a major conference and not the Mid American Conference where Mike Haywood was a head coach at Miami (OH). That criticism is only partially valid. Haywood's only experience as a head coach have been with Miami (OH) in the MAC, but he served on various major college staffs as an assistant prior to his Miami gig, including LSU, Texas, and as the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame.
Mike Haywood at Miami (OH)
In his two seasons at Miami, Mike Haywood enjoyed a pretty remarkable turnaround. His team won only one football game in 2009, then came back to win nine this year and the league championship. He demonstrated in his time there that if nothing else, he means business. He holds football practices at 6 am so that players have the rest of their day free for school work, and he makes player wear coats and ties to road games. Whether that type of coaching style will go over at Pitt remains to be seen, although Wannstedt was never known as an overly touchy feely coach himself.
It is interesting that Pitt felt they were not getting enough out of their former coach even though he had a great class coming in and had put together some nice seasons, winning 26 games in his final three seasons there. What seemed to stick out to fans was the fact that the school didn't ever seem to pull off any upsets in his time there, but instead were the victims of upsets any time they would climb high in the polls. Though Wannstedt's teams did well, there was always the feeling that they could have done better. The job of Mike Haywood coming in is to take the program to the next level.
First Black Pitt Men's Coach
One significant thing about the hiring of Mike Haywood that really has not gotten a ton of coverage in the press even as they pick apart the hire and wonder whether it was the right move by the school is the fact that Mike Haywood is the first black coach of any major men's sport at the school. This is a major step for the university whether it is being publicized as such or not. Clearly Mike Haywood getting hired had nothing to do with the fact that he is African American; he just got the job because he was so successful at Miami and seemed to be ready for a shot at a major college.
Mike Haywood is going to be coaching in a football crazy town. Pitt is also the home of the Steelers, led by former Miami (OH) QB Ben Roethlisberger. The expectations that fans have in this town are very high. And it will be no different even with a new coach in place. Mike Haywood probably does not have a very long rope to play around with because the school is so evidently sick of stagnation and wishes to take their program higher than the previous coach was able to bring it. It is tough to jump in at a job like that. Relocating and finding a new car insurance dealer and driver's license are the simple part for someone like Mike Haywood. He has to get a whole team to buy into what he is trying to do.