December 16, 2010

What do the hirings of Jamie Dixon, Dave Wannstedt and Mike Haywood have in common?

It obviously isn’t the success rate.

Believe it or not, it isn’t the AD, as each was hired with a different AD ostensibly in charge.

It’s not even the money.

It’s that in all of the moves to make the hire, there was a clear #1 target and then only a cheap fallback.

One of the advantages for doing this Pitt blog for so long are archives that lend itsself to more easily reviewing past events. While the hiring of Jamie Dixon predates this blog, I deeply followed that saga and coupled with the ACC raid on the Big East, made me want to start this blog. At the time I was just general interest blogging anything that had my attention.

Over seven years ago I wrote this:

Prosser or bust is the feeling I have. This is like a low level Roy Williams deciding on Kansas or UNC thing a few years ago (I know it’s happening again). When Roy decided to stay at Kansas, there was a sense of desperation and “settling” for Doherty. It appears Pitt is heading down that same path, if Prosser says no. To date, the only other person interviewed was Pitt’s associate coach James Dixon. This zeroing in on Prosser is only a smart strategy for Pitt if he takes the job. If not, there is scrambling, second guessing, desperation, and another demoralizing blow to alumni and fans of Pitt, who will once again feel like they (we) are never going to be considered a top sports program.

Sound familiar?

How about less than two years later?

I know the interviews haven’t even started yet, but I think it should be clear that Dave Wannstedt is (and perhaps should be) Pitt’s primary target. This isn’t because he represents Pitt’s most “serious” choice. The other guys contacted so far — Pelini and Hoke — and mentioned for consideration — Rhoads, Sunseri and Bradley — are all assistants. They are lower profile and cheaper possibilities.

I’m not saying that they may not be better choices, but with all of Pitt’s talk about believing that Harris lacked the vision to take Pitt higher, they shifted the pressure to themselves to back it up. Wannstedt would be a high profile hire. He is friendly with lots of national media types — Pardon the Interruption yesterday (12/15) even brought the topic up in their “big finish” segment and both Kornheiser and Wilbon seemed to like the idea. Wannstedt would also be the most expensive hire. Something Pitt has said it would be willing to do, but has never actually done. Not just the money needed for Wannstedt, but what it would cost for the top-flight assistants a coach who hasn’t been in the college game since 1987 would need.

And of course, we know that this time Pitt got Wannstedt. Paying more than they would have for any of the other assistants. What we’ve learned since is that while Pelini was high on then AD Long’s list, he was nixed after the interviews. The top choice after Wannstedt actually and disturbingly was Paul Rhoads.

This time, it seems that Al Golden was the top target by Pitt, with the school willing to pony up the money for him. Holgorsen may have been high on AD Pederson’s list but he got nixed by someone higher-up. Very few interviews appear to have actually been conducted. That led to a second choice — Haywood — that was significantly cheaper than the first choice.

The one common thread is Chancellor Nordenberg. I’m not trying to absolve AD Pederson for his part in all of this, but there has been a familiarity in the poor process and way the search for the next coach has been conducted regardless of who has been the AD.

It is no secret that Nordenberg has a lot of input/control in the coaching searches. He also has close relationships with both Jamie Dixon and Dave Wannstedt. To be fair, the close relationship with Dixon has been beneficial in helping keep Dixon at Pitt.

Nordenberg seems to value these close relationships with the high profile coaches and seems to make that a particularly important component in the hiring process. That seems to explain why coaches like Bo Pelini and Dana Holgorsen still got nixed after the AD appeared to push and back them.

It seems that Nordenberg concludes that if the high profile, top choice is off the board, then it is better to go after someone who is a better “value.”

It undermines the AD, obviously. It also undermines the hire if it isn’t the top choice. To fans and alumni, it looks like the school was looking for the cheapest hire rather than the best hire.

As we have seen with Coach Dixon, Pitt will pay competitive (not necessarily top, but competitive) money to keep a good coach who produces. But if it is not the top choice, then Pitt under Nordenberg would prefer a hire that can start out on the lower end of the salary scale. Furthering the perception/reality that Pitt won’t pay top dollar for a coach and is not serious about competing in 1-A football or even the Big East.

Look Nordenberg is a tremendous Chancellor at Pitt. The school is in great shape. It’s reputation in academics is outstanding. Nordenberg should also get a lot of credit for caring about the athletics and recognizing the importance their role plays in promoting a school. All you have to do is think back to the state of athletics when the short-time schmuck Dennis O’Connor was running things in the early-90s.

The one thing he hasn’t learned to do, stay out of the way in hiring decisions. I want to be supportive of the Haywood hiring, since there is a lot to like in the guy. The way the decision was reached. The way it has come about, though, did more damage than anything on Haywood’s resume.

well said Chas

the worst part about this whole process was how in control of their future WVU was… and how completely lost and leaderless we were

Comment by DeVanzo 12.16.10 @ 1:37 pm

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fighting Wannstaches, Chas Rich. Chas Rich said: Pitt's history of hiring coaches was the biggest problem. Not actually hiring Haywood. link to […]

In the interest of amity, changed my name from beat the hoopies.

I just can’t buy your premise that not getting Golden or DH is a problem. Golden is sort of a snore and DH is an unknown. A lot of complaints this season centered on kids not being accountable, or giving up. I’m not sure I agree with that, but if greater accountability for the players is what is needed, this guy seems to have what it takes.

In my opinion clock management and pressure play calling were DWs biggest problems. How is hay woods history with those areas?

Comment by Pwmcdupitt 12.16.10 @ 1:40 pm

Chas, you hit it dead on….

Our top brass just does not get how BAD they are at public promotions and brand building. From major things (like coaching changes) to little things (using that STUPID Pittsburgh City skyline behind Jamie Dixon during all of his interviews with ESPN)….they just don’t effing get it…

You practice like you play.
You also are perceived how you look and act…

and we look and act like dipshits, constantly.

Hire a professional search firm….get beat out by WVU, flat out axed by Miami, settled for another no name…

Fire, er promote, er step aside, er…your head coach.

Give your fired, er promoted, er stepped aside coach to CHOOSE if they want to coach the bowl game?

WTF is wrong with these people? Do they NOT know how to run a AD with class, professionalism and brand building/strategic marketing insight?


Comment by Pauly P 12.16.10 @ 1:49 pm

Well stated, Chas. It’s hard to find anything to say on top of that.

Comment by Cool Hand Nuke 12.16.10 @ 1:57 pm

I can’t see anything that’s happened to convince me it’s not same old Pitt.

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.16.10 @ 2:00 pm

The other person who always seems to be at the forefront of these searches is Jerry Cochran, who is essentially the second in command at Pitt. If my memory is correct, it was Cochran who was blamed in the press for the bungling of the AD position after Pederson left for Nebraska, as well as the handling of the Prosser/Dixon search. I wouldn’t discount his influence on the process either, as he has been a constant at Pitt (and a powerful one at that) for a long time.

Comment by Pantherman13 12.16.10 @ 2:07 pm

I don’t buy your argument. I mean you complain about the process, but it is the same process that got us Jamie Dixon. So clearly the process was correct before in a great way. Let’s see Pitt got a great coach when they went the opposite of your preference, and Pitt got an underwhelming coach when they went out and paid for Wanny. So in recent history the process is 1-0. While paying is 0-1.

Pederson’s top choice was probably Peterson from Boise State and then Al Golden followed maybe by Haywood but who knows who exactly. There is no real indication that Pederson liked Holgerson more, other than the stories that were most likely leaked by Holgerson connecting him to Pitt in order to force WVU to make a move. If you are going to claim Pitt is being cheap can you please name which coaches Pitt missed out on because they were being cheap? Peterson wanted to stay in Boise, Miami is a better job than Pitt for Al Golden, and Holgerson had already been talking to WVU for a while and had ties to WVU.

Nordenberg is basically the CEO of Pitt, so obviously he is going to have the final say on an employee who will be very public figure for the university. Pederson knows what Nordenberg values and I’m sure based his coach list on those values, which is probably why Leach wasn’t a legit candidate. Also Pederson had to know Nordenberg wouldn’t have gone for Holgerson. And if Pederson actually thought Nordenberg would have then Pederson is pretty foolish, which I really doubt.

Comment by XBlackMagicX 12.16.10 @ 2:10 pm


I don’t think that thought process is wrong at all. Go for a high profile fit. If it doesn’t work, go for a low profile fit. Nordenberg is much smarter than all of us, let us not forget, so I would never rush to doubt him.

Furthermore, maybe I missed it, but why haven’t we given the administration credit for getting Wanny out? Everyone is suddenly praising WVU and even they couldn’t have the balls to get rid of Stewart–instead they waste a lame duck year on him. I think a lot of administrations/ADs (think Jeff Long) would have accepted Wanny’s shortcomings and stuck with him.

Comment by Joe 12.16.10 @ 2:11 pm

I agree with you xBlackMagicx.

Comment by Joe 12.16.10 @ 2:12 pm

Get off the bowl game question.
The game depends on the players’ attitudes, and I think they would play their hearts out for DW’s final game, and I bet he wants to do it for them, too.
There is also the question of which assistants and coordinators he may have lost by then.
I think he is waiting to ask the incoming coach how he feels about it, because a good win puts the new guy in a tougher place for going on from here. I think that is the kind of guy DW is.

Comment by Pwmcdupitt 12.16.10 @ 2:24 pm

A nice little clip from an article on espn from December 4th:

“If there is a more incredible story among the non-AQs this season, please show it to me.

Miami (Ohio) pulled off a stunner Friday night in Detroit, upsetting the heavily favored Northern Illinois Huskies to win the MAC championship — one season removed from a 1-11 record.

Where do we start handing out the credit? First of course is MAC Coach of the Year Mike Haywood, who has engineered the biggest turnaround in college football this season. Miami won nine games, and he has completely changed the culture in the program, laying down tough rules and expecting nothing but hard work and discipline. His team also won with games on the line — Miami is 7-0 in games decided by seven points or fewer.”

link to

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.16.10 @ 2:28 pm

Let’s face it, 90% of all college coaching hires are completely farcical. What could be more absurd and amateurish than the way WVU hired Holgorsen? No sane multimillion dollar company would hire their CEO that way.

The only thing that matters is the results. If Haywood wins, nobody will remember the process and if he loses, the best process in the world won’t make a difference, it will still be a failed hire.

Comment by maguro 12.16.10 @ 2:30 pm

I’m not as excited about Haywood as I would have been for Golden or Holgerson, but that’s only because both those guys have been all over the college football media recently.

Now that I have been rolling it around for a day, I can’t really see the difference between Golden and Haywood. Why is Golden so revered?

Comment by Chris 12.16.10 @ 2:31 pm

I hope there is a process for getting him good assistants. If not, I’d like to see Cigs stay on as OC. We thought Wanny had no play call ability — Heywood was an OC who lost his play calling privileges mid season due to incompetence.

Comment by Chuck Morris 12.16.10 @ 2:31 pm

Everyone needs to chill on Golden and Holgorsen NOT coaching here. I’m fine with that fact.

The one thing I’ll give WVU on this one is that they waited to axe their coach until after they had his replacement lined up.

Other than that, WVU got a coach that Pitt passed on; and due to the “buzz” created by Pitt’s supposed interest, the Hoopies probably had to pay him more money, and have less left over to pay his assistants. I didn’t hear Holgorsesn’s name in the mix for any other job, and there have been qutite a few openings at big time programs lately.

The mighty Miami Hurricanes just hired a MAC coach…and that guy couldn’t even win the MAC.

PS – WVU’s coach has more than his Skullet in common with the rest of the Mountaineer nation; their future head coach, their players, and the entire student body…all people that couldn’t get into Pitt.

Comment by Patrick 12.16.10 @ 2:37 pm

To be fair, I dont think Notre Dame started kicking ass once Fat Charlie took over the play calling….

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.16.10 @ 2:39 pm

I don’t get the slobbering all over WVU either. What they did was ballsy, no doubt. I can see how 3 or 4 years down the road, it could turn out well. But what about the next couple of years? Holgorson is going to have his defensive staff positions hired/retained for him. Who starts next year? Seniors? Presumably seniors that might be more loyal to Stewart. Underclassmen (who would help the CIW). There could be a lot of divisive issues there. And trying to recruit under that umbrella…..just saying.

Comment by George 12.16.10 @ 2:43 pm

Hey Joe, speak for yourself when saying Nordenberg is smarter than all of us. Just a man my friend.

Comment by Dan 12.16.10 @ 2:56 pm

And, if you meant football-wise, again, I say, speak for yourself!

Comment by Dan 12.16.10 @ 3:05 pm

link to

Espn guys feel we should have hired Frank Cig.

Comment by why me 12.16.10 @ 3:11 pm

Coach Ditka… you quoted “Miami is 7-0 in games decided by seven points or fewer.”

We all know that is physically impossible without having all 5th year seniors on the roster. Therefore Haywood must have cheated somehow.

Seriously, the more digging into this guys background the more I like this hire. A good hire doesn’t have to be the flashiest, well know or even successful guy available… sometimes it’s a guy who meets all your criteria for the position and who you think can get greater results when given greater responsibilities in a bigger venue – which is what Mike Haywood is.

At the very least I won’t go into each season and each game feeling like we will probably blow it somehow, which has been the overwhelming feeling with PITT fans for the last three years.

Comment by Reed 12.16.10 @ 3:18 pm

And… thanks Chas for putting out the amount of articles you have lately. This site is always entertaining but over the last two weeks has been interesting as Hell.

Comment by Reed 12.16.10 @ 3:20 pm

Almost time for his royal smugness!!! Flash those pearly whites!!!

Comment by JohnnyConcrete 12.16.10 @ 3:27 pm

Listened to the Miami (Ohio) offensive coordinator on the FAN – looks like he’s coming here – he basically said that they ran a balanced offense with multiple formations including a spread, believed in establishing the run while keeping the defense off balance with the pass.

Very similar to the Notre Dame offense he ran with modifications. AND, the kids on the team were required to sit in the front row of the classroom.

And Colin Dunlap is reporting that Bill Stewart was heavily involved in the Holgorsen hire.

Comment by KeyboardKev 12.16.10 @ 3:46 pm

I wonder if we can call him Ironhead?

Comment by forbesavenue 12.16.10 @ 3:47 pm

Iron Mike Ironhead Haywood

Comment by forbesavenue 12.16.10 @ 3:48 pm

This is not a personal attack, but the truth is that neither you, nor I nor anyone else outside of this administration has even the slightest idea of what happened during the interview process. We have no idea whom they contacted, considered or interviewed.

This administration may deserve to be castigated for not being PR-savvy, but everything else is pure speculation and opinion.

Comment by O-Fries 12.16.10 @ 3:57 pm

He has a 1 or 2 year old son. Does he have a wife?

Comment by Bobby 12.16.10 @ 4:14 pm

WVU will experience many more nightmares with Mike at the helm.

Comment by TX Panther 12.16.10 @ 4:25 pm

Things could be worse………!!

UConn looks to be on the hook for $2.5 million in unsold BCS bowl tickets……… not to mention hotel obligations etc.

link to

BTW…….. we might be doomed!! Mel Kiper likes the hiring of Haywood………… LOL

Comment by mtoolmn 12.16.10 @ 4:25 pm

Press conf was weak.. I like some of his comments but has some damn energy. It was like a funeral.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.16.10 @ 4:28 pm


you are wrong

it was as bad as it seems, and more will come out later

wow do i wish we had a leader like Oliver Luck in charge not this focus group buzz word clown pederson

theyre laughing in lincoln

link to

Comment by DeVanzo 12.16.10 @ 4:29 pm

Yeah, DeVanzo. The WVU deal went so smoothly, they couldn’t even get their stories straight, and they cost at least one of their assistant coaches a couple of job opportunities. Real class.

link to

Comment by TampaT 12.16.10 @ 4:38 pm

Yeah, I read that WVU story. Thats a mess over there. Have some balls and fire guys yourself. Don’t allow the newspaper to do the job for you. Real classy guy.

Comment by why me 12.16.10 @ 4:45 pm

If Haywood bring some sort of spread offense here then I like him MORE then Golden and maybe Wanny.

If it’s a Pro set then I see no difference between the two.

I would like to know the dollar amount he signed for and I think they are not releasing it (at least last evening) as it’s embarrassingly low. Sorry I mean a bargain.

Have not seen the press conference yet.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.16.10 @ 4:51 pm

DeVanzo – Maybe I am. But your specious argument that I am wrong and more will come out later proves my point. That’s your opinion, unless you have verifiable FACTS to back it up.

Vague assertions have become the norm in the place of valid debate.

Comment by O-Fries 12.16.10 @ 4:51 pm

That press conference was nightmarish. The program is in DEEP trouble.

Comment by Mike 12.16.10 @ 4:53 pm

I felt like I was attending a funeral. Have some life and get excited. He didn’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed and had a sense of my shit doesn’t stink cause I won in the MAC one year. Just calling it how I saw it. Anyone else? I really didn’t get a wow factor, he was passed by many programs which leads me to believe they want him to be a disciplinarian. If we will thats ok but not the main goal. Wanny was let go in my opinion bc the kids were embarrassing the program while getting arrested, etc.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.16.10 @ 5:07 pm

Wow – neither Pedersen or Haywood are good public speakers.

But, I like alot of what I hear. All scholarships upheld, multiple offensive formations with emphasis on exploiting mismatches, aggressive defensive schemes that adapt to the opponent’s formations, and playing for 60 minutes.

The one other thing I get, and from listening to an interview Joe Bendel just had with Miami Ohio’s play by play person, is the emphasis on building these student athletes as men first, then the rest will come. That really stands out to me – were there ALOT of discipline problems with Wanny’s teams? Is the university over-reacting to a few incidents in an otherwise clean program? The impression I get immediately from him is discipline and responsibility. Makes you wonder.

We will lose guys, of that I am sure. Only time will tell how bare Wanny really left the cupboard, or was it him holding us back.

Comment by Greg 12.16.10 @ 5:08 pm

I can’t judge Haywood as a coach, I know nothing about him. I hope he succeeds. I am disappointed in SP and Nordy not being able to find a higher profile head coach for the Pitt job.
A guy like Shannon would have had name recognition, recruiting contacts in Fl and the south, and had experience running a football program. His academic record for Miami’s football team was very good. I really believe it was money that a higher profile coach was not secured. Don’t know what Shannon made before fired but I bet it was around $2.0M. Pitt got its coach from the wrong Miami.
Other coaching possibilities were available in the West.

Comment by Marty 12.16.10 @ 5:09 pm

Press conferences sure determine if a coach will be good. Ben Howland is so energetic in interviews and Jamie Dixon was so telegenic when he first became coach…

Comment by XBlackMagicX 12.16.10 @ 5:11 pm

Ho-hum! Ho-hum! Ho-Hum!!!! Buy your tickets now!!! 8 home games next year, can’t wait!!

Comment by J.P. 12.16.10 @ 5:14 pm

Who gives a crap if it was a boring press conf. Jamie Dixon is incredibly boring.

Comment by Tony Cancilla 12.16.10 @ 5:26 pm

This is college football, emphasis on FOOTBALL!!! And yes, I have morals, I am a good decent person, and I am a family man. I’m also involved in the business world, but, I am so effin’ tired of hearing about class, integrity, molder of young men, etc. etc., no, not from our new coach, from people on here. Win some big effin’ games, and go to a BCS game for crying out loud. Ya, WVU handled it lousy, if we go down there and get throttled next year 56-10, this PR mess they’re having will long be an ancient memory. This guy sounds ok, I’ll give him a chance, but quit telling me about being a leader of men ad nauseum!!! I hope the kids are wonderful young gentlemen, and sing in the choir, that’s just teriffic, win some effin’ games. And to above, no, there was no “wow” factor, they hardly talked about football at all, and spoke nothing of any goals we might have.

Comment by JohnnyConcrete 12.16.10 @ 5:28 pm

Hey everyone knows you have to be a ball of fire and enthusiasm in press conferences and interviews to be a successful coach….duh!

I mean look at Nick Saban, that guy is crazy! And what about JoePa, that guy can really light up a room.

The stupidity of some of the comments on this board has been at its all time high this past week.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.16.10 @ 5:34 pm

I hope he does well, and I wish him luck. I have to say, not too sure what all the hype was about his you tube speech. Seen that speech from a thousand coaches. Wants recruits and their folks to know their kids are in good hands, yada, yada, to be fit socially, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. All coaches do this and say these things. It really has to do with on the field, didn’t hear much of that, maybe we’ll hear more in the future I suppose. Bottom line, lots of people are “good guys”, yes, even in coaching, that’s teriffic, sounds like a solid guy. Reason there is disappointment from some of us, we wanted a guy with a proven offense that works, that’ll come in guns a blazin’, didn’t hear any of that. If you’re hanging on to assistant coaching gigs, or Miami, you’re thin. Cause’ if you want Miami, and the turnaround, you also have to take year one, 1-11. So, exactly, what is his resume’, again, a lot of us wanted a known quantity to come in and win. Good luck to him, and only time will tell, but my excitement meter has not been moved in the slightest bit.

Comment by pantherhead 12.16.10 @ 5:39 pm

I just want Haywood to get a good staff together, hit recruiting hard and actually show he can make adjustments in a game if things aren’t working. Wanny just forged ahead even if he was getting his ass handed to him.

Can’t wait til’ next year.

Comment by Pittastic 12.16.10 @ 5:40 pm

Ditka – Since you are so far up Pedersons’s ass let me put it another way so you can understand. Come out and create excitement. I’m not looking for him to break into flashdance but smile be yourself and leave Mike Tomlins lines to Mike Tomlin. Like Johnny Concrete says Mold Me A BCS Birth. Share your plan Haywood… Oh that’s right he’s making it up as he goes. The hire is terrible. Paying him less than Wanny I bet your ass.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.16.10 @ 5:41 pm

Alright….I’ll probably get pounded for saying this but why is everyone on every blog over the last few days screamed about the virtues of Jamie Dixon. Don’t get me wrong…He seems like a great guy..gets 3-star recruits to win 22 games a year…every year. But when has he ever won the NCAAs? Final Four? I believe a round of 8 one time…and Pitt blew that game while winning with 2 min to go and the ball. It seems like its sweet 16 every year…then lose to Bradley or Kent State..or Marquette…teams we were favored to beat..yet lost. Hell…even WVU has made the final four in the last couple of years. I guess I just see the Sweet 16 as an equal to the Birmingham Bowl or what ever the hell its called.

Everyone is screaming about Wanny and Haywood and BCS games. Which always seems to lead to how great of a hire Dixon was…yet no matter how nice a Big East Championship in basketball is…It doesn’t equal a Final Four game. I understand the appeal of Coach Dixon…I want him to stay at Pitt as long as we can keep him, but, you just can’t elevate a man to god status…until you win something.

Comment by Pitt in Hershey 12.16.10 @ 5:42 pm

you know in reading Ziese’s chat and hearing this press conference…I get the feeling that it really wasn’t about the W-L in the end.

This makes me think that Wanny lost Nordy with the off the field issues, the dropping GPA and that was what did Wanny in.


Comment by DaveD 12.16.10 @ 5:46 pm

Here are the top ten things I’ve learned this week from geniuses like Upittbaseball:

1.) You cant be a good coach unless you make at least $ 3 mil per

2.) You must beentertaining in your press conferences or you are a terrible coach.

3.) MAC football is the equivalent of Single A High School

4.) Dana Holgorsen is a football god.

5.) If you are an athletic director, never smile in public

6.) Every coach in America wanted the Pitt job, Pitt just didn’t want them.

7.) Pitt should spend as much money as possible to pay a coach because they are an elite program like Texas or Florida and the fans pack the stands every week.

8.) You will never win a football game unless you run a spread 5 wide offense.

9.) Mike Leach is the greatest coach to never win a championship. He is the greatest coach that nobody wants.

10.) Selling tickets to the first few games by making a coaching “splash” is far more important than long term success…..

And now I am much smarter!

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.16.10 @ 5:51 pm

Great conference. Check out the recruiting rankings, Scout;
TCU – 29
Pitt – 32
Lville – 38
Cin – 40
Rut – 42
WVU – 51
Syr. – 62
SFla -63
UConn- 84 big bump with BCS berth

Be prepared for great football. Who would want to coach at any of these schools.

Comment by J.P. 12.16.10 @ 6:06 pm

Enough already about splash and excitement. Haywood is a football coach, not a talk show host. I have absolutely no reason to think ill of him right now, and probably won’t until at least the opening game.

Am I the only fan who appreciates the school’s emphasis on off-the-field issues? The football team’s job is to represent the university. Obviously they don’t do a very good job of that when they play poorly, but if they win with high-profile lawbreaking incidents and high dropout rates they aren’t representing the school well either. I strongly support Nordenberg’s emphasis on character in the Athletic Department.

Comment by Navy Panther 12.16.10 @ 6:21 pm

Im not saying Dixon is a god but its nice to have a coach that you would b absolutely insane to fire.

Comment by Tony Cancilla 12.16.10 @ 6:23 pm

Ditka – You forgot this one..

11. Coach Ditka accepts everything the AD Department does as straight from God Almighty. You drink the Football cool aid year after and you are heard repeating “Next year is our year Baby.”

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.16.10 @ 6:39 pm

this was posted on the net in a comments section about Coach Haywood from a Miami Ohio Person: It is very encouraging….I wanna give this guy a chance just like I did Mike Tomlin. I defended Tomlin amoungst my friends, but it was easy too, only b/c it was the Rooney Family hiring, not SP. One would only hope SP would be humble enough to have the Rooney’s screen MH. anyways…

Haywood’s a great coach!
Miami fans, alumni, and students (I’m a senior at Miami) in Oxford Ohio were shocked by the news, and sad to see him go. His first season here he inherited a Montgomery led program that had won two games, and hadn’t been ahead of mediocrity since 2003 when Ben Roethlisberger left. In just two years Haywood took us from the bottom of the MAC where we had been dwelling since 03 to a Championship. Haywood became a staple in the community and on campus. Everyone loves him, and for the most part everyone did even before he got us winning. The guy carries himself in a way that is both humble and powerful, he is a man who demands respect. Plus if he brings Carl “Bull” Reese (one of the best defensive coaches in college football history) as D coordinator along with him, you can bet that when TCU (who had the #1 overall defense in college football this year) comes to the Big East, Pitt will challenge them as the best D in the conference, and heck maybe the country. Did you see what Haywood and Reese were able to do with a Miami defense this year (think Florida first week of the season) just imagine what they’ll be able to do with Big East recruits! Haywood coaches his players to be men. He plays the best players with no favoritism. All of my friends on the Redhawk football team think he’s the greatest coach they’ve ever played for. The man can motivate like no other. Hockey rules here in Oxford, and at a recent Hockey game I was broadcasting for the student radio station, Haywood came on the ice after the second period and got a louder cheer and ovation than any of the hockey players did that night. Go ahead and knock him now but your football players, student body, alum, and boosters will soon fall in love with him. The man is just one of those guys who has an aura about him. On top of it all he’s a tireless recruiter, his classes at Miami have been some of the best in recent memory, and I can only hope that whoever is the next coach here in Oxford, they’ll be able to lock up this years class before they start looking elsewhere. He’s got an awesome eye for talent as well, made evident by the fact that Miami was the only other division 1 school, other than Tulane to offer Dion Lewis a scholarship! When he was hired here in Oxford, I was like you — I was like, who? But now two years later I’m wiping off my tears away as he leaves. For you nay-sayers who point to Haywood’s losing record in his first season, I’ll remind you that Bo Shembechler and Woody Hayes both had losing records in their first losing seasons in Oxford as well, and we remember how they turned out. In a couple of years we’ll be chalking up another one for “The Cradle of Coaches,” and it will be you Pitt fans wiping away tears and saying, “Please don’t go!” as Haywood uses his success at Pitt to springboard onto bigger and better things — he was a former assistant at LSU and Texas and those jobs might be open in the not too distant future, and seriously how long will Lane Kiffin be at USC? Enjoy him while you got him Pitt, cause it won’t be long!

Comment by blaise novotny 12.16.10 @ 6:41 pm

If I heard him correctly at the Press Conference, Pederson just claimed that he only ever contacted 5 Head Coaches (no coordinators). If this is true, we sure heard a lot of false rumors this past week. I’m glad a few people here have had a sane and rational reaction to it all. Have fun!

Comment by SD Pitt '69 12.16.10 @ 6:42 pm

The biggest problem I see, that most people fell for, was the influence and impact of that large elephant in the room, MEDIA HYPE. NOTHING IS ANYTHING IN AMERICA WITHOUT MEDIA HYPE.

America & American sports has become dominated by media hype. They can convince most people what they’re watching is not really accurate. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys were still being continually hyped by the Media, while our eyes were watching them lose, week after week. Media hype had everyone convinced the year 2000 would be fraught with disaster and now everyone can tell you about Global Warming because of media hype. This while Britain, Scotland, France & Germany are having record cold & snow not seen like this for a 100 years this late in the fall. Winter doesn’t officially begin until Dec. 22nd.

I forgot who said it, but they said, if you tell something long enough, and loud enough, whether accurate or not, people start believing it.

Politicians know this fact all too well. (it might have been a pol, quoted above)

Since last year the Media has told anyone that would listen how great Al Golden is/was/will be.
In actuality it was nothing but hype. The guy NEVER beat a winning team in the MAC(0-14) and never won a division of the MAC(for those that don’t know, the MAC has 2 divisions, they were farther along with that concept than the Big 10), let alone win a MAC championship. Perhaps it was because he coached in a media haven like Philadelphia, or because of his connections or whatever. Whatever it was, it was mostly MEDIA HYPE. For the casual observer this most certainly works (or they wouldn’t do it), but for those who dig a little deeper, hype is usually anything but reality.

Most of you were really disappointed after ALL the MEDIA HYPE heaped upon some schmoe from Okie State, who none of you ever heard of 1 and 1/2 weeks ago. Without that media hype, you wouldn’t have even cared that wvu hired him, you would have most assuredly said ……’WHO ?’

Perhaps if Zeise and others in the media would have presented Haywood properly, as in Pitt is interested:
1) The MAC Coach of the Year
2) Coach of the team ESPN called the best turnaround story in FBS in 2010 (from 1-11 to 9-4)
3) As the coach who beat (hyped) Al Golden, 23-3 in order to win the MAC championship
4) As the former OC of Notre Dame for 4 years
5)As the former recruiting director for U of Texas
6) As the former LB, DE coach for LSU

I would be willing to bet, that if Haywood would have been presented properly by the media, you ALL would feel a lot different about this hire.

You call all blame SP all you want, but the real culprit here is the media. Because they distorted the truth(or didn’t tell it completely) to make this guy seem like he was less qualified than Golden & the Okie. When in fact, based on his resume, he had MORE qualifications than both of them. And has accomplished more than both of them.

But hey, who wants mere facts to get in the way of media hype.

Peace Out

Comment by carolinapanther 12.16.10 @ 6:47 pm

i thought it was a great press conference, our new head coach isn’t soft and won’t be soft on his player.

Comment by Henry Hynoceros 12.16.10 @ 6:52 pm

I have no issue with cleaning up the off-field issues. I did not realize it was that big of a problem, or that the university thinks it is that big of an issue. On top of that, a fresh approach to coaching, preparation, focus, and recruiting cannot be a bad thing. If it is, then I will trust they will pull the plug (I am still shocked at how they forced out Wanny!)

Comment by Greg 12.16.10 @ 6:53 pm

Very well thought out post carolinapanther.
And I agree with you.

We really got the real deal here, not the media hyped candidate.

Haygood will do really well for Pitt. This guy has learned from some of the best coaches in America and he’s not a flake. Good job Pederson.

Now get the script back !

Comment by B 12.16.10 @ 6:56 pm

I’m getting a little tired of hearing how Jamie Dixon is an average coach because he never got to the Final 4. I guess Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, and Harmon Killebrew were lousy baseball players, too, since they never won a World Series. And that Dan Marino guy, and Fran Tarkenton? Pretenders. Not a Super Bowl win for either of them. And who told John Stockton, Elgin Baylor, and Karl Malone they knew how to play basketball? Win an NBA championship and maybe we’ll consider you decent players. Yeah, that Jamie Dixon is a bum.

Comment by Jimbo63 12.16.10 @ 7:10 pm

Hmm, having trouble accessing the press conference here:

link to

Is it just me?

Comment by steve 12.16.10 @ 7:25 pm

Out team was incredibly weak-minded this year and absolutley choked under all the media hype. They need some discipline and Haywood has my support. I’d like to see what he can do

Comment by Tony Cancilla 12.16.10 @ 7:29 pm

Great post carolinapanther……presentaion is everything. I wish him well along with the university.
Not many college /pro schoos draw well (e.g. Miami). I would venture to say even when Pitt was in it’s glory their attnedance was marginal at best.
It’s this simple… people will pay to see a quality product but there needs to be production on the “big stage”

Comment by zero93 12.16.10 @ 7:30 pm

I’m hopeful as always, but underwhelmed by this selection.

When do we officially join the MAC?

Comment by CJK 12.16.10 @ 7:48 pm

Dittos here carolina…I thought the news conference was great and I was very impressed with the new coach….until I started tuning into Pittsburgh Sports news on several channels only to learn it was a”funeral” and that this coach did not talk very much about football..and boy, alums are probably not very happy.

My Lord, it was his first news conference and what he showed me was that he was a real person and not going to just spout off what the “media” wants to hear.

I am an old school coach, believe in creating good habits and good character players who can actually ‘think” and “react” on the field while they are playing. Not a bunch of puppets who need to be told by the coach where to line up on each play.

Hope he puts together a good staff and gets the recruits that fit his model of what a student athlete at Pitt should be. It will be interesting to see which recruits heard that “coat and tie” thing and the 6AM practice thing and make their decisions accordingly. Suspect a lot of Wanny’s recruits are having second thoughts each way.
Good. I am calling for my season tickets tomorrow.

Comment by Dan 72 12.16.10 @ 7:50 pm

Finally got to watch it. He’s a no-nonsense guy who you won’t find havin’ a few at the corner tavern.

Comment by steve 12.16.10 @ 7:56 pm

Upittbaseball, I dont want to get into some back and forth name calling with you. If you’ve actually read any of my posts you will see that I haven’t drank any Kool aid and I am not defending Steve Pedersen. What I am saying is that I refuse to bash our new head coach based on the candidates we didn’t get. I feel he should be given the opportunity to prove himself on the field with wins and losses before I give my opinion of his hiring. That’s all, end of story.

You have apparently written him off before he’s ever coached a game, and thats your opinion, but I just don’t see the logic there. Many great coaches have come from small teams and have done very well. Chip Kelly of Oregon spent 15 years at New Hampshire (a 1AA program) as a coordinator and here they are playing for a national title. I just believe Haywood deserves a chance to earn our respect.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.16.10 @ 7:58 pm

I have come absolutely full circle on this whole mess. On the ride home from the office, I was literally roaring and howling. First, the presser, Steve, if I have a sales opening, I’ll make sure you’re on the bottom of my list to call. LMAO.

In his best John Facenda voice….”with wins, which..includes….wins against Temple…and…..Northen Illinois”. I guess the Temple thing was like a little childish, “we got the better coach than Miami Fla, cause he beat him head to head, na na, na na, na, na!!

My ride got better, one of the guys on the radio was priceless, “look, it’s like you had a guy that got a C+ on his term paper, ok, fine, put it up on the fridge…now, you want a 3.5 or a 4.0, and this is not who you get if you’re really shooting for A’s and B’s” Bingo!!

He had another great one, it’s like they got five guys, brought them into the interview room, handed them an envelope with a salary written down on it, and said, “ok, which one of you guys can coach for that”. haha comic relief!!

Great other point they made, guy is set up for brutality, cause if he opens up 1-3, 2-4 with a little bit of talent left in the cupboard, he’s early toast.

I sometimes think, Nordenberg and Pederson are actually taunting Pitt fans!!! Howling typing this, I can actually see them the night before, having a beer, “ok, we’ll get them, wait till they see this, Mark, watch their faces drop when I wheel this pick out on them!!”…”ha ha, gotcha!!” LOL

Have to tell ya, several people at the office know I’m a Pitt guy, two or three of them came up to me today and said, “he, what the hell goes on down at Pitt”, the anger had subsided from the past week, all I could muster was “who the hell knows”

Comment by Dan 12.16.10 @ 8:05 pm

Here’s one, save all the, WVU has no class, they’re embarrassing crap, (by the way, we’re pretty damn embarrassing too), but, stricly football speaking, football only, no how they handled it crap, football only!!!!! No, I’m proud of our men garbage, stricly football…..

Who do you think gets in the Top 10 and goes to a BCS bowl first???
Pitt or WVU ????

and yes, neither is an acceptable answer!!!! goodnight all!!

Comment by Dan 12.16.10 @ 8:11 pm

If you know a player, ask them how their meeting went. His rules and schedule have them in shock. I venture to say that we would not have had to watch Baldwin quitting on his routes and worrying about his pro career. We may lose some transfers, but the ones that stay will WORK and be a team.

Comment by Pwmcdupitt 12.16.10 @ 8:14 pm

As i said before give Haywood a chance but he must win 9 or 10 games first year or he is a bust.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.16.10 @ 8:24 pm

One of the commentators who covers college football today said on the Scott Paulsen show that he thought it was a great hire. He has shown a proven ability to get the most talent out of his players. In my opinion, that means that if we actually do have top 15 talent, then our team will play like it. All of this stuff about the spread, etc,is overlooking the fact that we had numerous problems in all areas of our team: offense, defense, special teams. This guy comes highly recommended by a number of top coaches (like Mike Tomlin–that has worked out pretty well for the Steelers!!) But the biggest problem we had was dealing with adversity–lack of confidence, and lack of heart. I think that this guy could be the answer–and with no connection to any of the current players, and looking at things with a fresh eye–he could be exactly what we need to bring out the best in Pitt.

Comment by pitt60 12.16.10 @ 8:41 pm

Coach Ditka – You make some good points… How bout a truce? We both want the same thing I promise you. Just wanted to get the right guy, a coach we could be proud of… Good Luck my friend. If you are in Louisiana give me a holler and we can go watch a High School Game or watch the LSU Tigers. It’s a crazy experience. 100k and they are crazy. Make Pitt Fans look rational. Haha.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.16.10 @ 8:45 pm

While I would have rather Pitt finally open up the wallet and go for a higher profile coach, I thought it was a good press conference and that both SP and Coach Haywood were impressive.

Comment by HbgFrank 12.16.10 @ 8:54 pm

First, welcome Coach Haywood. I think you have a good chance of being a success. We got your back for awhile. And even if things go south, most of us will turn on Pederson first. If we haven’t already.

Second, great post Chas.

Third, since when is Pitt above hiring an alcoholic coach, or was Johnny Majors sober more often than I thought?

Comment by Lee in Altoona 12.16.10 @ 8:56 pm

He said more of what he would do and how he would do it than DW did in 6 years…you all wanted someone who would turn the program around – well out of the 5 head coaches (no coordinators) who were interviewed – you got him…assuming he gets a good bunch of recruits Pitt will be 9-3 next year.

Comment by markp 12.16.10 @ 9:11 pm

Just watched the press conference
link to

(discipline) “very important that gentleman dress like you play”

“offensive philosophy…we are a run play action football team”

“you have to be a physical dominate football team for 60 mins”

(approach) “we create mismatches”

(offensive strategy) “we are a multiple formation team”

(approach) “Starters should play one or two special teams”

(special team) “special teams changes the game…”

(recruiting)”recruiting is about relationships…relationships with high school coaches”

(regarding old coaching staff) “we are going to interview everyone on staff…we would like to retain one or two gentleman that on this staff…we are going to give everyone an opportunity to interview”

(regarding recruiting players)”no need to go out and get a player that doesnt fit your system”

(regarding being considered by other universities) “I would say that I had multiple contacts with universities during this point in time and west virginia was one of them…I’ve always wanted to be here at Pittsburgh”

(regarding existing players recruited by previous coaches) “players develop an orphan system…you have to let them know how much to really believe in them”

“are you familiar with freddy cougar? with freddy coagar everyone that thinks that Freddy Cougar is dead and all of a sudden Freddy Cougar keeps coming back. You have to be dangerous and relentless for 60 mins. When you fall down or get knocked down on the canvas how fast do you get back up? and those are the things. and those are the things. you have to be a physical dominant football team for 60 mins and the score board doesnt matter. you might as well drape it.”

Here is my take:

1) very focused and committed to discipline and success

2) understands that you must adjust (talked about creating mismatches on the field)

3) understands that the best players must be on the field including special teams

4) understands how to get the most attention out of his players without distraction (6AM practice)

5) the guy is intense and will demand accountability which is what the current staff and players lack

6) will bring high energy to the program

7) makes you want to strap it up and go fight with him

8)tough as nails!!!!

I like him. It is easy to see how Pederson was sold on this guy. Sometimes when you see it and hear it you know right then that you have the right guy. This is the right guy for the right moment.

Hail to PITT


Comment by PITT fan in Atlanta 12.16.10 @ 9:16 pm

Thanks for your impressions of the press conference, Atlanta.

The more I read about Haywood, the more I like him. We may have stumbled into another Dixon-esque good hire.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 12.16.10 @ 9:26 pm

Finally got to see the press conference. I was really impressed and am psyched about next year.

PITT fan in Atlanta pretty much summed it up.

Comment by A 12.16.10 @ 9:36 pm

Supposedly his current players say that you’re never safe at your position and that there is intense competition for playing time and position on the depth chart each week. That strategy is part of the reason why USC was so great under Pete Carroll (of course they had the depth to do it too).

Any way you cut it, competition week in and week out was not something that DW’s staff employed. Certain guys were cemented in once the coaching staff determined they were the 1st teamer and no amount of missed assignments, mistakes, fumbles, interceptions, half-assed routes or pass interference penalties changed that.

Comment by TJ 12.16.10 @ 9:39 pm

“very important that gentleman dress like you play”

I actually think he meant to flip this.

I know what I’d have said given the pressure: “You have to dress before you play.”

Comment by steve 12.16.10 @ 9:42 pm

Ok lets have some fun for OC i like Robert Anae BYU or Mark Whipple Miami. for DC Tom Bradley or Micheal Barrow Miami. and as a after thought Greg Davis Texas. good picks or bad what do you think.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.16.10 @ 9:52 pm

Great points, carolinapanther and PITT fan in Atlanta. Actually, IMHO Haywood’s words were not directed at us, and he certainly wasn’t pandering to the media. He was talking to the kids currently on the team, the HS coaches, and the parents of Pitt’s players and recruits tuning in.

Dan: I also heard “Pony and the Punter” via the Internet. Basically, Haywood left them with little to disect, again because he wasn’t talking to the media at his presser. So they were reduced to making jokes about him. I thought Filiponi took his usual idiotic stance, which I recall you once said you hated about him. I was amused by Miller’s envelopes example, but he was also all over the place on his stance agreeing with almost every caller regardless of what side the person was on. They’re talk radio guys, so what do you expect? They’re basically the bottom-feeders of sports media. They have to “entertain” their audience and get people to call.

And, to answer your question: WVU may get to a BCS game and higher ranking first, but I think Haywood gets Pitt there more often. I also think Holgorsen’s gone to the next highest bidder before he ever finishes his contract at WVU. Just my opinion.

Comment by TampaT 12.16.10 @ 10:03 pm

saw the presser, lets give this guy a chance. he sounds like a no nonsense guy. if he gets rid of some spoiled thugs, brats, divas from our team good. I liked Wanny but maybe his kids were getting a bit out of hand. They were terribly soft mentally this season Also….I coud give a crap @ the douche from oklahoma that I never heard of before this week. Stop being envious of the ‘neers. What have they done lately either?

Finally…… we’re gonna go undefeated next year. have faith!!!! give this guy a chance

good luck haygood!

Comment by mike 12.16.10 @ 10:09 pm

I am very disappointed by this whole process. If Pederson was not going to hire an established head coach, then we were better off keeping Wannstedt for another year and avoiding this procedural disaster.

Comment by matt42 12.16.10 @ 10:23 pm

At this point Oliver Luck appears to win the day. Haywood will have more than he can handle with what will be scoring machines Pitt cannot stop. West virginia dominated pitt winning six of the past 10 games. Don’t see that changing

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.16.10 @ 10:48 pm

I too just watched the video. In a word, I was IMPRESSED. Coach Haywood is not Leno nor Letterman. He has not been hired to be talk show host or a political demagogue, He is a mentor of football players; young men who aspire to be a credit to their team, their university and their community. He seems straight forward, honest and genuine. Ask me in five tears if he was successful, whatever that means. In my opinion , the Panthers chose the right man. Hail to Haywood! Hail to Pitt!!. Rev. George from Columbus.

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 12.16.10 @ 10:50 pm

The hire today speaks volumes. I will NEVER be fooled again when the Pitt administration says they are committed to returning to the glory days of Pitt football.

They aren’t.

Pitt is now officially a basketball school. Steve, you had better just pass out the flags and get the team ready for the intramural flag football league.

I have nothing against Mr. Haywood, I am sure he’s everything that people have been talking about, but he wasn’t the right choice.

ALL you people with your head up Steve’s ass better not tell me when this guy goes 6-6 that we have to “wait a couple of years until he gets the coaches and recruits HE wants in.” I also better not hear that Wanny didn’t leave him any talent either. The talent is there. I ain’t buying it. You went for the cheap, bargain basement sale. Sure he wants the Pitt job, he’s not going to make $700K at Miami of Ohio. What a great gig.

The man is 10-15 and has TWO whole years of experience as a HC. If he was the genius and such a catch that some are saying he is, he would have been hired after being the coordinator at LSU and ND. IF Steve really interviewed 5 other coaches, I’m willing to bet the other 4 laughed at the salary. Even the hoopies opened up their revenue from the still and paid for a coach.

Don’t give me the Jamie Dixon crap either. He’s not being paid a whole lot compared to other coaches. He was hired by Long and not Steve, they already knew him, the players wanted him and they knew what they had. If you remember right, they almost didn’t offer him the job either.


We are now Third class citizens (behind the second class smokers) on the food chain.

Steve Pedersen is lower than a snake oil salesman (apologies to the snake oil salesmen). He’s a carpet bagger and a liar. He’s looked me in the eye and lied to me more than once. He has no idea what he’s doing and he proved that again with this hire.

all those years of defending this program and drinking the kool-aid are done. The kool-aid has left a sour taste in my mouth.

Comment by WH 12.16.10 @ 11:07 pm

I like Mike Haywood. Let’s go Pitt! I will be in the stands to see you whip Buffalo on opening day!

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 12.16.10 @ 11:13 pm

BG Panther, heres my early season prediction, Pitt 17 Buffalo 13 Sorry, gonna take a long while to get unjaded!!

Comment by Johnny Concrete 12.16.10 @ 11:25 pm

Don’t believe what I said was true? Here’s what Paul Ziese wrote:

“Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson hosted a news conference to announce the hiring of Michael Haywood and while there was a whole lot said about character and discipline and integrity and academics, there was very little said about winning championships and about becoming the dominant program in the Big East.”

He went on:

“But I don’t know – and I could be wrong and I’ll listen to the tapes (about 40 minutes in all between the news conference and two individual sessions) — that I heard Pederson say “he is here because the last guy didn’t win enough” and I don’t know that I heard Haywood say “academics and discipline are important, but this is a bottom line business and winning is the bottom line.”

Translation: As long as the players don’t get arrested, you can be mediocre. We don’t care, it’s only the football team. Your job is to baby sit.

Am I being to hard? Am I reading this wrong? Am I so full of $^*& that my eyes are brown? (Actually, they’re hazel) Am I being hateful?

The answer to this is Maybe, I might be, No and yes.

The point is I LOVE this school with every fiber of my body. I want to return to greatness and despite what people say, I KNOW it can be done.

But I am also a realist. I’ve stopped drinking from the company water fountain. They really don’t care. IF they did, they would have made an upgrade. They would have really opened the pocket book and convinced a PROVEN HC that Pitt is the place to be.

I use to respect MN. I thought he wanted to bring a winning tradition back to Pitt. After this whole process, from canning Wanny, to this whole finding a “quality” coach debacle I have lost all respect for the whole lot of them.

All they really wanted was a baby sitter and they got one at a discounted price.

Comment by WH 12.16.10 @ 11:34 pm

Now that the dust has settled on this, some thoughts, dudes…

1. I, like many, was hoping to see the program take a big step towards bringing things out of the ultra-conservative, play-not-to-lose styles of the Wannstache and into something much closer to the 21st century. While I hoped they might reach out to bigger names like Mike Leach and Chris Peterson, those were mostly pipe dreams from the start. It’s been said that Leach isn’t really being considered by anyone until there’s some resolution to his lawsuit against Texas Tech. And Peterson? Guys in head coaching positions like Peterson don’t go from programs like Boise to Pitt. Much like Urban Meyer did, they go from programs like Boise to programs like Florida. Big East programs tend to look either to coordinators at larger programs or in the head coaching ranks in Conf. USA or the MAC. It’s just where Pitt is in the hierarchy of Division I college football. I’m OK with that, as our conference has seen teams have success with both approaches (Kelly was a former MAC HC, RichRod a former ACC coordinator).

2. With those two almost certainly not in the picture, the next biggest name was Holgorsen, who I think most fans latched onto because his offensive approach was the a complete 180 from what we saw under Wannstedt. When Zeise and others started mentioning him as a name of interest and then even plugged him as Pitt’s top choice, I can’t blame people for being upset when it didn’t happen, and even moreso when he ends up at Pitt’s biggest rival.

All that said, the more I see of Holgorsen, the more I wonder if he really is capable of running a program as a head coach and based on much of what I’ve read, those concerns may be fairly substantiated. No one knows. I guess we’ll see.

3. I was never really certain any of the other options were markedly better than Haywood. Dokish mentioned Bronko Mendenhall out of BYU, but in the same breath also said BYU had enough $$ to keep him around, so that was probably another pipe dream. I don’t really believe Golden or Tom Bradley would’ve been better fits. Bradley would bring stability and a recognizable name, but PSU’s recruiting cache isn’t what it’s been in the past. And I’m not sure he’s much more advanced in Bradley would’ve been in his approaches than both Golden and Wannstedt – guys who coach that conservative, pro-style approach. Brady Hoke would’ve bolted the minute Michigan’s job came open.

4. Recruiting. Judging by the calls to the Fan yesterday, I didn’t realize Wannstedt’s dismissal immediately caused all the bridges he repaired from the Walt Harris Era to come crumbling down. Nor did I realize “a Pittsburgh guy” is the only one capable of keeping them propped up.

Please. The WPIAL is fine to build a solid recruiting base and I’m sure the local coaches won’t shut this guy out simply because he’s not Dave Wannstedt or doesn’t speak Yinzer.

One of the things I like about Haywood are the reports that he continues to recruit from the places he coached before, including Texas, Louisiana and Ohio. He had ten kids from TX on his Miami roster this past season – eight of whom he recruited in the 2009/2010 classes. He also pulled several kids from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia. If he can continue to utilize those kinds of recruiting footprints, I can live with that.

I don’t know what kind of quality kids he can get now that he’s recruiting for a more recognizable name, but you can win in college football with a scheme that compensates for talent, and he said he believes multiple-option offenses. I can live with that, too.

All told, I can’t say I’m blown away by this hire, but the more I read of him and from what I saw of his press conference today, the more I like this guy.

They say he tends to delegate a lot of responsibilities to his assistants, which is something Wannstedt didn’t always do.

He seems to have a good grasp of how a program needs to be run, which is something Wannstedt didn’t always seem to have.

His defenses play fast and aggressive and he reportedly loves to attack with a blitz, which is something Pitt’s defenses did not do under Wannstedt/Bennett.

I’ll be interested to see how he does here.

Comment by Stoosh 12.16.10 @ 11:38 pm

I still haven’t seen anyone or hear anyone say anything bad about the guy. So, we can quit with the give the guy a chance stuff. We’re all going to give the guy a chance, what else can we do, hopefully he comes out and spanks Buffalo 45-10. We’re allowed to have opinions on the hires previous position and resume’, aren’t we???

Please though, stop with the fooling yourself thing. Don’t look to hard for any hidden meanings, or how someone said something, yes, it’s as obvious as it seems. Pitt went cheap. There is absolutely no committment to being a premier football team. They went cheap, they went Same Old Pitt. It’s so blatantly obvious, that I think a lot of us, including myself, are looking to see what’s there. Quit looking, we hired a guy that was a MAC head coach for TWO years. That’s all, not getting on the guy, it is just exactly what we see. As for a turn around, hey, he could have gone 3-9 in his third year at Miami for all we know. We have no body of work to go on. Good luck to him, hey, I’m a Pitt guy, I’ll be cheering next September, but, please, stop fooling yourselves into this is something bigger than we know.

Out of all the head coaches, O.C.s, D.C.s, in college and pros, all over this vast, expansive country, “we got exactly who we wanted”, really Steve, c’mon buddie, really???? “We didn’t look into the pro’s, or coordinators”, Steve, do you think we’re that stupid. Cross them off, that way, when someone says, did you call so and so, you can say, “no we didn’t, we decided we were not looking in that area”. Did you call John Smith at Arkansas or Sam Jones at Iowa, “no, I told you we weren’t looking at coordinators”

No head coach in the top 20 is going to come, money-wise and prestige, would be a move backward. Anyone in in the top 20 to top 50, would be a lateral move. So, now, you’ve eliminated, any pro’s, and coordinators, anyone out of football, and as stated above, any top 1 through 50 head coaches.

This leaves us with, college head coaches, 50 to 120. And his answer would be, “we got who we wanted”. What he should have said is, “we got who we wanted, after eliminating %85 of the field.

No negative, go Pitt, just the truth, the truth can’t be negative or positive, it’s just the plain old truth.

Comment by Titusville Tim 12.16.10 @ 11:47 pm

Tim, you enlightened me, and realize what possibly was going on. I think Steve was letting us know that this isn’t his pick. This has got to be all Nordy. Like the fella above, keep the kids out of trouble and go mediocre and don’t bother me. For Steve to say, we didn’t want to talk to A,B,C,D,E and F groups, that only leaves G group. Out of G, we kinda got our pick. Brilliant!!! I’ve been a critic of Steve’s, but, I must say, didn’t seem to have the normal energy and smugness today. I mean, c’mon, if your an Athletic Director, hell, you want to talk to Knute Rockne and Pop Warner if you can. Nordy had to tell him, cross these groups right off your list, like you said, good points by the way, 1-20 ain’t comin’, 20-50 would be sideways, and that left Steve the people he could choose from. I think what we might be seeing possibly, is the de-emphasis of football at Pitt. We all thought they got rid of Wanny because of his record, performance and fans ire. After all the fuss maybe it just was the off the field stuff Nordy was concerned with, hhhhmmmmmm. Wow.

Comment by Dan 12.17.10 @ 12:10 am

Hey, no one joined my poll about who would get a BCS game and a top ten ranking in the polls first. Pitt or West Virginia party poopers!!

Comment by Dan 12.17.10 @ 12:12 am

Pitt fan in Atlanta, you outta print that out, every football coach says the same things. We have to be physical, we have to create mismatches, we want good relationships with the local high school coaches, on and on. Nothing original at all. By the way, lots of coaches have their players in sport coats and ties on gamedays, quite a few actually. Oh, you mean he’ll have them take their hats off at dinner on Thursday nights. Fantastic, yeah!!!!!!

Comment by Stuttgart 12.17.10 @ 12:27 am

Urgent, breaking news, OC and DC to be named tomorrow at noon. O.C. from Marietta, D.C. from Thomas Jefferson High!! Sounds about right, got the Ohio connection, and DW is from Baldwin, I think T.J. is out that way, smells right!!

Comment by Stuttgart 12.17.10 @ 12:35 am

I answered your question at 10:03, Dan.

“And, to answer your question: WVU may get to a BCS game and higher ranking first, but I think Haywood gets Pitt there more often. I also think Holgorsen’s gone to the next highest bidder before he ever finishes his contract at WVU. Just my opinion.”

Comment by TampaT 12.17.10 @ 12:42 am

Why pursue the very best when you can go after excellence in mediocreity!
Pederson gets my vote as the grinch who stole Pitt football!!
@Dan I like that angle also, but when it comes down to it stevo will lose his job and career way before Nordy will and who will look like the Idiot?

Comment by POLE 12.17.10 @ 12:47 am

“Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is for five years.”

The reason why the amount is undisclosed is because it is embarrassingly low.

We know the salary range of EVERY other Coach hired in the last couple of weeks but one, ours.

While this does NOT speak to Coach Haywood’s ability to do his job it certainly speaks what Pitt’s AD was willing to spend a year on a new coach.

When Steve says “we got exactly who we wanted” I absolutely believe that to be a true statement.

They were not willing to pay ANYONE more then what they were paying Wanny and they got exactly what they wanted.

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 12.17.10 @ 12:47 am

This is frightening. Not everyone is in love with Haywood….From a post over on NBC Sports

link to

The sock you want to put in Ben’s mouth would be the matching pair to the sock Haywood holds. These two guys are one in the same. While Ben finds them in the bathroom of a bar, Haywood finds them on the campus of the University who employs him. He has and continues to have sex with former students from every school he has coached at. He even had a sexual harassment complaint filed against him at Lsu during his time as a coach there. So while you judge the character of Saban, realize that Haywood was taking lessons and implamenting them into his personal life.
Ask any coach that he has worked for, along with the secretaries of the football offices and you will find that they all share one common link. Mike Haywood is a lying, cheating, scum-bag!
If that doesn’t sway you, reach out to his relators who he sleeps with or the local restaraunts/bars and you shall find a woman with whom he has had sexual relations with. The staff at Pitt will soon realize what type of man they hired. The AD…”he is the type of man we were looking for”… if that man is a disgusting PIG, I think he is at the wrong school. I thought your mascot was a Panther? You can put lipstick on a PIG, but it’s still a PIG!!!

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 12.17.10 @ 12:55 am

^^^ Tony, two things jump out with your quote…

One – You do realize Haywood is single, right? Sleeping with women? Horrors. the fact that he sleeps with Realtors is rather strange given there is no need with today’s low interest rates, but hey – to each his own.

Second – you are quoting a “post” and not an established media report. Hell, I can get on a message board and post that I’m the greatest Military Officer that ever lived and it sure as hell would be true.

Did you somehow miss the tone of the posters last sentence… “if that man is a disgusting PIG, I think he is at the wrong school. I thought your mascot was a Panther? You can put lipstick on a PIG, but it’s still a PIG!!!”

That right there tells me the poster has a huge personal axe to grind with this man… I’m no Rush Limbaugh fan but the word “FemiNazi” comes to mind.

Man, you got to do way better than this if you want to enter into an adult conversation on this guy’s merits.

Comment by Reed 12.17.10 @ 4:11 am

Guys, everyday there has been more and more come out about what went into PITT’s decision making in removing Dave Wannstedt and, I have to say that those posters who are surprised that PITT had major problems off the field just were not following PITT football very closely.

Read both Paul Zeise’s Chat of 12/16, his Redshirt Diaries Blog of 12/17 and Kevin Gorman’s commentary of 12/17. The program was in a shambles if the field… which led directly to their poor performances on the field…which led to losing football games also. Don’t get me wrong, Wannstedt obviously had fired himself with his inability over the years to close the deal and win with the talent he had… but when this team fell apart (since preseason) and he lost control over the players, and he did, it sealed his fate.

There will be more about this as time goes on I’m sure, but understand this – we fans only heard about what was “official” news – either public arrest reports or formal internal PITT discipline that was released by the SID. Believe me, there was a lot more going on in the locker room (and Zeise has mentioned this also) than we read about.

It was absolutely no coincidence that PITT hired a guy who is know for his disciplinary approach.

Comment by Reed 12.17.10 @ 4:21 am

^^^ Links for those references…

Gorman at the Trib:

link to

Zeise’s Friday Blog:

link to

Comment by Reed 12.17.10 @ 4:31 am

Reed, I think that inane poster used the term “relator,” not “realtor.”

Someone who relates I guess is a relator, not a relater.

Otherwise the very idea of our new Coach having a housing fetish makes ones mind boggle.

Comment by steve 12.17.10 @ 7:15 am

Nice that hoops were off this week,so we could concentrate on football hire. Maryland Eastern shore in town on sat.

Comment by alcofan 12.17.10 @ 8:02 am

Looking at this hire after 24-hours to digest it, what a sack of shit Nordenberg and Pederson have sold us. Sorry, guys, been around this stinky Pitt program with its pompous chancellors and idiot athletic directors for a long time. Nothing about Haywood – and anyone can give a rousing speech – impresses. The new motto should be “It’s Carl DePasqua time again!”
You younsters on here have all the optimism you want. Enjoy another pro set offense and close games (WTF – didn’t he win a number of games by seven or fewer points?)with Rutgers and Buffalo at the off campus stadium. Following Pitt football for 43 years as taught me my initial impressions are usually right-on. We get Paul Hackett’s discipline (that worked out so well) and Wannstedt’s game plan….Cheap is the operative word. Cheap hire, cheap tickets, bowl bids with cheap payouts. Hey, sign me up now!

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.17.10 @ 8:20 am

ESPN college fb live really loved the hire, also Mel Kiper liked it much better than the Holgorsen hire at WVU

Comment by Henry Hynoceros 12.17.10 @ 8:20 am

Pitt fails when there is hype.. and not a big name coach… the hype is much less… maybe Pitt actually turns around…but here’s hoping.

Comment by Snala The Panther 12.17.10 @ 9:17 am

Sorry if this has already been posted but I have actually been doing work at work.

My thoughts around Pederson are he is earning his paycheck and not rocking the boat. During his first tenure, he came in and shook things up. The athletic dept desperately needed some house cleaning and a new direction. However, in the back of his mind he was building his resume for his dream job at Nebraska. Now that his dream has gone up in flames he returns to Pitt with his tail between his legs. His career outside of Pitt is limited. I doubt any big D1 school would hire him. Now there is no reward for taking risks so why take them? Keep the boss happy and do just enough to keep your job.

The one thing I was pleased to see with the hiring process was that they were actually looking for a football coach. Normally the selection process involves detailing the amount of pierogies you have eaten and finding Millvale on map while blindfolded. Coaching football was a bonus!

I’ll give Haywood a shot, he deserves it until proven otherwise.

Comment by Yeti 12.17.10 @ 9:43 am

Tony in Houston,
I’ve missed one home football game since 1971, and that feeling of cheap is all over this move. Your sentiments are mine. We have witnessed this all before, the more things change in Pitt football the more they remain the same. This hiring is fishy, to hire a coach with name recognition would have cost money. I’m tired of the Pitt mailings asking for funds to add to their billion dollar endowment. The buck stops here .

Comment by Marty 12.17.10 @ 9:45 am

@ TampaT. True, but won’t Haywood be gone to the highest bidder also???

@ Pole. I was being totally sincere too, and for me to show any sympathy towards Steve is really saying something. But if Nordy told him, no pros, no coords, no one that has been out of football, that eliminates half. You know no top 20 head coaches are coming, middle of the pack lateral move, really left Steve with only a few choices. I really don’t know if Steve will be the scapegoat though, I’m just wondering if Nordy has it right where he wants it. I mean, I always heard Nordy was big on athletics, but, what do I know, that’s just from reading things.

@ Reed “established media report” , ha ha, I don’t know, think I’d trust some posters more!!!

Comment by pantherhead 12.17.10 @ 9:47 am

Hey, I know it’s Friday, around the holidays, but, if anyone gets a chance, the FSD or Div 1-AA, still can’t figure why they changed that and what it means, anyhow, the playoffs games tonight and tomorrow. I don’t watch the whole games or anything, but, not bad to flip on for 5 or 10 minutes. Very intense crowds, allthough small, really into it. The crowds remind me of a lot of the smaller basketball conferences championship games, when an NCAA bid is on the line.

Comment by Dan 12.17.10 @ 9:55 am

Oh, Friday and Holidays, just meant I know everyone is busy and flying around. If you get a chance though, better than dancing with the stars!!

Comment by Dan 12.17.10 @ 9:56 am

One obvious and critical issue confronting Heywood and his soon-to-be assembled (hopefully) staff is retaining recruits. A quick check in Chris Peak reveals a list of 2011 recruits that is shrinking fast. Only one four star remains out of the nine that are listed. There used to be about 20 on that list.

Comment by Jerome Lane 12.17.10 @ 9:59 am

I like that Haywood plans to expand our recruiting footprint:

“Haywood, a native of Houston, Texas, has recruited extensively in the Midwest and South. He said Pitt will focus its recruiting efforts in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C.; Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan as well as Texas, Louisiana and Florida.”

Comment by Pittastic 12.17.10 @ 10:15 am

he better recruit well, all the big names are gone and the list is only 8 people…

this sucks…

Comment by mike 12.17.10 @ 10:19 am


It’s not my post. I just ran across via a web search and I didn’t say there was anything to it. I just said not everyone likes him and yes it sounds as if that person has an axe to grind.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.17.10 @ 10:20 am

Totally agree that the process they (Pederson and Nordegren) followed was flawed and did do some damage to the program. However, there are two mitigating factors.

1) It is a results oriented business. No matter what the process, as long the team wins early and often, no one will care.
2) No matter what the process, they were going to come away with the same result.

If you’re looking for someone to blame, look no further than Jamie Dixon. The success of the Pitt basketball program had to be a huge factor. We do it in our business, we find a profile or a formula that works, we try to replicate it. Cleary that’s what happened here.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 12.17.10 @ 10:22 am

Jerome Lane and mike: I think Peak only kept the guys who said they remained committed after Wanny “resigned” on his list. Most of the others are not lost, just not 100% committed to Pitt. I’m guessing Haywood will be focusing on them pretty quickly.

Comment by TampaT 12.17.10 @ 10:25 am

What if Pederson thinks he’s actually the best coach available for the Pitt job? What if he is the best coach available for the Pitt job? People who wrote about hiring Chris Pedersen and Mike Leach are smoking the same crack with different hookers. The best big time coaches want to go to big time programs for big time money. Just because we would throw lots of money out there wouldn’t make us one of those programs.

Chris Pederson would never come to Pitt for any amount of money. It would be a lateral career move for him at best. And not only would we not want anything to do with Mike Leach, he would charge an obscene amount of money to use the job as a one or two year stepping stone into one of the bigger jobs available. Not to mention he wouldn’t have the same success and ability to recruit the overflowing athletic talent pool of Texas.

And every coach thinking about the Pitt job will see video of Pitt games and notice 25,000 seats open against rival opponents. The fan support is not there and the recruiting well in Pennsylvania is not there anymore to attract those kind of coaches just on school name recognition. What we can do is try to find a great, hungry, and motivated young coach who is interested in building the program up. Excite the fan base, raise the program standards, and then reward the coach if he’s successful and make it worth his while to stay. Of the six or seven names that were realistically being mentioned, Haywood is by far my favorite pick. It’s just my opinion of course, he just seems like the best choice to me.

This might seem like a crass analogy, but we don’t need to be the good looking kid at the dance who sits in his chair all night because he only wants to dance with the hottest girl in school. Let’s dance with that cute girl from math class whose breast size just doubled over the summer. And also I heard from a buddy she is a really really dirty screw.

Hail to Pitt! Hail to dirty big breasted college algebra classmates!

Comment by Glen Frankenfield 12.17.10 @ 10:36 am

Well Wannys great recruiting classes lead us to an ass kicking by Miami and West Virginia (and no BE titles) in six years so I don’t put much stock into what happens with this class. Hopefully they can keep some of the better ones but I dont see this as critical. Wannys recruits didnt play until their third year anyway so we wouldnt have seen these guys until 2014 – at the earliest.

Plus, who knows, maybe Haywood can pick off a few other recruits from some of these other geographic areas he’s got ties to? It is nice to know that he has some in-roads to texas with TCU joining in 2012.

At this point I am more curious as to how he will round out his staff?

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.17.10 @ 10:37 am

Tony in H’burg – We have plenty of women at Pitt, what’s the problem?

Comment by Dan 72 12.17.10 @ 10:38 am

pantherhead: I’m not saying Haywood, if he’s successful, will remain at Pitt as Jamie has. But, I do think he’ll stay longer than Holgorsen will at WVU if he’s equally successful. It’s just a gut feeling after reading each guy’s comments about their respective situations.

Comment by TampaT 12.17.10 @ 11:01 am

I have no problem with a guy catting.

I was pulling for Mike Leach so I’m looking around to see where the crack and whores got to….

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.17.10 @ 12:27 pm

If you’re in Harrisburg you shouldn’t have to look too far. Hey-O! I kid.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to want a guy of Leech’s stature to take over your favorite college football program. But why not say that you want Bill Cowher or Tony Dungee or Joe Paterno, because those are people only slightly less likely to be offered and take the Pitt job. Pitt has an academic and more importantly with UPMC a corporate image to maintain and Leech is a nightmare candidate right now. He’s practically radioactive.

While it’s not a PR homerun or a move that’s going to sell a lot of tickets right now like Dave’s hiring did, it looks like it could be a really great long term hire. If he starts winning BE championships and winning 9 and 10 games a season he’s probably only going to leave Pitt for ND. If he gets hired by a school like LSU, Auburn, or Texas it’s because he had a couple of undefeated seasons at Pitt.

Or he’s putrid and he runs the team in to the ground. I don’t think anyone sees that happening though. But if he does, then we’ll bring back Dave, he’ll coach the team to 7 seven win seasons until he’s 82 and go down as the all- time winningest coach in Pitt history. Either way I’ll still be here. I’m a Pitt football fan. Great fans learn to take the good with the bad. I watched every home game for six years from 93-99. Anyone want to add up how many quality wins I got to see? But the good ones sure did feel sweet.

Comment by Glen Frankenfield 12.17.10 @ 1:05 pm

Agree, Glen. The reactions we’re seeing here are a lot of SOP – no not “same old Pitt” as some have said, but Same Old Pittsburghers – never satisfied, mostly negative and assured that doom and gloom is to come.

My old business partner used to say it was because we had to deal with grey skies that seemed to be within arms’ reach for 9 months of the year. That’s why he and I moved to Tampa! :-)

But, I still love Pittsburgh, the people and Pitt. That’s why I keep coming back as often as I can. Hopefully Haywood and his team give me reason to come back even more often.

Comment by TampaT 12.17.10 @ 2:12 pm

[…] the firing and hiring on the football side, Dixon’s hire has gotten a bit of a second look. It has paid off in a way I know I never […]

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