It seems that Pitt under HC Mike Haywood will have no hold-overs from the Wannstedt regime. I’m not totally surprised by this. Personally I would have liked to see Greg Gattuso and David Walker have remained on staff. I think Gattuso is an excellent coach and would have been a very vital bridge to the hyper-sensitive, good-old-boys network of Western PA high school coaches. That strikes me as risky. Walker is simply one of the best running backs coaches out there. Period.
Losing Jeff Hafley to Rutgers hurts from a recruiting perspective, but it can only help the secondary. Heck, even Rutgers fans are a little unsure about the cost of bringing Hafley aboard with that risk. Of course, Rutgers HC Greg Schiano hasn’t actually said where Hafley will coach. I would recommend Rutgers make him the Defensive Coordinator. Yeah. That’s what they need. That would be the best place for him.
In the immediate term, I expect Pitt to lose a couple of the recruits to Rutgers with the Hafley hiring. The complete turnover of Pitt coaches will mean more losses from the recruiting class that initially expected by a coaching change. There are obviously guys I would hate to lose. Simply from need or potential — Kyshoen Jarrett (CB), Terrell Chestnut (S), Marquise Wright (DT), Quintin Alston (LB), and Artie Rowell (C) — would suck. After that, it’s a little more vague. How many more RBs and DEs does Pitt need at the moment? More DTs? WRs?
As much as everyone was excited that Pitt was apparently pulling in a top-20 to -25 recruiting class, it is important to remember that this was a weak year for talent. Especially in Pennsylvania and NJ. Add in the fact that this was not a particularly large class — 18 players before Wannstedt was fired — and I’m having a hard time getting too worked up about this. It’s not like Pitt’s class was loaded with linebackers, O-linemen and defensive backs, quarterbacks. You know, the areas that were revealed this year to be Pitt’s most glaring problems.
Am I rationalizing? Justifying? Maybe. But even as Dokish pointed out pre-Wannstedt termination.
The problem, however, is that most of the best prospects are at the same positions. Wannstedt has had little trouble recruiting running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, and defensive linemen. However, at quarterback, offensive line, linebacker, and defensive backs his track record has been very poor. The rankings of national recruiting websites don’t tell the whole story in that they have a mathematical formula to show how many top prospects you get. What they don’t tell you is how these players actually fit into your program.
I won’t pretend that not bringing back anyone from Wannstedt’s staff seems like the smart play to me. But, not because of this particular recruiting class.
Finally this. Among the dumber things I came across in the decision to hire Mike Haywood as Pitt’s head coach was a debate on ESPN between Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Jr in the context of WVU hiring Holgorsen versus Haywood to Pitt. It wasn’t the topic itself. Since the two were essentially hired at the same time, the Backyard Brawl, and the issue of whether Pitt showed any interest in hiring Holgorsen. It’s having ESPN’s supposed NFL “draft experts” debating college football coaching hires. Exactly what in their alleged area of expertise says they should be having this conversation on camera? Water cooler, sure. Featured video debate? Not so much.