Pitt hires Miami (Ohio) coach Haywood

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Pitt hired Miami (Ohio) coach Michael Haywood as its next head football coach Wednesday, and he is to be introduced at a press conference at 4 p.m. today by Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson.

Haywood, 46, replaces Dave Wannstedt, who was forced to resign last week after a disappointing 7-5 season, and becomes the school's first African-American football or men's basketball coach.

He led the Redhawks to a record of 9-4 this year, including a 26-21 win against Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game.

Miami will play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against Middle Tennessee State, but the game is not until Jan. 6 and Haywood will not coach in it. Instead, he will immediately start to assemble a staff and put the finishing touches on Pitt's recruiting class.

Currently, there are 13 players committed to the Panthers for next season, which means Haywood will have about seven more scholarships available to fill.

Haywood is expected to bring his assistant head coach, Bill Elias, with him to join the Pitt staff. Elias also was the recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach for the Redhawks.

Haywood was the coach at Miami for two seasons and compiled a record of 10-15 but he inherited a downtrodden program and went 1-11 his first year before making an incredible turnaround this season.

He was on the Pitt campus Tuesday night to complete the interview process, then Wednesday met a number of key people at the university as the two sides hashed out a deal.

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

Wannstedt's base salary was $1,010,873, but he also received some undisclosed bonuses and incentives. Haywood's deal is believed to be in the same range.

After leaving Pitt Wednesday, Haywood returned to Oxford, Ohio, to meet with his team and inform them of his decision to take the Panthers' job, and he is expected to return today and be formally introduced at a news conference.

Haywood, a native of Houston, Texas, played at Notre Dame from 1982-86 under both Gerry Faust and Lou Holtz. He began his career as a flanker but switched to cornerback after his first year and started 13 games from 1984-86.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1986 with a bachelor's degree from the College of Arts and Letters and took his first coaching job as a graduate assistant at Minnesota in 1988, then spent two years at Army, coaching defensive ends and special teams.

Haywood made other stops at Ohio (1991-92), Ball State (1993-94), Louisiana State (1995-2002) and Texas (2003-04). He coached a number of different positions, including running backs, receivers, linebackers and defensive ends and he also served a number of years as a special-teams coordinator as well as recruiting coordinator.

In 2005, he was hired by Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and served for four seasons as the Irish's offensive coordinator and running backs coach before he landed the job as Miami's head coach.

Haywood is known as a fiery guy and a disciplinarian, and his pregame speech from the Redhawks' 23-3 win against Temple in a key MAC-East game earlier this season has become a Youtube sensation because of the passion and energy with which he delivered it.

Haywood was one of several known candidates for the job, but he was one of only two who were seriously considered. The other was Temple coach Al Golden, who took the head-coaching job at the University of Miami Sunday.

Pitt also was believed to have had contact with San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, Tulsa coach Todd Graham and former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.

But Haywood was on Pederson's short list from the start and comes highly recommended by a number of coaches like Messrs. Weis, Holtz, Faust and Texas coach Mack Brown.

He has recruited the Midwest as well as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California, Canada, Oklahoma and Arkansas -- and he has been a member of the staffs of three Top 10 teams and six top 25 teams since 1995.

Haywood will have plenty of pressure to win immediately at Pitt as he inherits a team that is coming off three consecutive winning seasons, has earned three consecutive bowl bids and will have about 17 returning starters heading into spring practice.

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720


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