Pitt is expected to introduce Miami (Ohio) football coach Michael Haywood as Dave Wannstedt’s successor at a news conference Thursday.
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Haywood, 10-15 in two seasons at the Mid-American Conference school, held a series of meetings on campus Wednesday with Pitt officials, some of which were spotted by students.
Haywood’s the only known candidate for the job, although Pitt also may have had interest in new Miami coach Al Golden and new West Virginia offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen before they took other jobs.
Formerly the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, Haywood was 1-11 in his first season at Miami in 2009 before going 9-4 this season and beating Northern Illinois 26-21 in the MAC championship game.
Miami was 10-27 in the three seasons before Haywood’s arrival. The RedHawks play Middle Tennessee State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6 in Mobile, Ala., two days before Pitt plays Kentucky in the Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.
It’s not known whether Haywood or Wannstedt will coach in those bowls.
Wannstedt resigned under pressure as Pitt’s coach Dec. 7 after going 7-5 during a season in which they were picked to win the Big East and numerous top Panthers players had disappointing years.
Pitt officials declined comment, although plans were being made for a news conference Thursday.
Haywood, a former Notre Dame player, has coached at Army, Ohio, Ball State, LSU, Texas and Notre Dame, working under Charlie Weis, Nick Saban and Mack Brown, among others. Haywood was chosen as the American Football Coaches Association assistant of the year in 2005, but lost his play-calling duties with Notre Dame in 2008.
Before being hired by Miami, the 46-year-old Haywood was passed over for head coaching jobs at Houston, Minnesota and Washington.
Athletic director Steve Pederson’s apparent choice may not be an especially popular one at Pitt, where fans expected the school to spend significant money to further upgrade the program and to pursue a successful upper-tier Division I coach or a highly successful assistant, such as Holgorsen.
Pederson was fired at alma mater Nebraska in 2007 largely because of his unsuccessful hiring of Bill Callahan as the successor to football coach Frank Solich.
Haywood was 1-11 at Miami in the same season Wannstedt was 10-3 at Pitt and, while Miami had a significantly better record this season, the turnaround occurred in the MAC, not a BCS conference. Wannstedt was 41-32 in six seasons after being hired to upgrade a program that had gone to a BCS bowl under former coach Walt Harris, but never reached one under the former Bears and Dolphins coach.
Asked about Haywood, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — a former Miami player — said he knew nothing about him.
”He (Haywood) never reached out to me,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. ”I don’t really know him. I know what helped Miami of Ohio win this year, in my opinion, more than anything, is Brad Bates, the athletic director. What an awesome guy.”
Haywood would be the first black head coach in a major sport at Pitt.