CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT : Mike Haywood

We know he's currently the head coach at Miami of Ohio, where he's commanding a salary in the ball park of $300,000. But, what else has put him in the lime light of the Pitt coaching search? Outside of this meeting with Nordenberg and Pederson, we are able to confirm at least one other mode of contact between Haywood and Pitt. Here's a closer look at what Haywood's background.

As Scout.com's Bob Lichtenfels reported late Tuesday night, Haywood is thought to be meeting with the Pitt administration--mainly Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Athletic Director Steve Pederson. Haywood is expected to be offered the head coaching job, and is expected to accept.

NOTRE DAME RECEIVER/CORNER
Haywood attended St. Thomas High School in Houston. He went on to play collegiately at Notre Dame, where he started off his career as a receiver. Later on in his freshman year, he moved over to the defensive side of the ball as a corner. As a true freshman, Haywood was on a Notre Dame team that came into Pitt Stadium in November of 1982, and took down a top-ranked and unbeaten Pitt team, 31-16.

He was recruited to the Irish by then head coach Gerry Faust. Faust resigned after Haywood's junior season, as he finished out his playing career, playing for Lou Holtz in his senior season. That in itself should lend him some credibility in relating to a lot of the current Pitt players who were loyal to Dave Wannstedt.

THE EARLY YEARS
Haywood got his start in coaching at Minnesota, a place where Holtz coached prior to coming to Notre Dame. Interestingly, while Haywood's two-year record at Miami is 9-14, Holtz put together a two-year record of 10-12 at Minnesota, before getting hired at Notre Dame in 1985.

Haywood got that first coaching job under John Gutekunst, who was Holtz' defensive coordinator at Minnesota. He spent the 1988 season as a graduate assistant, before spending two seasons each at Army (1989-90), Ohio (1991-92) and Ball State (1993-94).

FOUR NFL DRAFT PICKS AT LSU
His trio of two-year stints led him to LSU, where he would spend the next eight seasons (1995-2002) as the Bayou Bengals running backs coach. In those eight seasons, the Tigers finished in the top 15 three times, including a No. 7 ranked after the 2001 season. Haywood coached the running backs--another thing that should transform well if he comes to Pitt. He coached the running backs for all eight seasons, and added special teams to his duties twice. He took over as special teams coordinator in 1996 for the next three seasons. He went back to strictly a running backs coach for two seasons (when Nick Saban took over), then once again handled both areas for his final two seasons at LSU.

During that eight-year stretch in Baton Rouge, Haywood coached such running backs to the NFL as Kevin Faulk (2nd round, 1999, New England Patriots), Rondell Mealey (7th round, 2000, Green Bay), Domanick Davis (4th round, 2003, Houston Texans) and LaBrandon Toefield (4th round, 2003, Jacksonville Jaguars).

Haywood came to Baton Rouge during Gerry DiNardo's first year at LSU at 1995, and lasted all the way through DiNardo‘s tenure. When Nick Saban took over in 2000, Haywood was a holdover from the previous staff. DiNardo, like Haywood, played at Notre Dame, but DiNardo never coached at Notre Dame, nor did he work with Haywood anytime prior to that.

20 WINS IN TWO YEARS AT TEXAS
After his stop in Baton Rouge, Haywood spent two seasons at Texas from 2002-2003, where he also coached the running backs. During those two seasons, the Longhorns went a combined 20-4, and captured the program's first Big XII championship under Mack Brown in 2004. The pressure Brown faced up to that time--about not winning a conference title or a BCS bowl berth--was similar to that of the pressure Dave Wannstedt faced in his tenure. That 2004 Texas team advanced to the Rose Bowl, and came away with a thrilling 37-35 win over Michigan.

During his short time in Austin, Haywood tutored Cedric Benson, who finished his Texas career second only to Ricky Williams with 5,540 career rushing yards. That total ranks sixth all-time among NCAA running backs. Benson won the Doak Walker Award that year, and was also an All-America selection that year.

BACK TO NOTRE DAME
When Charlie Weis took over in South Bend in 2005, Haywood jumped at the opportunity to return to his alma mater. He took over as offensive coordinator and running backs coach, a position he would serve over the next four years. Ironically, just as he did in his first year as a player at Notre Dame, he took the national stage in the 2005 opener, leading an offense that produced 42 points in a 42-21 win on September 3, 2005.

For his efforts in his first year at Notre Dame, Haywood was named the 2005 Divison I-A Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. Charlie Weis had called the plays for his first three seasons at Notre Dame. After a 3-9 season, Weis turned the duties over to Haywood. He had his playcalling duties relinquished in 2008, after a late season struggle that included a home overtime loss to Pitt in November of 2008.

During the 2008 stretch where Haywood called Notre Dame's offensive plays, the offense was averaging over 100 more yards per game than it did in 2007. During his four years as offensive coordinator, Haywood's offense averaged 27 points a game.

Weeks later, Haywood got his first head coaching opportunity at Miami of Ohio.

THE MIAMI YEARS
Haywood was named head coach at Miami on December 23, 2008. He was taking over a program that went 2-10 the year before, then 1-11 in his first year of 2009. He turned the RedHawks into an 8-4 team this past season, which included a thrilling 26-21 win over No. 25 Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship. Northern Illinois entered the game with a 10-2 record, and was unbeaten in conference play. In that game, the RedHawks started their final drive on their own 30, driving 70 yards in 26 seconds, to pick up the win.

The 2010 RedHawks did not fare well in its three meetings with BCS opponents, but clearly the tougher schedule helped them down the stretch. They opened the season in Gainesville, Fla., suffering a 34-12 loss to then No. 3 Florida. They traveled to Missouri, where they suffered a 51-13 loss at the hands of the No. 24 Tigers. A rivalry game, they lost 45-3 to defending Big East champion Cincinnati.

After that loss, they reeled off four consecutive wins including a mild 23-3 upset of Temple in the regular-season finale, which got the RedHawks to the MAC Championship game. Miami also had to have a little help from Kent State, who knocked off Ohio in its regular-season finale 28-6.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP COACHES
If you include Holtz, whom he played under, Haywood has served under three coaches--Holtz, Saban, Brown--who have won four national championships since 1988. Saban and Brown have combined for three national titles in the last eight seasons.

ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE CRADLE OF COACHES
Miami of Ohio has always been referred to as the Cradle of Coaches, a nickname earned based on the number of successful pro and college coaches who have either played collegiately for the RedHawks, or coached there at one time.

Members of the Cradle include such legendary coaches as Weeb Ewbank, Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, but also have coached who in recent years have left a mark on the game, including Sean Payton who coached the New Orleans Saints to its first-ever Super Bowl win this past year.

Interestingly, Ara Parseghian, a member of the Cradle, coached Notre Dame to a national championship in 1973. Gerry DiNardo was a member of that team. DiNardo then hired Haywood at LSU, which is one example of how the Cradle is like a ‘Six Degrees of Separation' in the college coaching community.


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