Assistant Coaches On Deck

Hiring assistant coaches and recruiting will go hand in hand for new Pitt coach Michael Haywood. With the upcoming dead period coming up in recruiting, he may look to keep a few guys from the previous Pitt staff in place to solidify the current crop of 2011 verbal commitments.

One of the first things that the newly hired Haywood addressed, was filling out his coaching staff. There are only two things certain at this point. One, Lance Guidry was installed as interim head coach at Miami, which rules him out as coming to Pitt. Haywood announced that he's bringing Bill Elias with him from Miami. Elias will be Pitt's assistant head coach/SAM and WILL linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

The possibilities are endless. There is still a chance he can bring more assistants from Miami--an addition to Elias. There's just as good a chance he can start off with a large contingent of holdovers from Dave Wannstedt's staff too.

Haywood started off by saying that he would go through Pitt's current set of assistants and interview them, to decided if he would bring any of them along. Haywood himself was once in that situation as an assistant at LSU. After going to Baton Rouge to be a part of Gerry DiNardo's staff in 1995, Haywood was a holdover when Nick Saban took over the program in 1999.

"We're going to start off talking to several assistant coaches, and we're going to start off recruiting," Haywood said. "Recruiting is the blood line. As we look at the recruiting boards, there's a lot of young men with which we have some familiarity with."

To get rolling on that, Haywood has placed a sense of urgency on getting a staff in place. Among some of his choices include current Miami offensive coordinator Morris Watts, and its defensive coordinator Carl Reese. Reese has 40 years of college and pro coaching experience, while Watts has 41. For starters, under Watts on offense, the RedHawks offense ranked third in the MAC in passing yards a game with 250.3. Miami's defense, under Watts, was third in rushing yards per game (121.4) and third for the season in turnover margin, with a +8.

One of the biggest questions facing Haywood, is whether or not he will hold on to any of Pitt's assistants, specifically position coaches Brian Angelichio, Jeff Hafley and David Walker. All three have been as valuable to their position as they have in their respective recruiting areas over the last few years. Haywood answered the question two ways.

"We would like to retain one or two gentleman that are on the (current Pitt) staff," Haywood initially said. "We're going to give everybody an opportunity to interview."

That decision could come as soon as Friday, based on the timetable that Haywood is working on. A big factor on him getting a move on in putting a staff in place has a lot to do with the upcoming dead period in recruiting, where there is no contact between coaches and recruits. That period will last from December 20 to January 3. The only exception is mid-year enrollees.

With December 20 being Monday, Haywood may have a few assistants--including some key ones for recruiting purposes--picked out in the very near future.

"At least eight positions will be filled by the beginning of next week," Haywood said. "Our first goal is to reconnect with the recruits."


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