The best chance for Michael Haywood to make a splash--if he wanted to--is at the defensive coordinator position. There are some big names on that list, but based on contracts, he might just bring on his defensive coordinator from Miami. One thing that was consistent in his first staff at Miami, was bringing in people he had worked with in the past. Here's a list of some potential candidates with some ties to Haywood.
Most notably under Watts--who brings in 41 years of coaching experience at the pro and college levels combined--Miami's offense ranked third in the MAC in passing yards a game with 250.3. In the MAC Championship game, the RedHawks were able to drive 70 yards in the final seconds to win the game. That should say something about Watts' abilities as a playcaller, especially under pressure. Had he not made the calls in such a way, Haywood might not have even been a candidate at Pitt, and Miami might not even be in a bowl game. Watts coached with Haywood at LSU from 1995-98.
The safe bet is on Carl Reese. The only problem is--much like Pitt's bowl preparations--is if Haywood will completely raid the rest of the Miami coaching staff to fill out his staff here at Pitt. Our sources don't indicate that Haywood will bring over all the remaining Miami assistants, but we have heard that at least a few are in the mix. Haywood showed his loyalty to Reese by bringing him to Miami, after having been out of coaching for five seasons prior to joining Haywood's first coaching staff in 2009. Reese coached with Haywood at LSU from 1995-97, and again at Texas in 2003. Under Reese, Miami's defense was third in the MAC in rushing yards per game (121.4) and third for the season in turnover margin, with a +8.
Talk about opening some serious recruiting avenues, Pitt could do that by adding Sal Sunseri as a defensive coordinator. We have no confirmation on either side, that Sunseri is either interested, or if he's even in line for consideration. After coming to Alabama from the NFL's Carolina Panthers, Sunseri has become an ace recruiter for the Crimson Tide, as he's helped them win a national championship in just two seasons in Tuscaloosa. Aside from proving anything concrete that either Pitt or Sunseri is interested in making this happen, Haywood said last week that Bill Elias would receive the title of assistant head coach. Sunseri already has that title at Alabama, making it unlikely that he would come here to not have that same title. Interestingly, Sunseri and Haywood have both coached under Nick Saban, and from the early comments from both Saban and Haywood, it sounds as if there's a strong friendship in place between Saban and Haywood. Because of that tie, Sunseri is probably more of a candidate than the next person on the short list.
Austin's name is still out there for now, and that's really the only reason why his name is on this list. The Texas Board of Regents recently held a meeting, to approve whoever Mack Brown is going to announce as his new assistant coaches--not only defensive coordinator, but Brown is also hiring a new offensive coordinator, and a new offensive and defensive line coach. The news could come as soon as today that Austin will go to…Austin. For now, he's still technically available, which means anything can happen. We have not gotten a confirmation on either side that Austin is in or out for the Texas defensive coordinator job.
A longshot-outside chance at best. Brown deserves mention here because he was Notre Dame's associate head coach during Charlie Weis' final season of 2009. Brown and Haywood coached together for three seasons in South Bend. Currently, Brown is the defensive backs coach for the New England Patriots. Two questions; one, does Brown have a desire to come back to the college game? The other, is would Pitt offer him the financial stability in a defensive coordinator, that would be much better than what he gets in New England? Unless he's passionate about college football, Brown looks to be working his way up through the NFL ranks.
Wood has an impressive list of college and professional teams on his resume, but served as the offensive coordinator for Massillon Washington in 2008, where he would have coached Justin Olack as a sophomore. 2010 was Wood's first year with Miami. Under Wood's tutelage this past season, Miami receiver Armand Robinson tied a school-record with 14 receptions in the MAC Championship win over Northern Illinois.
RUNNING BACKS COACH
Ware spent two seasons as a coaching intern under Haywood, helping out with some of Notre Dame's camps. Ware was also at Georgetown and Dartmouth, prior to working under Haywood at Notre Dame. Ware has been Haywood's running backs coach at Miami for both seasons.
Latina is another Notre Dame tie, as both he and Haywood were a part of the same offensive staff for the exact same years at Notre Dame; 2005-08. Latina has also coached offensive lines at Ole Miss, Clemson, Kansas State and Temple. Latina was Pitt's tight ends coach in 1982.
DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH
Guidry is Miami's interim head coach. The bowl game looks like a good audition for him to prove that he could handle being a head coach, and that he is ready for this opportunity. He only comes to Pitt if he is either not considered a candidate for the head coaching job, or he would rather just coach defensive backs instead of being a head coach.
Smith has been the head coach at Gateway for the last nine seasons, and was in the mix for an open assistant position at Pitt as recently as 2007. We put him as a defensive backs candidate, because Wood--from what we've been told--is at the top of the list to be Pitt's receivers coach. Smith has sent a number of players on to Division I. Is this his time to make the jump from high school to college, and is it something that he wants?
Powlus and Latina were both on the same Akron staff this past season. Prior to that, Powlus was an assistant at Notre Dame from 2005-09, before going to Akron, when another former Notre Dame assistant--Rob Ianello--took over as head coach at Akron. As a Pennsylvania native, Powlus could keep open some good ties already established in the eastern and central part of the state.