Nick Kovacevic- Mike Haywood Reaction


When Mike Haywood was hired on December 16, 2010,  he was not a popular choice. A largely unproven head coach with a career record of 10-15 at Miami University in Ohio, fans called out the administration for taking the “cheap” way out. Fans were looking  for a high profile candidate such as Ex-Texas Tech coach Mike Leach or former Temple coach Al Golden.

 When athletic director Steve Pederson faced the media to explain his hire, he touted Haywood as a man of “character” and “integrity.”  Pitt fans slowly started to warm up to Haywood and accept him as the coach, arguing that the man should be judged on his success on the field.  For the next sixteen days, Mike Haywood would be the new coach of the Pitt football team.

  It would be safe to say that New Year’s Eve was a bad day for anyone that cares about Pitt football, although nobody could feel quite as bad as Athletic Director Steve Pederson.  Mike Haywood was arrested on allegations of domestic abuse in his South Bend, IN home. He was jailed without bail and detained overnight. Pitt reacted swiftly, firing Haywood the next day.

 Pitt had no choice but to fire their coach. While it was not determined if Haywood was innocent or guilty, the university could not have a man with such a tarnished image leading their most visible sport. Coaches and football programs represent academic institutions and their values, and an alleged woman abuser as the face of the program was unacceptable. In addition to leading a program, part of a coach’s job is to recruit young men to play for Pitt. It would be difficult to sell parents on going to Pitt given Haywood’s black mark.

 The blame on the debacle of Mike Haywood rests with the man who hired him, Steve Pederson.  Haywood’s interview process was not very thorough, as he was only interviewed once. Pitt’s incident with Haywood has caused a black mark for the football program. Many 2011 recruits (11 of 18) have decommited from Pitt and if Todd Graham isn’t the right guy, Pitt’s football program will suffer for years until it can recover from this hit.