Football: Pitt announces Haywood as new head coach

By Alex Oltmanns

Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson officially introduced Michael Haywood as the new head… Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson officially introduced Michael Haywood as the new head coach of the Panther football team Thursday at the team’s practice facility in the South Side.

Haywood, who coached most recently at Miami University of Ohio, has also completed former coaching stints with Notre Dame, Texas and LSU.

“I’d like to thank Steve (Pederson) and the chancellor for the opportunity to become the head football coach here,” he said in Thursday’s press conference.

In 2009, his first year as head coach at Miami, the Red Hawks went 1-11 but turned around this year by going 9-4 and winning the Mid-American Conference title.

With former head coach Dave Wannstedt resigning just last Tuesday, Pederson wanted to move quickly to hire a new head coach, saying that Haywood was the only coach to whom Pitt extended an offer.

“We focused our attention only on college head football coaches,” Pederson said in the press conference. “I began to travel for a series of extensive meetings with five head coaches over a five-day period.

“In total, Coach Haywood and I spent about 20 hours together talking about the future of the program and what everyone entailed.”

Haywood turned the program around with discipline, conducting early morning practices and demanding that his players wear a jacket and tie to each game.

“It’s part of my culture…I think it’s really important that gentleman dress like they play,” he said. “It (the early mornings) eliminated the problems in which we had with student athletes uptown. Football was so important to them that they weren’t going to go out the night before they had to practice.”

Haywood said he will conduct interviews with all current assistant coaches and will determine the makeup of his prospective staff from there.

“We’re going to interview everyone on staff and we would like to retain one or two gentleman that are on the staff,” he said.

“It is a crucial time in recruiting, as recruiting is the bloodline to any institution. It is important for us that we start off recruiting today,” Haywood said.

He added that he will honor all the commitments already made to the school by current recruits.

When asked what a Michael Haywood football team would play like, Haywood had a simple response. “When you fall down and get knocked down on the canvas, it’s how fast do you get back up,” he said. “You have to be a physically dominant football team for 60 minutes.”