PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pitt Panthers football team has a new coach.
The school introduced Michael Haywood as its next head coach during a press conference Thursday afternoon at their headquarters on the South Side.
But the reaction from the Pitt fan base since the news first broke has been mixed.
On 93-7 The Fan, talk show host Vinnie Richichi took a lot of calls today about the decision to hire Haywood, particularly after Dave Wannstedt’s departure just a week ago.
“I was extremely excited when Wannstedt got fired, until they just gave this guy the contract,” said one caller. “His offense at Miami finished what, 103?”
“It sounds like he’s paid his dues,” added another Pitt fan who called in to offer his opinion. “It sounds like he deserves a crack at a top job like this and I guess we ought to give him an opportunity.”
Over on Pitt’s campus in Oakland, students were still buying up the athletic merchandise even as the passionate debate about Haywood and Wannstedt continues.
“Even though he didn’t meet expectations, I think he did a great job coaching,” said Kevin Regan, a Pitt junior and Wannstedt fan. “I think he was really successful and I think we should have [given] him another chance, gave him a couple more years, see how he does, before making a decision like this.”
“I think it’s good that they made a change and he seems like he is a guy who has a lot of experience,” countered David Wolff, a Pitt senior who is happy about the coaching change. “He’s had assistant coaching jobs. He turned the program around in Miami of Ohio.”
Reaction has also been coming down from both the college and professional football world to Pitt’s big announcement. Check out the quotes below from a press release from Pitt:
Alabama Coach Nick Saban:
“Mike Haywood is one of the brightest young coaches in college football and he did an outstanding job for us at LSU. He certainly did a fantastic job at Miami in turning that program around. None of this news surprises me because of what he brings to the table in terms of his energy, his enthusiasm, his knowledge of the game, and his ability to recruit. I think he will do a great job at the University of Pittsburgh.”
Texas Coach Mack Brown:
“Mike is a tremendous football coach and a great hire for the University of Pittsburgh. He’s a bright, energetic and enthusiastic guy who helped us have very successful seasons in 2003 and 2004 and did a phenomenal job in turning things around at Miami. Mike is a great coach and person who has proven he really understands how to build a staff and a program. I’m really looking forward to following him at Pitt.”
Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Back and Former LSU Player Ryan Clark:
“The thing that I remember about him was his fire. He’s a guy who is always pumped up, always enthusiastic about football. I think that will be a great spirit that he will bring to Pitt. You look at what he did at Miami of Ohio. He’s a guy who can infuse a program with fire, a guy who can infuse a program with confidence. I think he does that with his intelligence, but also with his ability to communicate.
“I think he commanded respect because he gave it. He treated us like men, and we were young at that time. He allowed us to learn, he allowed us to work, but he also talked to us like men. He was straight up. You never had to wonder about how Coach Haywood felt about something you did. That’s something important at that age – when you’re 19 or 20 years old, you don’t want to be trying to figure out how somebody feels about you.”