The coaching carousel in the Mid-American Conference continued Wednesday as Mike Haywood, who took Miami from a 1-11 season in his first year to an 8-4 record and MAC Championship this season, has accepted the head coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh.
The job at Pitt opened up when Dave Wannstedt resigned after six seasons with the Panthers.
There are currently four head coaching openings in the MAC – Kent State, Ball State, Temple and Miami. Doug Martin resigned at Kent and the school is expected to name his replacement soon. Alabama receivers coach Curt Cignetti is rumored to be the frontrunner to replace Martin. Ball State opened up when Stan Parrish was dismissed after two seasons and a 4-18 record with the Cardinals. Ball State is in the interviewing process at this point, and former Cardinals quarterback Mike Neu is reported to be close to receiving an offer from Ball State.
The job at Temple opened when Al Golden resigned to accept the head coaching position with the Miami Hurricanes. Golden’s announcement came last week and at a press conference yesterday Owls athletic director Bill Bradshaw announced a national search for Golden’s replacement would begin immediately.
“Temple is firmly committed to finding the best possible person to continue the success it has experienced over the past two seasons and lead it to even greater heights,” Bradshaw said. “The program has never been in better shape, posting consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1978-79, with the 17 wins during that time tying the school record. Our goal is to find the right person to continue this success on the gridiron while also maintaining excellence in the classroom. “With 14 starters, including five all-conference performers, this is a great opportunity for the right coach to keep the program on the winning track.”
Jerry Kill from Northern Illinois was already plucked from the MAC ranks earlier this month, moving to the Big Ten with the University of Minnesota. His replacement has already been named, former Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren. An interesting exit interview by John Sahly at the DeKalb Daily-Chronicle can be found here: www.daily-chronicle.com/2010/12/15/kill-i-did-the-best-i-could/a1unj5o/.
The coaching turmoil in the MAC this off-season is good news/bad news. The bad news is that heavy coaching turmoil anywhere, in any program or conference, makes it difficult to create any kind of continuity. It can look bad for perspective recruits as well because it makes the conference look like some kind of proving ground for ambitions coaches looking for bigger and better things.
The good, however, significantly offsets the bad in this writer’s opinion. These coaches that move on to bigger schools in major conferences will forever be linked to their MAC schools. When people would talk about the late Randy Walker during game telecasts they would frequently mention how he cut his teeth at Miami University…the “Cradle of Coaches.” It was mentioned quite a bit that Urban Meyer began his head coaching career at Bowling Green and Nick Saban at Toledo. This is very good publicity for the conference and when a MAC school is looking for a head coach there isn’t ever a lack of quality applicants. This is how Miami got Haywood in the first place. It’s how Kill ended up at Northern Illinois. Heck, Frank Solich went from the Big 12 to the MAC and is doing very well with the program at Ohio University.
A prospective head coach knows he can take the job at Ball State or Kent and, if he does a solid job and builds a successful program, the North Carolina States, Marylands, Minnesotas and Miami Floridas of the world will take notice, and you will end up on a lot of short lists.
I do feel a little bad for the players…especially the RedHawks Haywood is leaving behind. They completely bought into what he was selling when he came to Oxford. He talked about changing the culture that surrounded the football program, and they all ended up with a MAC Championship because of their faith in him and relationships with the coaching staff, administration and each other. Now Haywood, who orchestrated this renaissance, is leaving them behind. The team was loaded with sophomores and juniors last season and they are going to end their careers playing in a new system with another coach. You have to feel a little sympathy for that.
I have a feeling Haywood’s departure for bigger, greener pastures will not be the last MAC coach to do so this offseason. There are a couple of coaches I expected to be checking out their options, and they are both still with their current teams. Only time will tell, but I guess the MAC has seen enough coaching chaos to last quite awhile.
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