- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Whether they like it or not, Mike Haywood and Dana Holgorsen will be linked together for as long as they're both at Pittsburgh and West Virginia, respectively.
Both men were officially hired at rival schools within a 24-hour period. Both are replacing head coaches who were well liked and won games, just not not at a high enough level. So both are expected to win big, right away.
Pitt had at least some interest in Holgorsen, though athletic director Steve Pederson insisted Thursday that he only considered college head coaches. Haywood disclosed that he interviewed for the head coaching job at West Virginia, even though technically there still isn't a vacancy at that position yet.
So which school fared better in this process?
It's an interesting comparison, since there are pluses and minuses to each hire. Haywood has a 10-15 career record and only two years as a head coach, but he has a long track record as an assistant at prestigious programs such as LSU, Texas and Notre Dame. He led the biggest one-season turnaround in the country this season at Miami of Ohio, taking the RedHawks from 1-11 to 9-4 and a MAC title.
Holgorsen was the hot name and has produced eye-popping statistics as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Houston and Texas Tech. He appears to be the offensive mastermind Mountaineers fans so desperately wanted. Yet he's never been a head coach, has no connection to the area and will spend a year in the potentially awkward succession plan under Bill Stewart.
Haywood fits Pitt's more button-down, conservative philosophy, while Holgorsen is more of a free spirit who should be popular in the party atmosphere of Morgantown.
I'd say West Virginia came out ahead in this process, only because the Mountaineers landed a potential superstar coach whom we know at the very least will put a ton of pressure on opposing defensive coordinators. Haywood should have a smoother transition and won't have to learn how to become a head coach, but Pitt played things safer than its Backyard Brawl rivals.
Truth is, none of us know how these coaching moves will pan out. But how would you grade the hirings by each school, and which side do you think did better?