NCF Nation: Mike Haywood

3-point stance: Breaking down Baylor

October, 7, 2013
1. Baylor’s offensive numbers challenge history and strain credulity. The 4-0 Bears are averaging 779.5 yards per game. They are the first team to score 70 points in three consecutive games since 1930 (and scored 69 in their opener). But those pale in comparison to the most impressive statistic to me. Through 61 possessions, Baylor has yet to snap three downs and punt. They did turn the ball over once before making a first down, and they’ve had a couple of end-of-half knee-downs. But no three-and-out punts. That is mind-boggling.

2. Miami (Ohio) and Mike Haywood must think of 2010 as a fever dream. The RedHawks went from 1-11 in 2009 to 10-4 and the MAC championship in 2010. Haywood, Miami’s head coach, got hired as head coach at Pittsburgh. Within the month, Haywood got fired after a domestic violence arrest. The charges were dismissed but he hasn’t coached again. Miami hired Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell to replace Haywood. Treadwell had a record of 8-21, including an 0-5 mark this season, when Miami fired him Sunday.

3. Oregon has released no details about why tight end Colt Lyerla left the program except that he did so for personal reasons. But this much we know: Lyerla came into the season ranked as the 20th-best player in the Pac-12. He publicly complained about head coach Mark Helfrich. He apologized. And Lyerla, a junior with NFL potential, has made as many catches in 2013 as he has missed games -- two. Lyerla surrendered the chance to play with quarterback Marcus Mariota. No. 2 Oregon, at 5-0, has played well without him.

Temple making its mark in Pennsylvania

September, 4, 2012
Steve Addazio took the Temple head-coaching job just before the calendar turned to 2011, hoping the Owls could eventually land where they sit 21 months later, in the Big East. With that goal came making a name for itself within Pennsylvania, something the school validated to some degree in Friday's opener, its third straight win over crosstown rival Villanova.

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Eric Hartline/US PresswireTemple coach Steve Addazio has his sights set on making a mark in the Big East and in Pennsylvania.
The 41-10 rout in the final Mayor's Cup contest gave Temple its fifth straight win dating back to last season — which, surprisingly enough, makes the Owls the active owner of the Big East's longest winning streak. Perhaps more importantly, however, was what transpired the next afternoon and evening, three and six hours West of the Philadelphia campus, respectively.

The Bill O'Brien era at Penn State, already hamstrung by severe NCAA sanctions, began with a 10-point home loss to Mid-American Conference contender Ohio. Roughly six hours later, coach Paul Chryst's debut at Pitt was met with a two-touchdown home loss to Youngstown State, an FCS school.

The losses by the old guard of Pennsylvania football marked the first time in 45 years that the Nittany Lions and the Panthers dropped their openers in the same weekend that the Owls won theirs, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Joe Paterno was in just his second season as Penn State's head coach on Sept. 23, 1967, losing to Navy in the opener. Pitt fell to UCLA that same day, with Temple taking care of business against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

So yes, things have taken quite the quick turn in the Keystone State.

Since Addazio was hired at Temple in December 2010, Penn State has had three different game head coaches. Pitt has had four, not including the two-week, post-2010 regular-season reign of Mike Haywood.

"Well obviously I really took this job with the intent that we'd be where we are right now — hoping that we could get into the Big East, hoping that we could continue great success with our new facilities which are now complete," Addazio said. "Obviously with all of that, [we] have a great opportunity to make our mark within the state of Pennsylvania, and that's a great thing."

"I think this is certainly a state that embraces football, college football," Addazio added. "We're a great opportunity here for someone who wants to play BCS-level football in the fourth-largest media market in the country."

Interconference matchups with Maryland and Penn State await Temple in its next two games before it begins Addazio's first Big East slate. The Nittany Lions? They travel to Virginia and host Navy before the Owls come to town, while the Panthers have a quick turnaround Thursday at Cincinnati in the Bearcats' opener before hosting ACC power Virginia Tech.

So yes, it is easy to look to the near future and let the mind wander a bit: Could a changing of the guard be on the horizon in Pennsylvania?

Don't look to Addazio, who has that Sept. 22 date at Beaver Stadium in the back of his mind.

A win, after all, would be even bigger history than this past weekend's, as Temple has not beaten Penn State in 71 years.

"I follow Penn State, obviously we play them in a couple weeks," Addazio said. "I don't know what happened at the end but we play them a little later in the season, so certainly right now, my focus is on Maryland. But we have a bye week, and then we play Penn State. So Penn State's right there on the periphery and that's been such a big game in Temple's recent history here, so it's something that has our attention."

Heartbreakers in the Big East

February, 14, 2011
Valentine's Day can be great. Unless you've had your heart broken recently.

The Big East knows all about heartache. Here are the five biggest heartbreakers for the league:

Landry Jones: The Oklahoma quarterback helped the Sooners get by Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium last September and then led his team to a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl romp over Connecticut in January. Jones threw for 799 yards and five touchdowns in the two wins.

Russell Wilson: The NC State quarterback engineered a win over Cincinnati early in the year before beating West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. Wilson threw for 675 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions while running for another 74 yards in the two victories. The Big East is anxious to see Wilson concentrate on baseball.

Randy Edsall, Brian Kelly, Bobby Petrino and Rich Rodriguez: These four coaches have combined to claim the last six BCS bids in the Big East. Each one left his school for a supposedly better gig. Edsall became the latest, ditching his team right after the Fiesta Bowl for Maryland and not even bothering to tell the players in person first.

Mike Haywood: He was Pittsburgh coach for all of about two weeks before his brush with the law in South Bend made the Panthers and athletic director Steve Pederson a national punching bag. The Pitt players, though, weren't too heartbroken to see Haywood leave after he lectured them about discipline in their lone meeting.

Dave Teggart: Teggart is a hero in Connecticut, but he broke other Big East teams' hearts along the way. He kicked the game-winning field goals against West Virginia and South Florida and contributed heavily to the two-point win over Pittsburgh.

Tom Savage: Rutgers fans thought last year was the start of a beautiful relationship with Savage. Instead, the sophomore quarterback got hurt, benched and then decided to transfer, which briefly led to a dispute with Greg Schiano over his destination. The Scarlet Knights will now bat their eyes at Chas Dodd and hope for a different fate.

Pitt gets its man this time (maybe)

January, 11, 2011
If Todd Graham simply makes it to signing day as Pittsburgh's head coach, he will already have proved more successful than his immediate predecessor.

How much more success Graham will have with the Panthers remains to be seen, of course. But it looks like the school made the best of a messy situation with a solid hire this time around.

[+] EnlargeTodd Graham
AP Photo/Michael ConroyPanthers coach Todd Graham will bring the spread offense to Pitt.
I thought that Pitt should be bold and go after Rich Rodriguez or Gus Malzahn. Instead, it landed a coach who once worked under Rodriguez at West Virginia and who once was Malzahn's boss at Tulsa. Graham has a terrific record, going 43-23 in five seasons at Tulsa and Rice, winning at least 10 games in three of the past four years with the Golden Hurricane. He has also been a part of some major turnarounds, leading Rice to its first bowl game in 45 years in his lone season as head coach at that school, and working on the staff that brought Tulsa back from the dead.

Pittsburgh doesn't need to be resurrected. The Panthers just need a steady hand who can realize the potential for a program that has long underachieved. The foundation is in place, as former coach Dave Wannstedt left things in good shape before being forced out. Graham will have to hastily patch together a recruiting class that has gone up in smoke since Wannstedt's departure and the hiring and firing of Mike Haywood. It won't be easy, and the team could feel the impact of those losses in years to come.

But one recruiting class is less important than having the right man in charge. Graham makes for a considerably better choice than Haywood, who led his own impressive turnaround this season at Miami (Ohio) but had nothing else on his résumé as a head coach. Why didn't Pitt hire Graham in the first go-around, when he was one of the men considered? Mostly because of money, since Graham made $1.3 million at Tulsa and wanted a raise to leave. The notoriously budget-conscious Panthers didn't want to open their wallet the first time but were far more willing to do so now after the public relations nightmare of the Haywood arrest. Graham will reportedly be paid in the $2 million range.

Now he must prove he is worth it. The last Tulsa coach to take over a Big East program was Graham's former boss, Steve Kragthorpe. He flamed out in spectacular fashion at Louisville. Rebuilding a team at the Conference USA level and guiding one to a BCS game in an AQ conference, even one as wide open as the Big East, are not the same thing.

Whatever happens, Pitt fans shouldn't be bored, as they might have been with Haywood's style. Graham's teams score points in bunches; the Golden Hurricane led the nation in scoring in 2007 and 2008 when Malzahn was their offensive coordinator and averaged better than 41 points this year, breaking the 50-point barrier four times. That has to sound great to Panthers fans who were sick of Wannstedt's conservative offenses.

It's interesting, though, that Graham's background is on defense, as he was Rodriguez's defensive coordinator in Morgantown. Yet Tulsa has often been terrible on defense and allowed more than 30 points per game this season. Graham won't have Malzahn or Chad Morris -- who left Tulsa this week for Clemson -- to call plays at Heinz Field.

Regardless, Pitt is about to fully embrace the spread, even if all the current players were recruited for a pro-style system. Get ready for some big-time Backyard Brawl shootouts between Graham and new West Virginia offensive coordinator/future head coach Dana Holgorsen. The offensive doldrums that plagued both schools this year -- and the Big East in general -- are about to end.

Had the Panthers simply hired Graham instead of Haywood in December, they could have saved themselves a lot of grief. He looks like a solid choice going forward. He'd better be, since athletic director Steve Pederson's job and the future of the program are riding on it.

Graham will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. I'll have more thoughts after that media briefing.
Tulsa coach Todd Graham emerged as the leading candidate to take over at Pittsburgh over the weekend, and now it appears the two sides are close to hammering out a deal.

ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that Pittsburgh is attempting to meet financial considerations for Graham and his staff. A Tulsa team meeting has been called for this afternoon.

The Panthers were put a in serious bind after Mike Haywood was arrested on domestic violence charges, just a few weeks after the school hired him. Pittsburgh fired Haywood and reopened its search. Graham had spoken to Pittsburgh during the first coaching search, and has now emerged from a group that also included Penn State assistant Tom Bradley and Virginia Tech assistant Bud Foster.

I just posted a video talking about Tulsa's future without offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who has left for Clemson, and the possibility of losing Graham. It would definitely be a tough blow for Tulsa, which just finished a 10-3 season and returns 16 starters for 2011. Graham has posted a 43-23 record in four seasons at Tulsa, and won 10 or more games in three of those four seasons, including two C-USA West Division titles.

Whoever steps in as the new coach has plenty of talent returning on offense -- C-USA Offensive Player of the Year G.J. Kinne, NCAA career all-purpose yards record holder Damaris Johnson and the entire starting offensive line. The defense has plenty of young talent as well, including Freshman All-America safety Marco Nelson.

But given how late it is in the game, Tulsa should no doubt act quickly when finding its new head coach. One possibility could be former head coach Steve Kragthorpe, whom Graham replaced at Tulsa in 2007. Kragthorpe left to coach at Louisville and was fired after the 2009 season. He left his job as a Texas A&M receivers coach this past summer to deal with an unspecified family medical issue.
Three Big Ten assistants already have landed head-coaching jobs this season, and the carousel isn't done spinning just yet.

Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst both are being mentioned for the vacancy at Pittsburgh, which fired Mike Haywood on Saturday. Former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez isn't in the mix at Pitt, colleague Joe Schad reports.

Bradley is drawing a lot more interest now than in Pitt's previous coaching search last month, when he didn't even get an interview. The longtime Penn State assistant has a ton of connections to Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. He also would bring character and integrity to the job, which Pitt needs after the Haywood humiliation. Pitt's chancellor is much more involved in this search, and he reportedly has interest in Bradley.

Chryst had a tremendous season with Wisconsin's record-setting offense and certainly boasts the credentials to become a head coach. Texas wants him to run its offense, and Wisconsin will try to keep its alum in Madison. Those aren't his only two options, though.

Pitt would be a good spot for Chryst, whose power-oriented offense offense would go over well in the Steel City.

Both assistants would be significant losses for their respective programs, but you couldn't blame either guy for moving on to a top job. Bowl 3 keys

January, 5, 2011
You saw the preview and prediction. Now here are three keys each for Middle Tennessee and Miami (Ohio) headed into the Bowl on Thursday night in Mobile, Ala.

Middle Tennessee (6-6)

1. Get Dwight Dasher going. That has been easier said than done this season. Dasher has had an inconsistent season after being suspended the first four games for violating NCAA rules. He did play well in the finale against FIU, so the Blue Raiders are hoping he can pick up where he left off. But he did show signs of rust when he returned after his four weeks off, so it will be interesting to see whether the same rust returns with such a long layoff between games. One of the big keys will be to break contain and make plays with his legs, something that he has not done as much this season as he did in 2010.

2. Contain Miami running back Thomas Merriweather. The RedHawks have relied more on their run game with Zac Dysert out, and Merriweather has responded with three of his best games of the season. Still, with a redshirt freshman quarterback in Austin Boucher starting once again for Miami, you can bet the Blue Raiders will want to shut down Merriweather and make Boucher beat them with his arm. To be successful, not only will Miami have to put pressure on Boucher with Jamari Lattimore, they will have to account for Miami receivers Nick Harwell and Armand Robinson, one of the finest duos in the MAC. The two combined for 1,766 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

3. Limit the mistakes. Middle Tennessee has been a turnover machine this season, ranking last in the FBS in turnover margin. The Blue Raiders have given the ball away 33 times and taken it away only 17, a large reason why they had a .500 season this year. Miami, meanwhile, is at plus-8 on the season in turnover margin, so it is even more imperative in this game for the Blue Raiders to hold onto the ball.

Miami (Ohio) (9-4)

1. Make life easy for Boucher. There is no question that Boucher has filled in well as the starter since Dysert went down with a rib injury in November. Boucher has started three games and won all three, thanks in part to an increased reliance on the run game and Merriweather -- who has posted two 100-yard games with Boucher as the starter. It will be important to get Merriweather going early, to help open up passing lanes for Boucher and keep the Middle Tennessee defense honest. Balance is a must for Miami to be successful in this game.

2. Block defensive end Jamari Lattimore. That is no easy task. Lattimore was named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. He also ranks third on the team in tackles with 64. Lattimore has good speed, and should be able to take advantage of that against an offensive line that has given up 34 sacks this season, one of the worst in the country. Left tackle Matt Kennedy is on the hot seat.

3. Intangibles. There are a couple of questions for Miami headed into the game that have nothing to do with what will happen on the field. First, how will the team do with interim coach Lance Guidry on the sideline guiding the team? Mike Haywood is the coach who led this squad to the biggest turnaround in the NCAA this season, going from 1-11 to 9-4. But he resigned to coach at Pittsburgh and has since been fired following being arrested on a domestic violence charge. Northern Illinois responded with an interim coach at the helm in its win over Fresno State, so the same could happen here. Also, none of these players have been in a bowl game before, so it will be important for them to keep their poise early on this game.

Time for Pitt to think bold

January, 3, 2011
My research team did some exhaustive analysis to come up with the following statistic: Pittsburgh leads the nation in fired football coaches since December.

Yes, despite the decidedly unfunny domestic violence charge against now-dismissed coach Mike Haywood, jokes are easy to make at the Panthers expense. They are a national laughingstock after forcing out Dave Wannstedt and then hiring a supposed disciplinarian who lasted all of 16 days before winding up in jail.

Steve Pederson
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicSteve Pederson and Pitt needs to go after a big-name coach to stop the program's downward spiral.
Nobody looks worse than athletic director Steve Pederson, who now has made two straight disastrous football coaching hires. Pederson lost his job at Nebraska for his decision to replace Frank Solich with Bill Callahan.

The Haywood hiring makes you wonder how much due diligence Pederson did in his search process. Colleague Pat Forde reports that at least one BCS-level school looked into hiring Haywood but was turned off by some red flags in his personal life. While those concerns didn't suggest that Haywood would be charged in a domestic violence incident -- and here is where I emphasize that Haywood has only been charged, not convicted -- the bottom line is this: Pederson prioritized character, integrity and discipline with this hire, and he chose a guy who couldn't make it to New Year's Day without getting arrested. And remember that Pitt paid a search firm to aid in this process, so those kinds of details should have been vetted long before the New Year's Eve bombshell dropped.

Pederson had to sell Haywood to his fan base with the discipline and integrity buzz words, because there was very little on Haywood's actual coaching résumé to get anybody too excited. He did a great job in turning Miami around and leading the RedHawks to a MAC championship his second season. But Haywood had a losing record and had struggled to get a head coaching job after a long career as an assistant. Pitt didn't go for a home-run hire; at best Pederson legged out an infield single. Upon further review, it was a game-changing error.

Sorry for straining the baseball metaphor here, but now is the time for Pittsburgh to swing for the fences. It would be easy to panic, try to hire a safe, conservative choice and salvage what remains of a tattered recruiting class. Recent precedent in these types of situations is not promising. Notre Dame hired Ty Willingham after backing away from George O'Leary and his enhanced résumé flap in 2001. Alabama turned to Mike Shula after Mike Price's infamous strip-club fiasco in 2003. Willingham was fired after three seasons, Shula got canned in four.

Pitt needs to go the opposite route from its original search process, when Temple's Al Golden and Haywood were at the top of the list. Go after a hot name like Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Check in with Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. Roll the dice with old rival Rich Rodriguez if he doesn't keep his job at Michigan. Do something to change the conversation and get the fan base back on board. Bite the bullet on this year's recruiting class, although a bigger name might even help lure in some prospects at the last minute.

To do this, the notoriously budget-conscious Panthers need to open the wallet. Haywood was set to make about $1 million annually. Pitt may need to double that to attract a top-notch candidate. The extra money will be worth it for the public-relations fix. Call it a stupid tax. Alabama turned out OK when it spent some money on a good coach, didn't it?

If there's any good news for Pitt, it's that the Haywood baby mama drama came sooner rather than later. If the school makes a good hire now, the Haywood disaster will be a footnote, not the moment the program went into a downward spiral. The Panthers -- and Pederson, if he still has enough credibility remaining to be allowed to make this call -- get a do-over.

Now's the time to be bold and aggressive, to turn a crisis into an opportunity. Either that, or remain a laughingstock.
The Mike Haywood era at Pittsburgh lasted all of two weeks.


Haywood, who was hired on Dec. 16 from Miami (Ohio) after producing one of the best turnarounds in recent college football history, was fired on Saturday, only hours after he was released from a jail in South Bend, Ind., Haywood was arrested Friday on a domestic violence charge, which has been upgraded to a felony.

While the episode is an embarrassment for the Panthers, who will have to go back to scratch in their search for Dave Wannstedt's successor, they didn't have a choice.

In a statement released by the school, chancellor Mark Nordenberg said, "head coaches are among the University's most visible representatives and are expected to maintain high standards of personal conduct and to avoid situations that might reflect negatively on the University."

Haywood, a former player and assistant coach at Notre Dame, was arrested after an altercation with a woman who is the mother of his child. Pittsburgh can't have its new head coach sitting in a jail cell while other teams are playing bowl games on New Year's Day.

By keeping Haywood, Pittsburgh also would have sent the wrong message to its players. On Sept. 23, Pittsburgh dismissed freshman defensive back Jeff Knox from the team after he was arrested for assaulting a woman who had told him she was pregnant.

Haywood's firing is unfortunate. One of the brightest young coaches in the sport, he earned his way to a job at a BCS school by leading the RedHawks to a 9-4 record and a Mid-American Conference championship this season. A former assistant coach under Nick Saban at LSU, Haywood might have been capable of turning Pittsburgh into a consistent winner.

Now we might never know what kind of head coach he could be.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Haywood jailed

December, 31, 2010
In case you haven't seen the story yet, new Pittsburgh coach Mike Haywood was arrested Friday afternoon in South Bend on a domestic violence charge.

Let's exercise some caution here until more details emerge. Domestic issues can often be very complicated. So far, Pitt officials haven't made any announcements or responses.

But there's no denying this is a horrible piece of news for the Panthers and a very difficult way for Haywood to start his tenure at the school. Athletic director Steve Pederson talked a lot about discipline and character as priorities upon hiring Haywood, and this is at the very least making him squirm mightily.

With Pitt still not sure who will coach the Jan. 8 BBVA Compass Bowl while waiting for Dave Wannstedt's decision, the football program is appearing to be in chaos right now. And as Pitt approaches the final stretch drive in recruiting for 2011 -- after several commitments have already rescinded their pledges -- this latest news can only do harm.

[UPDATE] Pitt sent out the following statement tonight:
“The University of Pittsburgh is aware of an alleged incident involving head football coach Michael Haywood today in South Bend, Indiana. The University expects the highest standards of conduct from its employees, including its coaches, and any breach of those standards is a very serious matter. The University will decline further comment until more complete information is available.”

Top five non-AQ stories of 2010

December, 31, 2010
Happy New Year to one and all! Now that we are on the final day of 2010, let us take a look at the top five non-AQ stories of the season:

1. Conference realignment. 2010 started with a triumvirate of three non-AQ teams leading the charge for national recognition: Boise State, TCU and Utah. But as 2010 closes, only Boise State will be left as a non-AQ team in the coming years. While the Broncos are moving on to the Mountain West, Utah is headed to the Pac-12 for 2011 and TCU will move to the Big East in 2012. You can best sum up the recent events with a tried and true motto: If you can’t beat them, absorb them!

Utah, Boise State and TCU have each gotten to two BCS games, and all three have created headaches for the BCS and AQ conferences because they each have gone undefeated in the regular season but been shut out of a chance to play for a national championship game. That has happened for three straight seasons now (Utah in 2008; Boise State, TCU in 2009; TCU in 2010). Now only Boise State is left to wander the road to inclusion with its cohorts in the Mountain West, WAC, MAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt. Meanwhile, we are left to wonder whether or not the WAC will survive with the Broncos, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii joining the Mountain West (Hawaii in football only).

[+] EnlargeBoise State's Kyle Brotzman
AP Photo/Cathleen AllisonBoise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a field goal attempt to win the game at the end of regulation against Nevada and an attempt to take the lead in overtime.
2. Boise State loses. This one qualifies as a bigger story than TCU making the Rose Bowl for one big reason -- the Broncos more than the Horned Frogs served a symbol of the non-AQ team trying to break the national championship glass ceiling this season. No non-AQ team brings out more vitriol than Boise State. Its critics see the Broncos as a bunch of whiners who play in a weak conference and have done nothing to deserve their national attention. Most everyone expected Boise State to move past TCU in the BCS standings when the season ended. But Nevada had other plans, and its stunning overtime win qualifies as the upset of the season.

3. TCU to the Rose Bowl. For the second straight season, the Horned Frogs went undefeated in the regular season and earned a BCS berth. Because of a caveat in the rules, the Horned Frogs ended up going to the most prestigious bowl game of them all: the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. And this time, they get what they wanted last season -- a chance to play a big-time AQ program to prove they belong in the national conversation. TCU has more than playing for itself on the line in this game. It has the hopes of all non-AQs on the line as well. Of course, we have seen other non-AQ teams win their BCS games only to have nothing change. Utah and Boise State have BCS wins, but they have done nothing to alter the perception that they should remain outsiders.

4. Nevada. The Wolf Pack deserve it after upsetting Boise State to ruin the Broncos’ hopes of playing in a national championship game. They ended up with a share of the WAC title and the best season in school history. Let’s not forget Colin Kaepernick and all he has accomplished in his career, rewriting the school and NCAA record books along the way. Coach Chris Ault is set to get a contract extension, and his Pistol offense has swept the nation. So what Nevada did this season not only helped itself, but is helping plenty of other teams as well.

5. The service academies. This is the first year in history that all three service academies played in a bowl game. Not only that, this is the second time in history all three have finished with seven or more wins in the same season. Army coach Rich Ellerson deserves much of the credit here because he has been able to turn around a moribund team and make it competitive. Army cadets have been asked for years when this program would actually win some games. They now have their answer. When you consider the commitment of these young men, not just to football but to this country, all three academies deserve a salute for a job well done.

Others: Miami (Ohio) turnaround from 1-11 to 9-4; San Diego State turnaround from 4-8 to 9-4; Kellen Moore finishing fourth in the Heisman; Ohio mascot taking down Brutus the Buckeye; three MAC coaches go to AQ schools (Al Golden, Mike Haywood, Jerry Kill).

Treadwell hired as Miami (Ohio) coach

December, 31, 2010
Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell has been hired as head coach at Miami (Ohio), returning to lead his alma mater.

The school made the announcement Friday and will officially introduce Treadwell at a news conference Jan. 10. Treadwell replaces Mike Haywood, who left to become head coach at Pittsburgh. The RedHawks had the best turnaround in college football this season, going from 1-11 in 2009 to 9-4 and MAC champions this season.

Treadwell is in Orlando preparing for the Capital One Bowl against Alabama. He will attend the Bowl between Miami and Middle Tennessee on Jan. 6.

"It's a dream come true to return to my alma mater, Miami, as head football coach," Treadwell said in a statement. "Miami has always held a special place in my heart, and the opportunity to be a part of the 'Cradle of Coaches' is a privilege as well as a responsibility.

"I have a blueprint for success for our student-athletes: in the classroom, on the playing field and in the community. Everyone in the program plays an important role, and with all of us heading in the same direction, we can add a new chapter to the rich tradition of Miami football. I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and get started."

Treadwell was a four-year starter at wide receiver at Miami from 1978-81, earning first-team All-MAC honors as a junior and captaining the team as a senior. He had 73 career receptions for 1,540 yards, averaging a school-record 21.1 yards per catch. He joins a dignified list of Miami graduates who ultimately became the head coach at their alma mater, including Ara Parseghian, John Pont, Bo Schembechler, Bill Mallory, Tom Reed and Randy Walker.

As coordinator at Michigan State, Treadwell made a huge impact this season when he served as acting head coach for two games while Mark Dantonio recovered from a heart attack.

Lunchtime Links

December, 29, 2010
The Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman kicks off bowl coverage today. I picked Maryland to beat East Carolina.

Now on to some links:

The East Carolina defense is out to save face.

Speed and position switches define the TCU way.

Some Boise State players are back on Twitter now that coach Chris Petersen's ban is no longer in effect.

Looking ahead to San Diego State in 2011.

Army junior linebacker Steven Erzinger can turn to his identical twin brother for advice.

Time is running out for SMU receiver Aldrick Robinson.

Rudy spoke to TCU after practice Tuesday.

Miami (Ohio) quarterback Zac Dysert has been forced to watch his team's success from the sideline because of a lacerated spleen. Meanwhile, athletic director Brad Bates said nobody has been hired yet to replace Mike Haywood, despite rampant speculation that Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell had accepted the job.

How do you begin to replace a player like Colin Kaepernick?

Middle Tennessee has returned refreshed and rejuvenated as it began bowl preparations for Miami (Ohio).
Lance Guidry takes over as interim coach at Miami (Ohio) after Mike Haywood’s departure and will lead the team in the Bowl against Middle Tennessee on Jan. 6. I had a chance to catch up with Guidry on Friday afternoon, and here is a little of what he had to say:

How are you going to prepare the team for the bowl game?

Lance Guidry: We're going to stay with what we've been doing offensively and defensively, and on special teams, keep practicing the same way just like Coach Haywood would want us to. It's going to be a business trip. The kids when they heard Coach Haywood was leaving were upset. Some were upset more than others, but it's my job to get the troops rallied and that's what we're going to do. We're going to play hard.

Will there be other changes to the coaching staff for the game?

LG: Everybody is staying intact for the game, which is good, and one reason I said I would take it. Coach (Bill) Elias and Coach Haywood are the only two going. Everybody that has a position is staying on, so things are rolling as if it would have if Coach was still here.

Why did you decide to take the interim coach job?

LG: I was recruiting down south and I was in Louisiana and they called me told me to get on a plane. I knew he applied for the job and was close to getting it. I figured "uh oh" he got it. When I got back, we had a meeting at 10 at night. It was 9:40 and I was talking on the phone with my wife, walking through the offices. When they heard my voice, the equipment manager said, "Guidry get in here." Athletic director Brad Bates and associate athletic director Jason Lener were in there with Coach Elias, Coach Haywood and (offensive coordinator) Morris Watts. They were all smiling. I'm like, "what's going on?" I didn't know what to expect. They said, "we want you to be to be the interim coach." I said, "don't do this to me." But then I asked, "OK who’s with me?" They said, "everybody’s is going to be with you. Do you want it?" I said, "Yeah, I'll take it." Brad said they thought I’d be the best guy being I'd be enthusiastic and get the kids out of a funk quick. I'm honored they want me to do it.

So what did you tell the team?

LG: When I got in front of them, I told them don't forget what got them here. It was hard work. Two years ago they were coming off a really bad season. Everything was new. All the early morning runs we had and all that, getting our butt kicked being 1-11 to where we are right now. I said whoever the head coach is, he needs a good football team. That's what they wanted to hear. I told them, "I'm jumping into this thing with two feet in. I'm not thinking about going to Pittsburgh. I have to coach the game. They believe in me, so I think we'll be OK.”

Do you want to be the head coach?

LG: I've got mixed feelings. I'm not going to go out there on a limb and do that. I haven’t told Brad that I’m interested. There are going to be a bunch of good applicants with this job. If they ask me to apply I would probably apply, but I’m not going to lobby for it.

Grading the Pitt, West Virginia hires

December, 17, 2010
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?