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Mike Haywood: One Notre Dame Fan's Thoughts

With thanks to MUDawgFan, we have received the following thoughts on Mike Haywood from the founder and writer of the Notre Dame blog, Blue Gray Sky. Here are his insights:

I imagine the first response from many Miami fans is why they hired a new head coach who recently had his offensive coordinator duties yanked by Coach Weis. Well, to be completely honest, Haywood’s playcalling wasn’t stellar during the early part of the season. On the other hand, it was his first year calling plays and it’s not like the offense suddenly took off when Charlie resumed play-calling (ND was shut out by BC the first game Charlie took back play-calling). The issues with ND’s offense the past two seasons goes far beyond Haywood’s playcalling in my opinion. And given that Haywood’s not going to be calling plays for Miami (I’m guessing), I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about why Charlie took playcalling back. As we’re learning with Charlie Weis, a track record as a star offensive coordinator doesn’t mean a guy will automatically be a great head coach. Likewise, Haywood’s short stint as ND’s playcaller shouldn’t mean much with regards to his ability to run and manage a program. (Of course, hiring an experienced OC would be a great first move for him)

Haywood’s strengths are that the players all really seem to like him. He comes off a bit dry on the interviews, but during the practice clips when he’s around the team he’s much more animated. I don’t know if he’ll keep up the same approach now that he’s the head coach though or let the assistants play the “player’s coach” role. I do know that the past few years he’s seen Charlie Weis make plenty of rookie head coaching mistakes, so hopefully for your sake he was paying attention. Working under Nick Saban and Mack Brown certainly can’t hurt either.

As for offense, ND’s offense was 100% Charlie’s even with Haywood being the OC. I imagine some sort of pro-style offense is what he’ll wind up fielding, but that’s just a guess based on what he’s worked under at ND, Texas, and LSU. His OC hire will likely be a bigger clue than whatever happened at ND. I do think that he likes running the ball more than the pass happy offense ND has fielded under Weis. Of course, as the running backs coach (he did a great job here) he also probably wanted to see his guys do more than pass block.

Switching to recruiting, we all thought his recruiting coordinator position at Texas was a clue that he was a dynamite recruiter. That isn’t really the case though. He was never ND’s top recruiter in terms of walking into living rooms and wooing recruits and parents alike. His RC experience at Texas seemed to be more related to running a recruiting operation and all of the organization and logistics that go with that. That’s doesn’t sound as exciting as getting a pure salesmen, but you need both to successfully recruit, especially in talent rich state like Ohio that so many other programs like to cherry-pick. ND has really been ahead of the curve lately in terms of identifying junior recruits and getting early interest and I think Haywood played a role in that. You can always hire a top recruiter for an assistant position to help close the deal once you’ve identified your top targets.

Despite becoming something of a scapegoat for ND fans, I still like Haywood and think he’ll be a pretty solid head coach for Miami. He’s a very hard worker, the players like and respect him, and he’s coached under some very successful and demanding coaches. He’s spent time coaching at various positions on both sides of the ball during his 20+ years as an assistant and by now should have some solid contacts in the coaching world, which helps when it comes to hiring assistants and recruiting. As with all first time head coaches, it will be important to see how he assembles his coaching staff and adapts to the more managerial role of head coach. Hopefully he’s up to the job.

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