OXFORD, Ohio - Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Haywood was hired Tuesday as the football coach at Miami University, which went 2-10 this season.
He replaces Shane Montgomery, who resigned last month. The RedHawks went 17-31 during his four seasons.
“I knew this was the place because there were so many similarities in education (and) the type of student-athletes that are recruited there,” Haywood said late Tuesday.
Haywood becomes the sixth black coach among the 119 Bowl Subdivision schools and joins a university known as the Cradle of Coaches because Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes coached at the school before becoming famous — as did former Fighting Irish coach Ara Parseghian. Haywood has been Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator the last four seasons and has no direct ties to the RedHawks.
The 44-year-old coach was in Honolulu with the Irish, getting ready to play Hawaii on Wednesday night in the Hawaii Bowl. He’ll be introduced at the Ohio school next week.
Sitting poolside at the team hotel and wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops, Haywood said he was offered the job Monday and the paper work was processed early Tuesday. He said board members at Miami assisted him, along with Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who was “extremely instrumental.”
Haywood said people have a misunderstanding of his relationship with Weis, whom he called a mentor and “one of the finest men in college football.”
Weis has called the Irish’s offensive plays in last three regular season games after Haywood missed practices to attend a cousin’s funeral. Weis will also call the Hawaii Bowl.
“I don’t think he’s been given the respect he deserves as an offensive coordinator, as a head coach and as a man,” Haywood said.
Haywood said three weeks after the death of his young cousin, her mother died suddenly because of a blood clot.
“People didn’t realize everything and all the adversity going on in my life,” he said. “(Weis) really helped me tremendously in dealing with that from a professional point of view and an emotional point of view. And it meant the world to me.”
Haywood’s agent, Albert Elias, said he agreed to a five-year deal with Miami. Haywood also was interviewed for the vacant Washington and Syracuse jobs this season and with Houston and Minnesota last season, Elias said.
“He feels bittersweet about leaving Notre Dame — that’s where he went to school — but we really feel like we have a chance to win there and be successful,” Elias said.
Haywood is the second black head coach hired by a Mid-American Conference school in the last two days. Eastern Michigan hired former Louisville and Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English on Monday.
Haywood said he felt in was important to have more black head coaches in college football.
“Now there’s six minority head coaches in Division I-A football, which provides an opportunity for us to set the path for some of the younger coaches that are out there,” he said.
Haywood said he’s already talked to a few people about joining his staff.
When asked if any were on the Irish staff, he said: “I’m not at liberty to talk about that yet because we have one more game to play. After tomorrow night, Coach has given me permission to talk to certain individuals. I’ll talk to them before I get on the plane.”
Haywood played flanker and cornerback at Notre Dame in the 1980s and has been an assistant the past 22 years, starting as a defensive and special teams assistant at Army in 1989-90. He also was an assistant at Ohio and Ball State, two other MAC schools, before moving to LSU in 1995 as running backs coach. He was at LSU until 2003, when he went to Texas for one season, then moved on to Notre Dame.
Haywood said one of his selling points were mentors he learned from, such as Lou Holtz, Nick Saban and Mack Brown.
“I see myself as a combination of all of them,” he said. “Each one of these guys has helped me become the coach I am today.”
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