Pitt coach fired after felony arrest

NOTEBOOK: Pitt fires Mike Haywood after charges upgraded to felony; he was candidate for UW job in 2008

January 2, 2011 

Pittsburgh fired football coach Mike Haywood on Saturday, saying he could not continue in the job he held for 21/2 weeks because of his arrest on a domestic violence charge.

He was released Saturday from St. Joseph County Jail in Indiana on $1,000 cash bond after the charge was upgraded from a misdemeanor to felony domestic battery in the presence of a minor.

Within hours of Haywood’s afternoon release, Pittsburgh put out a statement from Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, saying Haywood had been dismissed, “effective immediately,” and the school was reopening its search.

“To be clear, the university’s decision is not tied to any expectation with respect to the terms on which the legal proceeding now pending in Indiana might ultimately be concluded,” Nordenberg said in the statement. “Instead, it reflects a strong belief that moving forward with Mr. Haywood as our head coach is not possible under the existing circumstances.”

Haywood’s hiring by athletic director Steve Pederson was greeted unenthusiastically by fans, boosters, alumni and students who questioned why a school with annual Top 25 aspirations hired him away from mid-major Miami (Ohio) after two seasons, including 1-11 in 2009.

Pitt will reopen its search during the same week the Panthers (7-5) – the Big East preseason favorites – are preparing to play Kentucky (6-6) in the Compass Bowl next Saturday.

Haywood’s firing came before he had landed a recruit, held a practice or coached a game for the Panthers.

Haywood reportedly interviewed for the opening at Washington in 2008 when he was offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, but the Huskies hired Steve Sarkisian.

WEIS TO FLORIDA

A person familiar with the decision says Florida hired former Notre Dame coach and current Kansas City Chiefs Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator.

The source said the hiring will be made public Monday.

MICHIGAN CHANGE?

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he plans to talk to coach Rich Rodriguez about his future soon after both are back on campus.

“After traveling back in the next day or two, I plan to sit down with Coach Rodriguez to go through the evaluation I’ve been talking about for months,” Brandon said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press a few hours after the Gator Bowl. “I probably won’t have more to say until the back half of the week.”

Rodriguez could not have helped his chances of returning for a fourth season with the Wolverines when Mississippi State routed his team, 52-14.

He said the speculation about his job has been “the elephant in the room.”

Rodriguez is 15-22 overall and 1-11 against ranked teams.

Asked whether he thinks he will return next season, Rodriguez replied, “You’re asking the wrong person.”

If he is fired, Michigan is expected to try to hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Michigan quarterback.

JC QUARTERBACK KILLED

Dominique Corder, a standout quarterback at Central Lakes community college in Brainerd, Minn., was shot and killed early Saturday in his hometown of Indianapolis, police said.

Corder, 20, who led Central Lakes College to a 10-2 record this season, was seen talking to someone in an SUV and then was shot in the abdomen. He died at a hospital.

The SUV fled the scene, and police were asking anyone with information to come forward.

ELSEWHERE

Two Virginia Tech reserves, running back David Wilson and safety Antone Exum, will sit out the first quarter of the Orange Bowl against Stanford on Monday after violating curfew. ... Cal running back Shane Vereen, who rushed for a team-high 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns, will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. He is projected as a second or third rounder.

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