Mike Haywood and the 10 Shortest College Coaching Tenures
By now, the news has circulated around college sports circles about Mike Haywood and the embarrassing end to his 16-day tenure as head football coach for the University of Pittsburgh.
Interestingly, though, this isn't the first time that something like this has happened in college sports. It's not even the second or the third.
As long as there are alcohol, strippers and cops, it seems, there will be a near steady stream of stories like this breaking almost every year.
There's an old adage that says, "Those that do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." Well, college coaches must not be learning from the past, because they keep repeating it.
Here, then, are some of the most glaring examples of history repeating itself.
10) Mike Haywood, Pittsburgh
For the uninitiated, Haywood had been the coach of Miami (Ohio) and had been a bit of a rags-to-riches story, leading the RedHawks to a complete turnaround of a season.
In his first year at the helm in 2009, they had been an abysmal 1-11. Amazingly, one year later, they went 9-4 and won the Mid-American Conference championship, qualifying for their first bowl game since 2004 in the process.
This success led Pitt to hand Haywood the reins after outgoing coach Dave Wannstedt (yeah, that Dave Wannstedt) was forced to resign after a disappointing 7-5 season that followed the Panthers being ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll and going 10-3 last season.
That was on December 16th. But on New Year's Eve, Haywood was arrested on charges of domestic abuse stemming from an incident in South Bend, Indiana, where he allegedly grabbed and pushed the mother of his child. Pittsburgh officials moved quickly to investigate the incident and terminate Haywood.
His 16-day tenure is certainly on the list, but it is by no means the shortest.
9) Mike Price, Alabama
Price was hired by the Crimson Tide in December of 2002 to replace Dennis Franchione. He had previously coached at Washington State since 1989 and had just come off leading them to back-to-back 10-win seasons and Top 10 AP rankings.
Before he even was able to begin his first season, however, he found himself under scrutiny for a night he spent in Florida. After visiting a local strip club, he was seen apparently checking into a hotel with one of the strippers from the club, who ran up a large bill that was charged to the room.
He was accused of giving the stripper a promotion to hooker, which he denied, but at that point, as far as Alabama was concerned, it didn't really matter anymore. In May of 2003, he was given the boot and replaced by Mike Shula.
While Alabama has certainly recovered in recent years to return to national prominence, the same can't be said of Washington State. The Cougars have gone a combined 5-32 over the last three seasons.
8) George O'Leary, Notre Dame
O'Leary became a stain on Notre Dame's legacy in 2001 when he was hired away from Georgia Tech to replace Bob Davie after a disappointing 5-6 season.
Soon after he was introduced, multiple fabrications on his résumé were revealed, including the fact that he had not, in fact, earned a masters degree at "NYU-Stony Brook University" (never mind that NYU and Stony Brook are two completely separate and distinct institutions) and he had not, in fact, been a football letterman at New Hampshire (never mind that school officials there claim that he never even played in a game).
He was canned on December 13th and replaced with Tyrone Willingham (who would go on to a reasonably successful first season with the Irish, winning 10 games).
As scandals and quick ousters go, O'Leary's was relatively benign compared to some of the other doozies on this list—so at least there's that.
7) Lane Kiffin, Tennessee
This was not even close to being the shortest coaching tenure on the list, but it is easily one of the strangest, so it warrants a mention here.
It's worth starting before his time at Tennessee, back to when he was an assistant with USC from 2001 to 2006. (This is one of those "full circle" stories.)
Eventually, he was hired to be the youngest head coach ever, at 31, of the Oakland Raiders.
The Lane Kiffin era in Oakland was tumultuous, to say the least, with various accusations of backstabbing and impropriety flying back and forth between Kiffin, his staff and owner Al Davis. It ended with Kiffin being fired midseason in 2008 and filing a lawsuit against the team to recover some of the remaining money on his contract (he lost).
This chain of events, of course, made him the perfect candidate to fill the Tennessee head coaching position. He coached there for one up-and-down season, but in general, all seemed to be going according to plan as the year 2010 dawned. He was beginning his recruiting efforts for the new season.
Everything changed, though, when Pete Carroll left USC to rejoin the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. This meant the USC job was open. Kiffin had coveted the USC job. You tell me what happens next.
Yep—Kiffin immediately (like, the next day) bolted for USC, leaving Tennessee in the lurch, and instantly became the most hated sports figure in the state since Mike Jones.
6) Bobby Cremins, South Carolina
Switching sports over to college basketball, we now find the first of our fake-outs in the form of Bobby Cremins.
Cremins, the longtime Georgia Tech head coach, was actually briefly hired by South Carolina, his alma mater. He took the job on March 24th, 1993 amid much fanfare.
He then proceeded to enjoy one full day on the job—you know, to give it a shot—before deciding, after two days, that it wasn't for him.
Luckily for him, he was able to turn right around and head back to Georgia Tech, who were all too happy to have him back. He would end up coaching there for another seven years before finally leaving in 2000.
Hey, actually, come to think of it...Bobby Cremins, do you know George O'Leary? You guys have more in common than your school.
5) Rick Majerus, USC
Majerus joined the ranks of the speed-dating coaches in December 2004, when he was hired to be the new basketball coach at USC.
He had left his longtime spot at Utah in the middle of the previous season due to health concerns but was apparently feeling better and was scheduled to take over for the Trojans for the 2005-06 season.
The unfortunate truth, however, was that he wasn't feeling better, and five days later, he resigned. This perhaps falls under the category of "the right decision," but it just could have been handled in a much better, less sloppy fashion.
Eventually, Majerus did return to coaching in 2007 with Saint Louis University. So...so much for the rest of your life, huh Rick?
4) Tim Welsh, Hofstra
Tim Welsh should be feeling somewhat relieved right about now. He is no longer the most recent example on this list.
Welsh spent 10 seasons as the head men's basketball coach at Providence before being fired in 2008. He then seemingly landed back on his feet, albeit in a less high-profile role, when he was hired by Hofstra University last March.
Unfortunately, he apparently couldn't handle the news, as just a month later he was found asleep at the wheel of his car and arrested for DWI. Yeah, those letters, in that order, never spell good news, and he was promptly shown the door.
After all, Hofstra's nickname is the Pride.
3) Gregg Marshall, College of Charleston
Gregg Marshall, do you know Bobby Cremins?
Marshall built an excellent program at tiny Winthrop starting in 1998, and by 2006 he was starting to receive attention from some bigger schools. He was finally wooed by the College of Charleston, agreeing to become their new basketball coach for 2006-07.
Before he even had a chance to learn which Charleston this college was in (South Carolina, for the record), however, he promptly changed his mind and went right back to Winthrop.
The Eagles welcomed him back, and together they did beautiful things that year, finishing 29-5, winning the Big South regular season and tournament championships, winning a game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the school's history and finishing the season ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in the school's history.
So how did he reward the school's loyalty to him? Why, by bolting the very next season to coach at Wichita State—how else?
Oh, and who did the College of Charleston pick up the pieces and move forward with instead of Marshall? One Bobby Cremins...uh-huh, that's right. There's some lesson about six degrees of separation or Kevin Bacon or something here, I know it.
2) Dana Altman, Arkansas
Dana Altman's story is a very similar one to Gregg Marshall's. It's almost as if they communicated telepathically, or they're two halves of the same person, or something.
Altman also paid his dues building a perennially successful program at a small school. For Altman, it was Creighton, as he led the Bluejays to nine straight 20-win seasons and seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament through 2007.
This caught the attention of the administrators at Arkansas, and he was hired in May to take over their program and replace Stan Heath. Before the ink was dry on his contract, though, he did an about-face, deciding that it was better for his family if he stayed in Omaha.
He ended up spending three more seasons at Creighton, leading them to two more 20-win campaigns but no more NCAA tourney appearances, before leaving (for real this time) to take the reins at Oregon this season.
The Razorbacks, meanwhile, have struggled through two straight losing seasons but are off to a 10-2 start this year, so perhaps there are better days ahead in Fayetteville.
1) Billy Donovan, Orlando Magic
Donovan gets an honorable mention here. His saga involved a short stay in the pros, but it was decidedly a college story, so I'm giving him a pass to be included (I'm sure he's thrilled).
As most people probably remember, he was on top of the college basketball world in 2007, having just won Florida's second consecutive national championship, the first school to do that since Duke back in the early '90s.
At the same time, however, he was also losing a number of his best players to graduation or the pros (including the entire starting lineup), and the future didn't necessarily look so bright in Gainesville.
So Donovan did what any logical person would do in that situation (and I'm not being entirely facetious): He signed a big-money contract (five years, $27.5 million) to join the pro ranks at the height of his power and value.
He had only been on the job with the Orlando Magic for one day, though, when he publicly expressed reservations about having taken the new job. The NBA is much tougher than the college ranks, of course, and being competitive on a regular basis is far less certain, dealing with grown men, free agency and the like.
So he put his tail between his legs and reached an agreement with the Magic to release him from his contract before slinking back to the Gators.
His, however, is a story with a happier ending than most others on this list, as he quickly recruited one of the top freshman classes in the nation going into the next season and has continued to lead Florida to 20-win seasons each year since.
If only we all could have the "integrity" to renege on a $27 million contract.