JM Rieger, Staff Writer

Less than two years after hiring the 33rd head football coach in school history, Miami University will now begin the search for number 34.

Former Head Coach Michael Haywood accepted the head coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) Dec. 15 after going 10-15 in two seasons with the RedHawks. Dec. 17, in the nearly empty head coach’s office, Miami Athletic Director Brad Bates thanked Haywood for his contributions to the football program.

“I want to thank Coach Haywood,” Bates said. “He has elevated this program in a very short period of time. He has established a foundation for the next guy to come in and really elevate this program. The future is very bright for Miami football.”

ESPN’s Joe Schad reports Haywood’s annual salary at Pitt is $1.6 million, which would be more than five times what Haywood made annually at Miami.

Taking Haywood’s place will be Defensive Backs Coach Lance Guidry, who will serve as Miami’s interim head coach for the Bowl Jan. 6. Guidry is in his second season with the RedHawks and has also served as a high school head coach in the 5A Athletic Division in Louisiana, the largest in the state.

The entire Miami coaching staff will stay on with Guidry to coach the Jan. 6 game against Middle Tennessee State University minus Assistant Head Coach Bill Elias, who also left with Haywood for Pitt. As a result, rumors have circled other Miami coaches may jump over to Pitt after the bowl, but nothing has been confirmed.

Meanwhile, players are trying to stay focused on their final game. A win would give this team a place in college football history, as they would be the first Division I team to go from double-digit losses to double-digit wins in back-to-back seasons.

“I feel like guys on the team took (Haywood’s decision) pretty hard,” sophomore defensive lineman Austin Brown said. “I talked to a lot of guys on the team and personally I thought (he was going to leave) after next year.”

Although most players are surprised at Haywood’s departure, they are still happy for the head coach who engineered the greatest turnaround in college football this year.

“It came as a bit of a surprise,” redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jason Semmes said. “After the MAC championship game people were talking about it. We watch the TV just like everybody else. There were rumblings everywhere, but we are happy for Coach Haywood and we are going to keep this thing going.”

While the team prepares for its first bowl game since 2004, the Miami Athletic Department now must begin the search for their next head coach.

“We do a real in-depth analysis of the current context,” Bates said. “We are going to try to match the qualifications of the candidates to that context.”

Bates gave no definite timetable for when the next head coach would be named, and said it would be based on finding the right person for the job. In the mean time, the current coaching staff will continue to recruit next year’s class to continue to build the program.