You couldn't blame University of Pittsburgh fans if they are wondering tonight just who in the world is the new football coach.
His name is Mike Haywood, and he comes to Pitt, a program with lots of history (though not much in recent years), with very little history of his own. He's been a head coach for only two years, although in his second year he turned a deplorable Miami of Ohio team into conference champions.
Miami is considered to the "cradle of coaches", a term held seemingly in awe in college football. What could make Haywood different, should he over time be linked to that cradle, is that he is black. In fact, he is the first African-American head coach in the history of Pitt football.
As the news of Haywood's hiring spreads here in Pittsburgh, there are sure to be some people who ask -- and it's a justifiable question -- if the university's athletic department settled on someone because he wouldn't be as expensive as other, more high-profiled candidates.
The program is best remembered over the past 20 years for the Dan Marino years, which ended in 1982. Since then, the Panthers have been average, and in the college football world that is not good enough. And they are part of a Big East conference that remains unable to generate a consistent winner that is able to contend for a national championship.
No, hiring a "name" coach wouldn't have guaranteed Pitt a better chance of moving into that elite tier of college programs. Nor does bringing in Haywood suggest that it cannot move into that elite company. But perception is important, and tonight one of them will be that the Panthers athletic department was interested in hiring the affordable guy, not necessarily the best guy.