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Pitt Football And Mike Haywood: The Ugly Issue Of Race

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The Mike Haywood situation may take a while to resolve ... let's hope not. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The Mike Haywood situation may take a while to resolve ... let's hope not. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Man, I was really hoping we wouldn't have to deal with this. Maybe we won't, but it seems like the Mike Haywood situation may be going down a familiar path.

A representative from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, an entity with which Mike Haywood has filled out an application for a complaint, thinks said complaint is based at least in part on skin color:

Powers said that as far as she is aware, the basic allegation is that Haywood was discharged based on his race.

If this is true, insert "Ugh" here.

Look, I'll never say something happened for sure when I really don't have any idea. But I have a hard time believing race played even a small part in this. In fact, it's so far fetched in my opinion that it's barely worth addressing. But, essentially, it can come back to this: If Pitt had any racial motivation in its hiring/firing, why would they have hired him in the first place while many other more popular white candidates were out there (i.e. Tom Bradley)?

As a black man who went to Pitt, I've got to say that I think the school does a pretty good job of not only promoting diversity, but going out of their way to do so. Does racism exist in some form at Pitt in the form of some individuals? Sure it does - it does almost anywhere. But I think it's off base for anyone to come to the conclusion that Haywood was fired because of his race. We can debate all we want about if he was fired too quickly (I'm of the belief that he was not because of the nature of college athletics), but to me, race isn't an issue here.

But there's even more to this.

According to the article, Haywood's lawyer also mentioned that he was replaced by Graham, who makes considerably more money:

Buzbee said the most important issue is the lack of due process, but did mention the fact that Haywood’s replacement, Todd Graham, is white.

Pitt hired former Tulsa head coach Graham as head coach of the Panthers on Jan. 10.

"It’s certainly something that needs investigation," Buzbee said in June. "Understand that Coach Haywood was replaced very quickly by a coach that’s paid $500,000 more per year. The way this has all happened raised a lot of questions."

This point may be even more foolish than the whole race thing. I can understand and even appreciate to a degree the job the lawyer has to do, but man, this sounds like a huge reach to me. Graham was paid more because he was a higher profile candidate with a greater track record of success. There really isn't much of a comparison and it's pretty clear to me at least why Haywood wasn't paid as much.

Graham had five years of experience as a head coach to Haywood's two. Playing against tougher competition, Graham had four winning seasons and three ten-win seasons - Haywood had one winning season with nine wins. Haywood's track record as a head coach simply wasn't as strong as Graham's and in my opinion, it wasn't even close.

Please just let this situation die a quick death.