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MICHAEL HAYWOOD: Haywood returns to learn offense from Weis

Mike Gilloon | Friday, April 22, 2005

Michael Haywood didn’t know if he should take the job. He was the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas, working for a program that was 21-4 during the past two seasons and boasting some of the finest facilities in the nation. So when Charlie Weis offered him the position of offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Notre Dame, Haywood phoned Kevin Faulk – a New England Patriots running back who Haywood had coached at LSU – for advice.

“He told me you couldn’t learn to be an offensive coordinator under a better guy,” Haywood, a former Irish defensive back, said. “From the quality of person [Weis] is, from the family man he is, from the quality of coach he is … [Faulk said] I think you should go and take the job.”

Haywood listened to the advice, deciding to pack his bags and move back to South Bend.

He lettered at flanker during his freshman year at Notre Dame in 1982 and suited up for 13 starts at cornerback from 1984-86. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Minnesota in 1988. Haywood then made short stints at Army, Ohio State and Ball State before landing a job as running backs coach at LSU in 1995.

Haywood was a senior at Notre Dame in 1986, preparing for a game in the locker room against Alabama, when then-Irish coach Lou Holtz led Haywood and his teammates through a pre-game mental exercise.

“[Holtz] had us go through this whole visualization,” Haywood said. “During that I drove to a school, I went to a stadium and I was getting out of my car in a coat and tie with a briefcase in my hand. At the end of the day, I was standing behind a desk with a T-shirt and a whistle and a pair of shorts.”

When he opened his eyes he had tears rolling down his face.

“That was when I first thought I wanted to coach,” Haywood said.

That game against Alabama turned out to be the last game he would ever play, as he blew out his knee during the 28-10 loss to the then-No. 2 Crimson Tide.

On Sept. 3, Haywood will lead the Irish against Pittsburgh – almost 19 years to the day he decided to become a football coach. For him, the chance is literally a dream come true.

“When the opportunity came, I felt like it was time for me to come back home,” Haywood said. “What a great opportunity to bring back the glory days at the University of Notre Dame.”