Haywood's role with the 2005 Irish offense was a vital one, assisting head coach Charlie Weis as the Irish attack shattered numerous records. Meanwhile, his work with the Irish running backs also yielded impressive results. Tailback Darius Walker surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and set an Irish record for pass receptions by a back in a season. Also, reserve tailback Travis Thomas was one of the team's most improved players and freshman fullback Asaph Schwapp developed into a key role player early in his Irish career.
Haywood's return to familiar turf in South Bend was the latest stop in a successful career as one of college football's top assistant coaches. A four-year football letterman at Notre Dame (1982, 1984-86), Haywood joined the Irish staff after serving two highly successful seasons at the University of Texas. A 17-year coaching veteran, he served as Texas' running backs coach and co-special teams coordinator for two seasons - and was promoted to recruiting coordinator for 2004.
Haywood tutored All-American running back and 2004 Doak Walker Award winner Cedric Benson who finished the 2004 regular season ranked first in the Big 12 Conference and fourth nationally in rushing at 160.4 yards per game. Benson led the conference and finished fourth nationally in scoring with 20 touchdowns (19 on the ground) - and set an NCAA record by rushing for at least one score in 37 straight games. The Longhorns ranked second nationally in rushing in 2004 (302.4 yards per game), ninth in total offense (466.3) and 14th in scoring (35.0 points).
In his first season at Texas in 2003, the Longhorns ranked fifth nationally (and first in the Big 12) in rushing at 241.0 yards per game. Texas' 2,892 rushing yards were the most for the Longhorns since 1977 and Benson rushed for 1,277 yards (seventh on the Texas all-time single-season list) and 20 touchdowns (third on the Texas all-time single-season list) en route to all-Big 12 honors. Benson led the nation in scoring at 11.6 points per game.
Haywood previously served as LSU running backs coach from 1995-2002 and also was the Tigers' special teams coordinator in 1997-98 and 2001-02. During his time in Baton Rouge, Haywood helped produce some of the finest running backs in LSU history - and in those eight seasons the Tigers played in six bowl games and won five of them.
In 2001 and 2002, Haywood developed LaBrandon Toefield into one of the Southeastern Conference's top backs. Toefield tied an SEC record with 19 rushing touchdowns in 2001 and finished the year with 992 rushing yards on 230 carries en route to first-team all-SEC honors. The 2000 Freshman All-American ran for 475 yards in 2002 despite missing four games due to a broken forearm. Domanick Davis proved to be the perfect complement to Toefield as he rushed for a team-high 931 yards and seven scores in 2002. In 2001, Davis recorded 406 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season and added 122 yards and a Sugar Bowl-record four rushing scores in Toefield's absence. Toefield (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Davis (Houston Texans) were both selected in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft. Haywood also was instrumental in developing Kevin Faulk, Rondell Mealey and Cecil Collins into three of the most productive running backs in school history. Faulk left LSU with virtually every rushing record, while Mealey capped his career ranked in the top 10 in both rushing yards and rushing scores. All were selected in the NFL draft following their respective senior seasons. The New England Patriots chose Faulk in the second round, Mealey was drafted by the Green Bay Packers (seventh round) and Cecil Collins drafted fifth round to the Miami Dolphins.
As special teams coordinator, Haywood had LSU among the best in the SEC in nearly every statistical category. In 2002, the Tigers led the SEC and ranked seventh nationally with a 24.1-yard kickoff return average and third in the league in punt returns (13.9-yard average). Led by punter Donnie Jones' 44.0-yard average (fifth NCAA, second SEC), they also stood 12th nationally in net punting on the year. In 2001, LSU ranked eighth in the NCAA in net punting (39.6 avg.) and the Tigers were tops in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing just 15.2 yards per return. Individually, Davis earned second-team all-SEC honors after leading the league in punt returns (13.8 avg.).
Prior to his stint at LSU, Haywood was the position coach for three All-Mid-American Conference players at Ball State from 1993-94, while helping the Cardinals claim the 1993 MAC crown. Wide receiver Brian Oliver earned all-MAC honors and was tabbed the league's freshman of the year in 1993 and, one year later, running backs Tony Nibbs and Michael Blair earned all-conference honors. He also served as the Cardinals' co-special teams coordinator during his two seasons.
Haywood started his coaching career at Minnesota as a graduate assistant in 1988, and then went to Army as an assistant coach from 1989-90. He coached the Cadets' defensive backs his first year before mentoring the defensive ends in 1990 and also working both years with special teams. Haywood then moved to Ohio University in 1991 where he tutored outside linebackers and assisted with special teams for two seasons.
Born Michael Anthony Haywood on Feb. 26, 1964 in Houston, Texas, he played flanker during his freshman season at Notre Dame (started five games and caught 13 passes for 128 yards in 1982), then moved to cornerback where he was a significant contributor and starter from 1984-86 (13 career starts, 78 tackles, five interceptions, two blocked kicks). Haywood is a 1986 graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in government from the College of Arts and Letters.
The Mike Haywood File