Lately, the turmoil surrounding University of Washington football off the field has generated more headlines than any exploits on the artificial turf of Husky Stadium. The hiring of Tyrone...
Lately, the turmoil surrounding University of Washington football off the field has generated more headlines than any exploits on the artificial turf of Husky Stadium. The hiring of Tyrone Willingham holds the promise of a turnaround in more than wins and losses.
News of the fired Notre Dame coach coming to Washington, first reported by The Seattle Times Sunday, is an inspiration on several levels.
He is an impressive catch for a recumbent UW football program that is part of an athletic department deemed out of control. Change is coming. Quotes from past players point to a coach who runs a disciplined, orderly team. Athletes will be hitting the books as hard as their blocking assignments.
As for Xs and Os, his prior success at Stanford is ample evidence of better times ahead. All Willingham needs is a ration of time to reconstruct a proud, winning tradition. He struggled at Notre Dame, where his greatest liability was a sports regime impatient for miracles.
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Husky fans are also spoiled by success. Die-hard, loyal Dawgs? They could not abide losers. The last home game, against California, was played before a half-empty stadium. UW football is about winning, and Willingham will find Montlake as intense as South Bend on that point.
Here is another piece of tradition. Fans are also proud of their school’s academic reputation. They love winning, but also are embarrassed by slacker graduation rates. Willingham’s history of running a clean program for straight-arrow jocks who leave campus with a degree has a receptive audience here.
Likewise, Husky fans are proud UW President Mark Emmert and Athletic Director Todd Turner made Willingham one of only three African-American football coaches among top college programs. Washington stands alone with black football and basketball coaches.
Lorenzo Romar breathed new life in Husky basketball. Excited fans expect Willingham will do the same for a tired football program ready for an infusion of energy, character and leadership.