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A few weeks after he coached his last football game for the Washington Huskies, a reporter phoned Keith Gilbertson a little after dinner time.

He didn’t seem to mind.

“You’re the only call I’ve had all day,” he said with a laugh.

Such is the life for a football coach the minute he becomes an ex-football coach, which, for now, Gilbertson is.

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Gilbertson, 56, plans to have long-needed hip-replacement surgery shortly after the first of the year, then take a few months to recover. Until then, he said, he’s unlikely to pursue any coaching positions in college or the NFL.

“I’m not going to have anything for a while,” he said. “I’m not really looking. My winter is going to be way different. I’ll be out of the market for a while.”

Gilbertson sounded uncertain what he’d do once he’s back in the market. But he said that before he became head coach at UW in the summer of 2003, his plan had been to stay at Washington one more year and then head for the NFL. He needs two more years to qualify for the NFL’s pension.

He’d be fine with the right college job as well, though he said he’d be reluctant to work for a school that would play Washington. He didn’t rule out that he could someday return to UW in some capacity, though he doesn’t think it will happen.

He insists, however, he’s not bitter about how his head coaching career at UW ended after this season’s 1-10 disaster.

“My situation there was kind of unique in that I never really felt like I was more than the interim coach,” he said. “Not that I feel I was mistreated or anything. I just never was the guy. Never was the long-term answer.”

Bob Condotta