Washington athletic director Todd Turner arrived back in town yesterday without a football coach in tow but apparently much closer to finding one. Sources said that Turner and...

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Washington athletic director Todd Turner arrived back in town yesterday without a football coach in tow but apparently much closer to finding one.

Sources said that Turner and UW president Mark Emmert met with Boston College coach Tom O’Brien on Wednesday, interviewed former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham yesterday and made another run at Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr. in the last few days as their search for a successor to Keith Gilbertson intensified.

O’Brien was apparently impressed by what he heard. The Boston Globe reported in today’s editions that O’Brien met with BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo yesterday and indicated he would take the Washington job if it is offered.

Asked if UW had offered the job to O’Brien, DeFilippo said, “I can’t answer that. You’ll have to ask Tom that.”

O’Brien would not respond to a Globe reporter who asked if UW had offered the job, saying that he was heading to Connecticut on a recruiting trip.

Sources said Willingham met with the UW contingent yesterday apparently in Chicago. Interestingly, the Los Angeles Daily News reported yesterday, citing unidentified sources, that Willingham had “lost interest” in the Washington job.

Turner, reached last night in Seattle, had no comment on the specifics of the search. He said he could still not put a timetable on when an announcement will be made.

It remained uncertain where Mora fits into the picture. Several sources said Turner and Emmert tried again to talk to Mora after Mora had earlier told them he wasn’t interested.

It’s thought UW wanted to make sure Mora — a former UW player who attended Interlake High School — couldn’t be lured before moving on to other candidates.

But Mora told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday that there “was nothing to it” of reports linking him to the UW job. Mora, in just his first year with the Falcons, is the son of longtime NFL coach Jim Mora, who also once worked as a UW assistant.

If O’Brien gets the job, he will already have one big fan in Seattle — former Seahawks offensive lineman Ray Roberts.

Roberts played at Virginia while O’Brien was an assistant there — O’Brien was his position coach for four seasons.

“I just liked him,” Roberts said. “He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy. Everybody is going to work the same.”

Roberts said he has talked to O’Brien several times in recent days — although he was unable to get a hold of him yesterday — and said O’Brien was excited at the prospect of coaching the Huskies.

Roberts pointed out that BC is moving into the ACC where it will have to compete in the Atlantic Division with the likes of Florida State and Clemson. Roberts said that BC has stricter entrance requirements than many of those schools, which may make it tough for the Eagles to compete.

“I don’t know if he thinks the sky is the limit with Boston College,” Roberts said. “Whereas the sky could be the limit here. There’s nothing to say you can’t win a national championship at UW.”

Roberts also said O’Brien, whose entire career has been spent in the East, wasn’t worried about the challenges of recruiting in a different geographical area.

“He said, ‘Recruiting’s recruiting. It’s tough everywhere,’ ” Roberts said.

Roberts said O’Brien was responsible for recruiting “two-thirds” of the players who made it to the NFL while he was at Virginia, including the likes of Terry Kirby, Chris Slade and Tiki and Ronde Barber.

Roberts said he knows many around the UW program want a return to the kind of tough football the team was known for under Don James. O’Brien, he said, “is the kind of guy who could bring that instantly back.”


• True freshmen Jordan White-Frisbee and Greyson Gunheim have been named to The Sporting News Pac-10 all-freshman team. White-Frisbee, a defensive tackle from Inglemoor High, had 26 tackles. Gunheim, a defensive end from Sebastopol, Calif., had 16 tackles.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Staff reporter Bud Withers contributed to this report.