Mora's silence ... has Huskies fans feeling hope he could be their coach Mora's silence ... could stem from his reported $20 million Seahawks deal Mora's silence ... will continue to spark speculation about his future

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RENTON — The biggest question in Seattle sports walked off the Seahawks practice field without offering any answers Wednesday.

Jim Mora hasn’t yet spoken publicly about signing on to fill Mike Holmgren’s shoes for the Seahawks in 2009 so it figures he’d stay silent on the job opening at Washington where Mora played back in the day.

Thou shalt not speak about thy next job. That has been the rule of succession established by the Seahawks this season, one Mora has followed by remaining in his lane as the team’s secondary coach and head-coach-in-silent-waiting.

Multiple requests were made for clarification from the Seahawks on Mora’s status. No interviews with Mora were granted, no statement was issued from president Tim Ruskell and no answer came from Mora’s agent. Nothing beyond the announcement back in February when Mora was introduced as Holmgren’s successor at a news conference where neither were present.

The significance of all that silence depends upon the perspective. Washington fans see it as hope. To them, the lack of a definitive statement from Mora is just like saying that there is a chance he will end up replacing Tyrone Willingham. The Seahawks see the silence as an appropriate response, refusing to dignify all this speculation with a statement to reiterate what was laid out in February.

Mora has a deal to coach an NFL franchise with a state-of-the-art facility and a streak of five consecutive postseason appearances. He signed a contract. That much is certain. In fact, a contract was required for the Seahawks to promote an assistant from within the coaching staff to replace the current coach without interviewing minority candidates.

Mora has a five-year deal with the Seahawks that has been estimated to average more than $4 million annually. Only a handful of college coaches make that much. Guys like Pete Carroll at USC, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, if you count a $3 million bonus he’s scheduled to earn this year.

The specifics of Mora’s deal with the Seahawks aren’t known. They seldom are in the NFL, where contracts aren’t public record as they are at most colleges. In lieu of contractual details, fans want Mora to say something. He considers the Northwest his home and this is just too big a local story to stay quiet in the face of all this speculation.

Of course, it’s never that easy. If he says he’s happy with his current job, he not only risks appearing to diminish the significance of the school he attended, but there will be plenty who don’t believe that’s the end of the discussion. After all, it was just two years ago Nick Saban told a room full of Miami reporters that he wasn’t going to be the next coach at Alabama only to be introduced 13 days later as the next coach of Alabama.

Saban had a contract with the Dolphins, too. One that included a clause that allowed him to return to the college ranks. Same for Bobby Petrino, who bailed on the Atlanta Falcons for Arkansas last year.

But that’s not usually how it works. College coaches aspire to the NFL, not vice versa, and while there are plenty of coaches who went from the NFL to the NCAA, that’s usually in a retreat.

Carroll was fired from two NFL head-coaching gigs before he ended up at USC and Dave Wannstedt resigned in midseason from Miami before going to Pittsburgh. Saban went 6-10 in Miami before heading to Alabama and Petrino was 3-10 when he ditched the Falcons.

School pride is the wild card in Mora’s discussion, which is exactly why he has become a beacon for the Huskies’ hope. He is the person UW fans believe looks at the program and sees the stature it once held under Don James. .

The Huskies are coming up on a one-year anniversary since they last won a game. The program that went 26 years without a losing record will not play in a bowl game for the fifth consecutive season.

Logic says there’s no way that job compares to any of the 32 NFL head-coaching gigs, let alone one for the league’s richest owner.

But with nothing but silence from Mora or the Seahawks, the speculation will continue until someone is named coach of his alma mater.

Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com