I'm a Cougar through and through, and I cry no tears when the U-Dub suffers. I consider it good karma. But I must applaud them for hiring Tyrone Willingham...

Share story

Tyrone Willingham

Congrats from a Cougar

I’m a Cougar through and through, and I cry no tears when the U-Dub suffers. I consider it good karma. But I must applaud them for hiring Tyrone Willingham. The most important attributes he brings to the program are character and integrity.

Don James was an arrogant man who refused to take responsibility for the program’s downfall. Rick Neuheisel was a slick brat who thought he was just too cute to get in trouble. I already have 10 times more respect for the U-Dub knowing that Willingham will be on their sideline, and I wish him nothing but success — except against the Cougs!

— Donald Piper, Altadena, Calif.

The pride is back

Great choice. He has demonstrated he can win. And as important as winning might be, I am thrilled to have a coach with high moral standards and one who will bring discipline and responsibility to the team and to the game. This is college, and these are kids who need and want this kind of guidance.

Willingham will win, and he will field a team of fine young men we can all be proud of. He will bring pride and respect back to Huskies football. He will coach and mentor ballplayers who will have a better chance in the world after football because of him.

I can hardly wait for next season.

— Jon Stuart, Vancouver, Wash.

Still more progress to be made

I recently spoke with a Caucasian friend about the Willingham hiring. He was extremely proud that the UW had made this great statement in hiring an African American coach, and that the UW was the only NCAA Division I-A school with African American coaches heading both the football and men’s basketball programs.

He was appalled when I said I was less than proud of my beloved UW because I felt there were boosters who were less than thrilled to bring in an African American coach. He was totally perturbed when I was unable to produce specific facts to back up my assertions, but racism is often subtle and there aren’t always specific facts to highlight the perpetration.

As an African American man, I have never been one to cry racism at the drop of a hat, but this conversation has forced me to evaluate why I feel the way that I do.

I take my hat off to UW president Mark Emmert and athletic director Todd Turner for choosing the best candidate for the UW, a man who possesses a track record that would lead us to believe he will restore the integrity and respect that has been missing in recent years. This is something that is well earned and long overdue!

However, I cannot rejoice at my former school’s “progress” until university presidents, directors, boosters and society recognize me for what I am, their equal. I will be satisfied not when I receive a handout or a hand, but when I am afforded the same opportunities that my Caucasian counterparts receive.

— Rick DuPree, Seattle

Right man, right time

The University of Washington will find Willingham to be the man they need at this desperate football time. Coach Willingham has never treated anyone without respect, and he has shown himself to be a square-dealing person.

— Dean Thomas, Cicero, Ind.

Future looks bright

It appears that the UW has found the solution to its recent football troubles. They’ve gone out and hired a good man for the job, one who should help return the program’s dignity and standing. I’d been wondering if the apparent lack of control and good judgment that had permeated the program through to Rick Neuheisel’s firing would prevent the UW from digging itself out. Now there’s light ahead.

Now they’ve got a coach who will attract quality players and, hopefully, quality student-athletes. Because while winning certainly is nice, and essential, to do so with athletes who actually graduate, stay out of trouble and represent the school well should be the ultimate goal of a university. Let Miami keep the thugs and punks.

— David Brown, Seattle

Not a good sign

Headline from the Seattle Times: “UW’s man runs a tight ship (Dec. 13).”

May be a tight ship, but his track record says mediocre ship. What a mistake!

This gives me a lack of respect for the new president and athletic director.

— Mike Ryan, Los Angeles

A man of character

As past director of the career development centers at both the University of Washington and Stanford, I have had many opportunities to work with coaches in presenting programs to assist student-athletes seek appropriate career opportunities upon graduation. No coach has impressed me more with his genuine and sincere support of athletes as students and young men than Willingham. He is a man of impeccable integrity and tremendous loyalty, and he truly loves and supports his athletes.

Let me give an example: I was presenting a program on résumé writing and job-search skill development for the Stanford football team for about the fourth time, and each time Willingham was there with his players. When I finally asked him if he didn’t have something better to do with his time, his response was, “Bob, I expect my players to be here, so I need to be here, too.”

This is a coach and mentor who teaches by example. While time will tell whether his tactical skills of putting the X’s and O’s together will produce a winning program (I believe he will), he is the right coach at the right time for the UW.

As a longtime Huskies fan, I am both pleased and excited to see a person of Ty Willingham’s character, stature and skills lead the UW football program into a new era.

— Bob Thirsk, Mount Vernon

Give him time

Ty Willingham is a great choice to head up (and shore up) the UW’s football program — but only if he and the university are willing to stick together for the long haul.

Two essentials to the success of this partnership are that the UW and my fellow alums don’t expect a bowl-quality team instantly or annually — and that Willingham is interested in staying for a number of years, as Don James did, to build and maintain a program that produces success both on the field and in the classroom.

We must never lose sight of the fact that however well or otherwise the team members perform on the field, the UW’s primary responsibility is to educate them and prepare them for productive lives that in most cases will not involve playing football.

It seems particularly heartening that the fact that coach Willingham is black apparently had no bearing on his selection by the UW. I hope it’s a long, happy and productive association and that the only colors anyone cares about are purple and gold — and of course, in the fullness of time, rose.

— Diane Read, San Francisco

No end to decline

I stood by the Huskies through this disastrous season, but now that Tyrone Willingham is the new coach, I’m no longer a Huskies fan. Why? I don’t have the heart to watch the decline anymore and don’t see any improvement on the horizon anytime soon.

First, Tyrone Willingham only was successful at Stanford for a short time, then failed at Notre Dame. What makes you think he will succeed at UW?

Second, UW hired a coach that is 0-5 against the Huskies! What were they thinking?

Third, if they would have held out a little longer, they could have had three NFL coaches to choose from or at least talk to.

Fourth, UW deserves better than a mediocre coach!

Tyrone Willingham is a good man and so was Keith Gilbertson, but they aren’t good enough to take the Huskies back to their glory days.

I thought I’d never see the day I’d turn against the Huskies.

— Jack Moskovita, Renton, Wash.


Where’d they go?

OK, who kidnapped the Mariners’ front office and replaced it with one willing to pay the loyal fans back for filling the stands with 3 million visitors a year?

Whoever it was, keep the old crew locked up, because this team just became fun again. Reading the story (Seattle Times, Dec. 12) about how Howard Lincoln keeps all the insults thrown his way by the media in his desk was enough to make me sick for the holidays, but suddenly I can’t wait for baseball season.

Hey, the Mariners might lose 80 games next season, but at least I won’t be watching a bunch of 28-year old rookie journeymen being marketed as the future of the Mariners.

— Derek Harper, Kirkland

Bring the Unit home

OK, so I’m greedy. I want it all. This year. I want Randy Johnson home. I want him pitching in the World Series with us. I want Seattle to be the story in baseball this year. Haven’t we been the bridesmaids long enough?

We are one starting pitcher away from being the best team in baseball. That pitcher is Randy Johnson. We can do this. It’s the boldest move in franchise history. But it’s the right thing to do, We can be champions in 2005.

— Ron Hooker, Seattle

Winter dreaming

Boy, this almost seems like a dream. Here I am, way up in cold Anchorage; what must the avid sports fan be going through in the Seattle area?

The Mariners have big signings, the Sonics are on fire, and the Seahawks aren’t completely dead.

— Tom Thibodeau, Anchorage


A familiar look

This team looks just like the rest of the Paul Allen ventures, particularly the Trail Blazers — lots of money, plenty of talent over time, fair to poor coaching, but a lack of management and leadership in the organization — Bob Whitsitt and others — who just seem to be empowered by Allen to live with mediocrity.

If it were not for the different shaped balls the teams play with, the scene in Seattle and Portland looks exactly the same. The two cities are about to lose a very loyal fan base and deserve better.

It is Allen’s money, and if he wants the teams as an expensive hobby it’s probably OK. He just needs to let us all know so we don’t get our hopes up in excess of his intentions. Empty seats, advertising money and unhappy fans may not get results.

— Roger R. Wristen, Lake Oswego, Ore.

Whitsitt should go

I just wanted to say thank you for Steve Kelley’s article “Holmgren looks like he has lost his edge” (Seattle Times, Dec. 9). You guys at the Times, I’ve observed, have been known to get pretty down on the Hawks after weeks like these. I think Kelley did a wonderful job to point out why this madness isn’t (all) the coach’s fault.

I couldn’t agree more with his statement, “But if it is a coach’s job to put his players in a position to make plays, then I don’t think Holmgren should be fired.”

Personally, I want Bob Whitsitt’s head after the season. I think two very poor decisions were made by him:

1) Matt Hasselbeck needed a contract extension before the season. Mike is right when he points out that a contract year weighs very heavily on a quarterback’s mind. I think that is a big part of why Matt has struggled. 2) The Grant Wistrom deal. He didn’t need to throw down that huge signing bonus. Sure, Wistrom has proven to be worth most of the money. But this isn’t the NBA: Whitsitt has a hard cap to manage.

Don’t get me wrong, Wistrom is an incredible player and I couldn’t be happier to have him on my team.

If Holmgren isn’t back, that would be too bad. But heck, look at what happened in Tampa when they switched. Perhaps change will turn things around. If nothing else, we all know we have an incredible nucleus.

Maybe it’s time to mortgage the future — make sure we keep Shaun Alexander and retain Hasselbeck. His free-agent price will be reasonable. I don’t think this team is very far away from approaching the expectations of this year. Maybe a few players, others that grow up a bit more and a new coach (with the same system) will put them over the top.

Or maybe, keep the coach and fire the GM.

— Doug La Farge, Flagstaff, Ariz.

Holmgren should stay

I, for one, am a big Hawks fan, and have found myself in countless battles with individuals who want Holmgren’s head. I would like to see him stay. He has been given a bum rap, more I think from the front office than anything. If he goes, it will be a big loss for the community and the organization.

I loved the aspects of the West Coast offense, and what he has done with Matt Hasselbeck.

— Myles Kopytko, Oak River, Manitoba

Send us your backtalk:
Letters bearing true names, addresses and telephone numbers for verification are considered for publication. Please limit letters to 125 words or less. They are subject to editing and become the property of The Times. Fax them to 206-464-3255, or mail to: Backtalk, Seattle Times Sports, PO Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. Or e-mail to: sports@seattletimes.com.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks