With increasing calls for his job raining down around him, Washington football coach Tyrone Willingham said Monday that he would resign if he felt it was in the best interest of his players or the university.
“I’ve always said this, that it is important that everybody in our program be part of the solution,” Willingham said. “And I’ve always said that if I’m cynical about my job then, no, I don’t want to do my job.
“If I’m not living up to the tenets that I’ve set for myself and our young men in our program, then I’ll make the right decisions that reflect the right things to do for our young men and our university.”
As of Monday, as his 0-4 football team began turning attention to its Saturday game at Arizona (3-1), Willingham did not sound like a man anywhere near that threshold.
Asked how he would respond if his employer asked why he should be kept on in light of an 11-29 record over 40 games at Washington and a 76-80-1 record over 14 seasons at three major universities, Willingham responded: “Because I have the enthusiasm for it, the focus and concentration for it, and I’m still very much into what I’m doing.”
It appears Willingham will not have to make that pitch anytime soon.
When Scott Woodward became permanent athletic director 13 days ago, he said that he believes in evaluating coaches at the end of the season, and that he would fire a coach during the season only in special circumstances.
Woodward reaffirmed that stance Monday from Dallas, where he is attending a national meeting of athletic directors.
That suits Willingham, who continues to maintain that the Huskies can turn around this season – even after fans booed him and his team after their 35-28 loss to Stanford on Saturday, and even as calls for his firing were hotly debated in print, online and across broadcast airwaves.
“I think we can win football games,” Willingham said. “I think we can be a good football team. We’ve shown that we can score points on offense; even against Oklahoma we moved the football.
“Unfortunately, we turned it over, which is not good; you can’t do that against a great football team. I thought we had a heck of a football game against BYU. Against Oregon we didn’t do very much; but at the same time, at halftime that was a close football game.
“So I think there are some things there. What we have to do is figure out a way to get over the hump.”
That seems to imply Willingham has not yet reached his own criteria for resignation. He maintains he can be part of a solution that will come through the combined effort of this coaching staff’s planning and the players’ execution of those plans.
But even if he is not ready to walk away, he understands the ax could fall before he has the time he might need to succeed.
“I don’t make any excuses,” he said. “I never feel sorry for Tyrone Willingham. But the truth of the matter is, everything is not microwave popcorn.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808
Hear more from Willingham about his job status and weigh in with your own opinion at blogs.thenewstribune.com/uwsports
OH, woe for UW Quarterback sacks this season for Washington, last out of 119 NCAA Division I teams. College starts for redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch, who will start at quarterback in place of injured Jake Locker. Division I teams that rank behind UW in tackles for loss (Huskies have 13). Passing yards Huskies allowed to Arizona’s Willie Tuitama last season in a 48-41 loss. He is now a senior for the Wildcats. COACH ’EM UP
Won-loss records for Washington’s football coaches (since 1908):
Coach, years W-L-T Pct.
Gil Dobie, 1908-16 58-0-3 .975
Enoch Bagshaw, 1921-29 63-22-6 .725
James Phelan, 1930-41 65-37-8 .616
Ralph Welch, 1942-47 27-20-3 .570
Howard Odell, 1948-52 23-25-2 .483
John Cheberg, 1953-55 10-18-2 .344
Darrell Royal, 1956 5-5-0 .500
Jim Owens, 1957-74 99-82-5 .545
Don James, 1975-92 153-57-2 .726
Jim Lambright, 1993-98 44-25-1 .664
Rick Neuheisel, 1999-2002 33-16 .673
Keith Gilbertson, 2003-04 7-16 .304
Tyrone Willingham, 2005-present 11-29 .275
The remaining games on Washington’s schedule:
Sat.at Arizona4:30 p.m.
10-18Oregon St.4 p.m.
10-25Notre Dame5 p.m.