Even before UW offcially confirmed that Kent Baer wouldn't be back as defensive coordinator, fans and media were speculating who would be wanted -- and willing -- to come in and try to improve that Husky defense.
The current defensive staff includes two men who have served previously as UW defensive coordinator: defensive line coach Randy Hart (1995-98) and linebackers coach Chris Tormey (1994). Tormey also has been head coach at Idaho (1995-99) and Nevada (2000-03).
I've always been intrigued by Tormey, who I thought had a fantasticly innovative defense at Idaho. As a Southern Miss alum, I especially remember his Vandals beating my Golden Eagles in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise with a defense that sometimes used only two -- sometimes even one -- down linemen. The other advantage with Tormey, of course, is that he'd take the job. It's an open question as to how many established guys would want to come in to a place with no athletic director and significant uncertainty regarding this staff.
If Willingham goes outside the current staff, he could consider names such as DeWayne Walker, who was defensive coordinator at UCLA and whose status is uncertain since the firing of Karl Dorrell; and Ron English, defensive coordinator at Michigan whose status on Rich Rodriguez's new staff hasn't been announced.
They're both highly regarded guys, who could be retained at their present schools, or have a choice of coordinator jobs, or even head coaching jobs. Or they could be facing a little run of unemployment and decide UW might just work.
Other names also drawing speculation despite what strike me as pretty high degrees of improbability are Ed Orgeron, the former Miami and Southern California assistant recently fired as head coach at Ole Miss; Mark Banker, current defensive coordinator at Oregon State; and Jim Mora Jr., Seahawks secondary coach and UW alum.
I can't imagine any of those guys coming. Orgeron figures to have better options. I don't know why Banker would leave an established gig for such an uncertain one. And I can't see Mora leaving his current position for anything but the top job.
Meanwhile, a reader below posted a pretty enthusiastic vote for Jon Tenuta of Georgia Tech. Here is the latest I could find on his status.
Exceptionally interesting off-season we got going here.