Coach Tyrone Willingham's dismissal as coach of the Washington Huskies was the No. 1 topic today in the Pac-10 football coaches' conference call.
Everyone asked spoke well of Willingham, as might be expected.
Beyond the compliments, a few pieces of news dribbled out.
First, Oregon State coach Mike Riley made it clear that he has no interest in leaving Corvallis for Seattle.
And second, Willingham himself said he met with his staff yesterday morning, but that he did not formally offer them the same decision that he was offered: whether to leave immediately or coach the final five games. Indications are that all will stay, and Willingham said he expects them to react professionally.
Willingham said that he emailed most of his players with the news yesterday, and that he will discuss the topic with them as a group when they resume practice today. However, he then wants to shift their focus as quickly as possible to the Saturday game at USC.
Meanwhile, Trojans coach Pete Carroll said the news doesn't affect his team, but he does believe it will affect the Huskies. Carroll said he expects UW to play with great passion for their coach on Saturday.
Otherwise, the call was filled with tributes to Willingham. Typical was Oregon's Mike Bellotti, who handles such questions well in his role as dean of Pac-10 coaches:
"I have great respect for Tyrone Willingham, both as a friend personally – because he and I have coached against each other for many years and he's been in and out of the conference and has done a tremendous job representing football coaches across the nation. He's the president of the (American Football Coaches Association) and in that role I think his leadership has been essential in to us continuing to move forward. He has been a guy that I respect as a coach, I like and admire as a person and it's always difficult when things don't go right to see how it happened. I don't have any understanding of the inner workings of that thing, but I thought they handled it in a manner that allowed him to finish this season and coach his players, and I think that's really important. And he certainly had a choice probably not to do that, but knowing Tyrone there's no other way he'd go out but coaching his guys and doing it the right way. I've always felt that Washington is a scary situation. They've had great recruiting years each of the last couple of years, in my opinion. A lot of kids that we would have liked to have had stayed in the state. I think he's done a very good job in that regard. But as he said himself, if you don't win enough, it's not going to matter."