Willingham sounds off
November 25, 2008
SEATTLE ” On his way out at Washington, Tyrone Willingham keeps revisiting the past.
And in the process he’s taking shots at the Huskies’ program he inherited four years ago, one that certainly doesn’t appear in any better shape as Willingham heads for unemployment after Washington’s season finale Dec. 6 at California.
“Only time tells that. That’s the only thing you measure by is time. Hopefully there are some things in place that in time will show themselves better than written,” Willingham said on Monday.
Yet only two days earlier, after the Huskies’ stunning 16-13 double overtime loss to equally woeful Washington State in the Apple Cup, Willingham avoided taking full responsibility for his 11-36 record in four seasons at Washington, bringing up mention of the Huskies situation in 2004.
“Obviously, if you’re the head coach at this time, you take responsibility for what is going on ” but, it should also be noted, the day that I arrived, what the state of the program was,” Willingham said after Saturday’s loss.
It was the second straight week Willingham made a veiled comment about the state of the program when he arrived following his firing at Notre Dame. After the Huskies lost to UCLA on Nov. 15, Willingham said he was told by current players that the senior class had quit on coach Keith Gilbertson, who was fired during the Huskies’ 1-10 season in 2004.
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Asked Monday why he continues to make reference to down state of the program in 2004, Willingham simply questioned “is it not a fact?” then ended his news conference.
What is likely to be debated over the next two weeks leading to the finale at California is the Huskies status among the all-time worst Pac-10 teams. A loss to the Golden Bears would make Washington (0-11, 0-8 Pac-10) the first 0-12 team in Pac-10 history. The Huskies became the second conference team to ever be 0-11 following Saturday’s loss, joining the 1980 Oregon State Beavers.
The only other Pac-10 team in the last 50 years to be winless and have at least 10 losses was Stanford in 1960, when the Cardinal were 0-10.
And there are plenty of other accolades ” all negative ” the Huskies can still add with a loss at California. There’s the chance at the first winless season for the school since 1890 when Washington went 0-0-1; extending their losing streak to 14 games, one short of the Pac-10 record; and the opportunity to become the 22nd Football Bowl Subdivision team since 1996 to go winless.
“You go out and try and win a game. That’s all we can do at this point,” linebacker Donald Butler said after Saturday’s loss.
The Huskies appeared poised to get out of the winless column on Saturday leading 10-7 with less than a minute to play and WSU at its own 20. But Washington defensive backs Quinton Richardson and Tripper Johnson were beat on a 48-yard reception by Jared Karstetter that setup Nico Grasu’s 28-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime.
Willingham said Monday the pass from WSU quarterback Kevin Lopina to Karstetter should have been intercepted. Instead, the teams went to overtime and Grasu hit the game-winner from 37 yards in the second extra session after Washington’s Ryan Perkins had missed wide right from the same distance.
It was a shocking conclusion for the Huskies to accept.
“We should have been able to make the right plays there to win the football game, and we didn’t,” Willingham said.
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