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Kiffin interested in Washington opening

Greg Bell

SEATTLE ” Ex-Raiders coach Lane Kiffin has expressed interest in the opening at the University of Washington just hours after the school announced Tyrone Willingham will not return next season.

“The University of Washington is a great job, one that I’m sure a lot of people have an interest in,” Kiffin told The Associated Press while watching Monday Night Football at his home in the Bay Area.

It came open for 2009 on Monday afternoon when Washington announced Willingham’s dismissal, effective at the end of this season.

Kiffin spent six years as an assistant in the Pac-10 with Southern California, the last two as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator, before becoming the Raiders coach in January 2007.

Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said he would likely begin the search for Willingham’s replacement soon.

When asked if he might name a new coach before this season ends, Woodward said, “I would not rule that out.”

Naming a successor before Washington’s season finale at California on Dec. 6 would be a large step toward salvaging what is potentially a lost recruiting class this winter for the Huskies.

Many fans in Seattle are already clamoring for the Huskies to throw millions at Seahawks defensive backs coach Jim Mora, to trump the contract Mora has already signed with the NFL team to replace Mike Holmgren as Seattle’s coach beginning in 2009.

Mora grew up in Seattle, played at Washington from 1981-83 as a linebacker and began his coaching career at the UW as a defensive assistant under Don James in 1984. He once joked about Washington being his dream job in an offhand remark to a Seattle radio host and friend.

The Seahawks did not make Mora available to comment on Monday. The Seahawks say the former coach of the Atlanta Falcons has an ironclad agreement to coach them next year. His contract to succeed Holmgren is believed to be worth almost $5 million per year. That’s far more than the $1.4 million annually, including deferred compensation, Willingham made at Washington.