Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes about the supposed turning point for Coach Willingham and his tenure at Washington this morning. Bob points to Washington's 4-2 start and the injury to Isaiah Stanback against Oregon State in 2006 as being the turning point for the program under Tyrone.
Instead, UW lost its next four games after Stanback was injured, and the program has never really recovered. It's 5-19 since that day, 3-15 in Pac-10 games.
I remember that particular game and it was clear pretty early that the Oregon State defense had our number that day with or without Stanback being in the game. I do think that if he wasn't injured the team would have beaten Stanford, WSU, and maybe someone else which would have resulted in the team going to a bowl game.
The one thing that stands out from that time more to me than Stanbacks injury was the strange in season announcement before the Stanford game that Ty was going to pull scholarships from a number of fourth year seniors. I thought the logic of the timing was totally whacked. It was at that time that any private hope I had of Willingham turning things around began to fade. If you can't get your team up to beat a terrrible Stanford team at home your goose is cooked and it is just a matter of time. I don't buy the out of QB's excuse in 2006 either. If you play Jake chances are you beat Stanford.
Would things be different today if Washington had gone to a bowl game in 2006?
- It would have built some much needed confidence into the program at a time it needed it most. A bowl game in 2006 may have been the emotional boost the team needed to win the close one's it lost in 2007. Maybe Willingham could be coming off two straight bowl games.
- It would have given a boost to the 2007 recruiting class that finished in the mid 30's. It still wouldn't have been able to cover for the first two mediocre classes that Willingham brought to the table.
- Willingham most likely would have received at least a roll over year in his contract for getting to a bowl game in his second year.
- Todd Turner would still be athletic director because Ty's job wouldn't be in immediate jeopardy.
- The 2008 team would still be near the bottom of the Pac Ten with or without Jake Locker.
The seeds for the 2008 disaster weren't sewn when Isaiah Stanback suffered his lisfranc injury. The seeds were sewn when Ty didn't hit the road recruiting immediately when he was hired to run the program.
It happened again in his second class when he let Taylor Mays and Steve Schilling get away. The first two recruiting classes he had at Washington just buried him.
Not getting to bowl games in 2006 and 2007 when he had the talent to do so didn't get him the extra time he needed to overcome his first two mediocre recruiting classes.
All Willingham needed was 2-4 more victories during his tenure and he would likely have 3 or more years left on his contract at this point. The discussion to fire him would be moot at this point despite the program being in the same place as it is right now.