Saturday's loss to Washington State in the Apple Cup was perhaps the bitterest loss in Tyrone Willingham's four year tenure at Washington. The Huskies outplayed the Cougars nearly the entire game but missed three field goal attempts and ended up losing to what was until yesterday the worst team in college football. Now the University of Washington owns that title for the first time in a history that stretches over 100 seasons.
Art Thiel of the Seattle PI had this comment.
Losing this game means the Huskies are last in everything: Last in the conference, last in the college football nation, last in all statistics.
Willingham refused to take sole responsibility for it after the game.
"Obviously, if you're the head coach at this time, you take responsibility for what's going on," he said. "But it should also be noted, the day that I arrived, what the state of the program was. I take responsibility for where we're at, but there's also a process."
What Willingham is trying to say is that the program was in such a shambles when he arrived that he needed more than four years to clean it all up. That doesn't adequately explain why four years later with most of his own players on the roster his current team is 0-11.
Later he was asked if he would definitely be on the sideline for the Cal game.
Willingham stared at the questioner without giving a response, then after a follow-up said "I think it's a bad question.'' Willingham then said "you should stop asking the question'' and said he would have the ''same answer'' every week.
Willingham needed to step completely down for the good of the program after the USC game and he didn't do it. That was really the only thing that was going to give this team a chance to win a football game this season. So what we get is one more week of uninspired football before a potential savior is named to rescue the football program.
The most debated call of the game was Willingham's decision to punt on fourth-and-three with the ball at the WSU 36 and 1:04 left in the game. Willingham thought it was better to try to make WSU go the length of the field then trying to run the ball for three yards and just end the game right there. UW punted the ball into the end zone which meant a net gain of only 16 yards.
One UW player, RB Terrance Dailey, questioned it afterward.
"We were going to run a stretch to the right. It's a three-yard stretch in open field and I really thought I could get it. Coach just wanted to be safe and punt it, but I don't know, we might have been able to get
That play call really sums up the entire game and Willingham's tenure at Washington. He wasn't playing to win. He was playing not to lose. You don't win football games doing that. Washington built a ten point lead at the half and played tentatively the entire second half. Willingham has become completely gutless and it showed on that play call.
Willingham had this excuse.
"Well initally we thought we might go for it and then I thought we made the right decision to go and punt the ball and giving them the field to go. They had not had that much success all day driving the football. We had been in control most of the day so you figure you that you give yourself the best chance to win by making them go as far as possible to make a play and we gave up a big one and didn't allow ourselves to do it.''
Willingham had these comments concerning the long pass that broke the teams back in the fourth quarter allowing WSU to tie the game and send it to overtime.
“We just didn’t track the ball. We let them get behind us and that’s a situation you can’t let happen.” He added, “It was the right defense.”
It may have been the right defense but one of the players that was in there was injured only a few plays before and shouldn't have been in the game. Quinton Richardson was thrown under the bus by Willingham who had this to say about him on the play.
"I don't know what was going through the young man's head on that play."
Well coach you are the guy who has been coaching him for two years. Perhaps you should know what it is going through his head.
Willingham was asked what words he had for his 0-11 team after losing to the worst football team in the country.
"Let's go home."
Let's go home?
Encouraging words from the supposed molder of men.
There is only one more game left in this season gone wrong. Hopefully Scott Woodward will give us a break and pull the plug on Willingham and send him in to retirement early before the California game.
One can only hope.