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Pay the Man
By Casey Anderson, Posted 3 December 2004

Iíve always been of the opinion that a well respected college football program isnít supposed to hire a recently fired coach.  After all, a coach doesnít get fired for leading his team to BCS bowl games and being adored by fans and alumni.  Any self-respecting Husky fan knows that coaches get the pink slip for gambling, lying, cheating, or having a 1-10 record.

Tyrone Willingham left Stanford for the Irish-green pastures of Notre Dame a few years back, only to find himself 13-15 in his last two seasons and unceremoniously booted out of South Bend by the cleated sandal of Touchdown Jesus.  Apparently, while he still had the respect of his players, the 2002 Coach of the Year didnít meet the lofty expectations of the Notre Dame alumni and fans.

Thereís that word again.  Respect.  Some of you readers out there may remember it if youíve been a Husky fan for long enough.  I have a vague recollection, some time in the pre-Neu eraÖreach farther back, past the dark age of HedgesÖmaybe we need Madame Cleo for thisÖAh, wait, there it is.  Behold!  I glimpse a vision of purple-clad tailbacks running roughshod over opponents, of visitor sidelines quaking in fear, ofÖcan it be?  Yes!  I see defense!  And now, itís beautiful, I see the other 9 schools turn to the north to BOW DOWN TO WASHINGTON!

But in the later 90s the vision falters with an unforeseen changing of the guard, and the Huskies are no longer the Lords of the Pac-10 Rings.  The usurpers are undeserving Ducks, heartless Cougs, and blue-powdered Bruins, all in a fit of uproarious laughter at the purple and gold jokers in the Emerald City.

And the Dawgs have sure put on a good show, havenít they?  Theyíve run a 4.2 forty through the gamut of NCAA infractions over the past decade.  Thereís been so much daytime drama in Montlake of late that Iím surprised they donít have commercials for shampoo and lipstick on the Huskytron.

We need Tyrone Willingham because he does not drive a minivan.  Tyrone Willingham doesnít dance around in a funny lookiní hat.  In short, the guy takes no garbage from nobody.  Tyrone Willingham demands respect, and respect is what the University of Washington Huskies are sorely lacking.

I will concede that Willingham may not be the best candidate as far as the Xs and Os are concerned; that honor would probably have to go to Mr. Tedford.  However, I think that Willinghamís positives far outweigh any of his negatives.  UW is in serious need of a nice long hiatus from the controversy of the last dozen years; Willingham is about as squeaky clean as they come.  The Huskies are also in need of some stability.  Unlike Jeff Tedford, who presumably has his eyes on the NFL prize, Willinghamís personality exudes college football.  In addition, heís been to the (perceived) pinnacle of college coaching in Notre Dame, so it seems that any job he takes would not be taken with the desire to move on at the next available opportunity.

Speaking of opportunities, this is also an opportunity for the University of Washington to be the only Division 1 athletic program with an African-American head football AND head basketball coach.  On the philosophical end of the spectrum, it would be a credit to the university, making the UW a leader in diversity and a trailblazer on social, political, and cultural fronts.  Wow, thatís quite a mouthful for a white boy from the Ďburbs just trying to talk football. 

And speaking of football, how could all this not help recruiting?!  Parents, send your kids to Seattle where youíll find a beautiful campus, a (hopefully) freshly renovated, state-of-the-art 90,000 seat stadium (letís all keep our fingers crossed on that one, eh?!), and a well-respected coach and mentor, a man who will instill discipline in your son!  Kids, come be a Dawg, follow your fearless leader into battle as a member of one of the most storied football programs in the good olí US of A, where youíll meet diverse people, get a great education, and have a pipeline to the pros!

Unbeknownst to Notre Dame fans, but apparent to the rest of the known world, the Irish arenít what they used to.  ND fans are stuck in the 1940s, unwilling to admit that the landscape of college football has changed.  Iím not going to claim that Willingham is godís gift to football, but I do believe that he wasnít given a fair chance by Touchdown Jesus, and that he has a ton to offer the University of Washington.


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