Just WinRichard Linde, 25 July 2007
Willingham needs to sell some five-star recruits on his Dawg house,
to show us fans that he's a better closer than Jack Lemmon was in
Glengarry Glenn Ross. You know, "Coffee is for closers." On
second thought, the coach probably drinks decaf.
recruiting process, I think of a closer as some sort of rah-rah guy,
like Pete Carroll, who can overwhelm a blue-chip prodigy with his
enthusiasm, his knowledge of the game and his coaching record, and
then sign him on the dotted line.
Willingham doesn’t seem to wear the personality of a closer, that
is, as a zealot who can close the deal on a coveted five-star
recruit. If he were an astronomer, his telescope would be focused on
Moore of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer calls him “Paint Dry Ty.”
Also, at times, Tyrone humbly refers to himself in the third person and
will answer tough questions with coach speak and football homilies. During a
game, he almost seems to be too placid and disinterested at times. I wish he’d
tear at his thinning hair and shake the heck out of a gargantuan
lineman for missing a block, a time or two.
head-to-head with the other coaches in the conference for the same
recruit, in a battle of words, he’s got to be a 2000-word underdog,
kind of a Don James versus Jim Walden affair. Not to say he can’t
compete effectively against “Karl Dullard” and “Still Bill,” media
nicknames for Karl Dorrell (UCLA) and Bill Doba (WSU), where words
are the deciding factor.
Jim Owens and Rick Neuheisel were outgoing. Certainly, James could have been
a more dynamic person (more of an extrovert), but his personality seemed to
work for him. I always cringed when the media interviewed the Dawgfather, fearing he would put his foot in his mouth. Former coach
Keith Gilbertson was too gruff and rough around the edges with the
That’s not to
say the Willingham isn’t a good recruiter and that he can’t land a
highly-coveted PSA or two. It’s his potential to be an effective
closer in a competitive battle with other Pac-10 coaches that is in
question at this time -- the playing field being even, where
loquaciousness is the measure. He’s competing against some of the
best coaches in the country in the Pac-10. When he keeps the
highly-rated local talent at home, we’ll know he is on the road to
success at Washington, in addition to the scoreboard, of course.
Over the last
three years he’s lost local products Jonathan Stewart, Taylor Mays,
and Steve Schilling to schools outside the state of Washington.
When comparing Willingham with
USC's coach Pete Carroll, Mays has been quoted as saying this about
the recruiting process. "I think the
difference was Coach Carroll ...just his enthusiasm and how loud he
is and wild he is all the time. I just felt I could relate to that a
Mays plays safety for Carroll and is considered
one of the best at his position in the country.
recruiting season, Kavario Middleton is generally considered the top
prospect in the state. UW has extended him a scholarship offer,
along with Miami (FL), Oregon, California, Arizona State, and
Michigan, according to scout.com.
as a recruiting benchmark for Willingham, and he will be judged by
the fans on his ability to land him.
managed to pull all-everything Jake Locker out of Ferndale, though.
Stewart and Mays are likely to be first-round draft picks. The NFL
jury is still out on Locker and on whether little, old Ferndale is a
In the 2006
recruiting season, not being able to seal the deal on RB James
Montgomery out of Rancho Cordova, California was frustrating. During
the recruiting process, Montgomery orally committed to Willingham,
and later changed his mind and signed a letter of intent with Jeff
Tedford at Cal. Montgomery is what I mean by closing the deal on a
recruit. To start the 2007 season, Willingham will have only two
scholarship tailbacks on hand, one of them being a junior who is yet
to carry the ball.
mentioned Montgomery’s oral commitment on a radio show, which was in
violation of NCAA rules. To his credit, he turned himself in for
Wait, stop the
presses. Stop the ranting. We’ve gone too far.
If UW were
winning, all of my conjecturing about our coach’s ability to
communicate would vanish like a leaden object tied to Jimmy Hoffa’s
feet. We’d be saying that Tyrone speaks in metaphors, where his
paucity of words conveys a 1000-word picture.
Tyrone told me, those two words bringing hundreds of images to me,
like Ohio State falling to Washington this season.
And in the
privacy of his office, how do I know whether Willingham is talking a
recruit’s head off or not? A couple of thoughts here: (1) By his own
admission, he had an extended conversation with the grandson of
former Governor Dan Evans, and (2) Willingham's brother is a lawyer.
His persona and
2007 record notwithstanding, Willingham will be judged by the
recruiting gurus on his ability to land Middleton and, whether you
are a Willingham fan or not, he gets his five years at Washington,
unless someone miscasts him as a salesman in Glengarry Glenn Ross