Willingham appears short on time at UW

Willingham appears short on time at UW

Credit: AP

In this Oct. 18, 2008 file photo, Washington head coach Tyronne Willingham walks off the field after the 34-13 loss to Oregon State in an NCAA college football game in Seattle.

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by Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 12:35 PM

SEATTLE - The yellow paint on the benches in the lower bowl of Husky Stadium were more noticeable than the fans who stuck around to watch one of the worst offensive performances in Washington's history.

Those who remained made their feelings known. One held a sign saying "re-TY-re." Another wore a "Fire Ty" paper bag over his head. Perhaps the best was the fan offering Washington coach Tyrone Willingham back to Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish don't want Willingham. It seems only a matter of when before Washington's administration reaches the same decision, especially after Saturday's 33-7 loss to Notre Dame.

"Right now the thing we've got to draw on is basic pride," Willingham said. "We've got to step up, coaches and players and all of us have to step up and be better than what we did because this was not a good performance."

But Willingham very well could be gone at any time. Athletic director Scott Woodward has stated many times that he does not believe that an in-season coaching change is a prudent move, yet the Huskies have dropped nine straight, dating to last season, and are assured of not going to a bowl game for the sixth consecutive year.

Willingham is 11-32 in his four seasons, and the Huskies are 0-7 for only the second time in school history. Their losing streak is the longest in the country, tied with North Texas.

Woodward surely couldn't help but notice the exodus of fans from the stadium at halftime. Many of the 70,437 that stayed through Saturday's rout were Notre Dame fans more than willing to celebrate Willingham's demise after his three lackluster seasons with the Irish earlier this decade.

"Through all they're going through, they're staying steadfast, they're staying strong for us and that really means a lot," tight end Michael Gottlieb said of Washington's coaches. "That's inspiring to me. I hope people can recognize that, how strong of a character they've been able to show for us."

Character is great if it translates to the field, which it failed to do again Saturday.

Washington's offensive performance was on pace to be the worst in school history until a touchdown drive in the closing moments. The Huskies didn't run a play on the Notre Dame side of the field until about the 6-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Washington gained 69 of its 124 total yards on its final drive, capped by Ronnie Fouch's 6-yard touchdown pass to D'Andre Goodwin that kept Washington from being shut out at home for the first time in 32 years.

Granted, the touchdown came against guys Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis admitted "never play."

The Huskies had only 5 yards passing in the first half as Fouch hit on just 1 of 9 passes, constantly getting thrown to his backside by the Notre Dame rush. Washington finished with a mere 26 yards rushing on 23 carries.

"It was just frustrating to have so many three and outs, and punting the ball so much and not being able to put any yards or points on the board," Goodwin said, reciting much of the same discouragement from his teammates.

Even when the Huskies seemed to have something positive happen, the result was a net negative. Nate Williams came up with the Huskies' first interception since Sept. 6 against BYU in the second quarter, picking off a deflected pass from Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.

Of course, the ball was intercepted at the Washington 1, on a fourth-down pass attempt that would have given the Huskies the ball at the 32 if it had fallen to the ground.

It's been that kind of season.

"Things obviously haven't been going our way at all," Williams said. "But like I said, I'm going to stay with this until the end of my career. We know we have a good team, we know we have the talent and we have to go out there and play together and play hard as a team and we'll be all right."

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