Back in December 2004, as Tyrone Willingham was being introduced as Washington’s football coach, he made a statement that– in retrospect — was strikingly bizarre.
“It is time for the University of Washington to return to being the Dawgs,” Willingham said. “It is my understanding that a dog is a vicious animal.”
Now eight games into his fourth and final season at UW, Willingham’s football team has lost all hope. The Huskies are 0-8 and riding a 10-game losing streak. Last Saturday’s 56-0 loss at USC was beyond an abomination. Willingham’s players weren’t vicious, they were listless. They weren’t tough as steel, they were soft like Play-Do. They weren’t full of spit and vinegar, they were demoralized and flatter than a training bra for a 10-year old.
Against the Trojans, the Huskies clearly gave up on their coach, whose 11-33 record is horrible by epic proportions. As the only BCS Subdivision team without a win in 2008, Washington football has been reduced by Willingham to a smoldering rubble.
In daily life, when doctors and lawyers make colossal errors, they become vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits. Conversely, when an incompetent coach like Tyrone Willingham destroys a football program, he’s given a $1 million buyout and publicly lauded for being a man of character and integrity.
The reasons for this warrant discussion in a different article. But rest assured the University of Washington is taking precautions to avoid any accusations of bullying their black head coach, as befell Notre Dame when they fired Willingham back in 2004.
If Tyrone Willingham is a man of integrity and honor, he will resign immediately. If he truly wants what’s best for the University of Washington, he will put the program above his own interests. If he’s honest, he will admit that he has completely lost this football team. He’ll realize that his overbearing pride causes him to cling to the wooden facade that he is a quality football coach. If he only knew that some of his contemporaries at other schools mock him behind his back. If he only knew that his coaching skills are not respected by his colleagues.
If Willingham can look past his own ego, he will see a football team that is hurting and rudderless. He will see a team devoid of self-esteem and a desire to win. He will look into the faces of senior players like Juan Garcia, Michael Gottlieb and Jordan White-Frisbee, and realize that by finishing out the season, he is dooming them to additional misery and a possible 0-12 conclusion.
There’s a saying that goes, “Where there is no hope, the people perish.” If Willingham truly wants to do right by his players, he can proffer them the gift of hope. He can resign immediately, and remove his toxic presence from the team’s collective psyche, allowing for a potential spark of hope.
If only Tyrone Willingham could realize that by continuing to stay on as UW coach, the only interests served are that of Tyrone Willingham, and no one else.