The Tyrone Willingham Legacy

Kevin CacabelosSenior Analyst IDecember 10, 2008

The Tyrone Willingham era for the Huskies has officially come to an end. A great guy but a terrible coach. Despite the piling up of losses throughout his tenure, Willingham was as professional as a coach could be.

He never blew up at the media, trying his best to answer questions that he simply didn't have answers to. Just about all of the post-game press conferences had a Groundhog Day-type feel to them—the same questions and the same answers. In the end, that might be what failed him. Maybe Willingham didn't have enough fire or passion for this job.

But after observing him in his four years at Washington, I can say with confidence that it's not in his character for him to be like that. He's a serious and disciplined coach, but that never translated onto the field, as his team was anything but disciplined.

I expected to see Willingham put out a well-polished machine every game, but too many times fans saw disorganized units that were often penalized and confused a good amount of the time.

I absolutely loved his student first, athlete second approach. However, this again could be what failed him. The high academic standards he held for his players just did not work at Washington. Maybe they worked at Notre Dame and Stanford (both private institutions), but at Washington he spent a lot of his energy worrying about off the field issues rather than on the field issues.

Sure, this was a change from the lax coaching style of Neuheisel (see: Victory in Ruins), but I feel there needs to be a balance between a players' coach and a strict coach like Willingham. Hopefully Sarkisian provides that balance.

One bright spot of Willingham's tenure had to be his recruiting ability. You have to give credit to Tyrone for what he was able to bring in each year despite being armed with a horrendous record. Also, you can't forget the fact that they were competing with a national powerhouse in USC.

How in the hell did the Huskies get Jake Locker?

Thank Tyrone Willingham.

Also, don't forget that the Dawgs pulled in a top 20 recruiting class in this year's freshman class, which included Lakes TE Kavario Middleton. There is a lot of talent on this team—it's just a matter of developing it, something Willingham failed to do.

On the field, though, Willingham sucked. Game after game Husky fans saw no halftime adjustments made, with the team making the same mistakes and the same penalties they committed in the first half.

It just never clicked. I wanted him to succeed so badly—he deserved it. But he couldn't win ball games. In the end, that's what it comes down to. Here's to the new coach of the Dawgs, Steve Sarkisian. Just win. Just win baby.

photo source: [nbc]

What's your final verdict on Willingham?