Oct. 27, 2008
Tyrone Willingham & Scott Woodward Press Conference Transcript
Willingham: "Okay, good morning. We'll go ahead and get started a little bit different. I think we usually allow questions, telephone first. But I'll go ahead and make a statement, regarding my future as the head football coach at the University of Washington. Scott Woodward and I have met over a series of days, and we have come to a decision that at the end of the 2008 football season, they are going to move in another direction with the head football coach of this university. It is my desire to complete and finish the football season and do that in the manner that I have done it, unwavering in my approach and commitment to our young men and to the goals that we have set for them. They should be championship players, championship students, championship persons and they should have fun in a manner that is reflective of the values of this program and the university community. I am hoping that this announcement will allow the Husky family to come together and eliminate all of the speculation and all of the negativity that has surrounded the program and unite so that this football team and these young men can do the things necessary to be successful both on and off the field. Thank you."
What is the benefit of making this announcement now?
Willingham: "I think one, it eliminates all of the speculation, hopefully the negativity. It allows our young men to not walk around wondering what will happen in the future. Even though there are still some questions of course with who the new coach will be. It allows our administration to go about doing their job."
Was this your decision?
Scott, if it wasn't his decision, Why was it yours?
Woodward: "It became quite obvious with the performance on the football field that it wasn't up to what we had talked about at the beginning of the season and previous to the season. It became more obvious as time went on in the season."
Is this fair to the coaches?
Willingham: "I won't get in to that. As you understand the game of football, you understand that it is about wins and losses."
What do you feel you like you could achieve for the rest of the season as opposed to stepping down now?
Willingham: "I think my leadership for our football team has been consistent and true from day one. I don't think its ever wavered. I think it's brought the right things to our football team. It is unfortunate that we hadn't crossed that threshold that I thought we would, but I think that my leadership has been consistent in all the areas that are needed for this football team."
Do the players know that this has happened?
Willingham: "Our team, unfortunately for them, we did not brief the team with this announcement or have a team meeting. So they will be finding out in many cases from information that you will provide for them, or other resources that we will try to use to communicate to them."
Scott, you said earlier that you didn't want to make a move until the end of the season. What benefit is this to do it right now?
Woodward "No, I made it clear that I did not want a change in coaches in the middle of the season. I didn't want the team to be orphaned and I wanted the leadership of Coach Willingham - because our fans need to know that we care about the student-athlete. I think it is in their best interest that Coach Willingham coach the rest of the season, that they continue to go to class and continue to do the right things off the field. Also to end the speculation about what's going to happen to Coach Willingham. Now we can focus on the next five games that we have in front of us."
Do you meet with the team Scott?
Woodward "No, I meet with them individually when I see them. I'm very present. I see the team at practice, in the training room, in the football offices like I do the coaches and the assistant coaches."
Tyrone, the ability to lead, the ability to coach. How is it different under this circumstance than before?
Willingham: "Well, honestly it's probably better today than it was a week ago. I think a lot of the uncertainty has been eliminated and I think our guys expect a certain standard from me and they are pretty well accustomed to that. But when there is so much doubt about what is going on it just kind of freezes of the minds and some of the bodies. Now we have eliminated some of that, and we should be able to hopefully move forward a little better.
Do you think they'll be surprised by this announcement Coach?
Willingham: "I won't dare speculate on what our players think. They've probably been reading the various comments so I would say probably nothing surprises them."
Did you even consider this? To decide this yourself?
Willingham: "It's just not in my make-up."
Do you want to be an NCAA head coach next season?
Willingham: "I will not rule out anything. I don't speculate on my own future. I'll wait and see what happens."
When did you two begin discussing this resolution?
Woodward "Coach Willingham and I began discussions last Sunday and we've had them all through the week."
Did that get finalized this morning then?
Why do you feel Coach Willingham should coach the rest of the season?
Woodward "Because I thought it would be in the best interest of the student-athlete to have Coach Willingham continue to lead. Like I said, we're concerned about the whole student-athlete, what they do off the field as well as in the classroom and I thought Coach Willingham is best suited to deal with the team, not only off the field but on the field for the next five games."
Why make the announcement public now without addressing the players first?
Willingham: "The timing was the thing. Unfortunately for us, the way our schedule falls we get with our young men on Tuesday and we had them last night. And obviously there was no decision finalized last night so you can't speak to things that are not there."
How do you continue to be a leader to this team when they know that you are not going to return?
Willingham: " I think I still determine who plays."
How about with your assistants? Is it going to be hard to have them focused on this and not their next jobs?
Willingham: "The first thing is, for human nature, it's hard for anyone. What these young men have been going through for a series of weeks is very difficult. You have to fight human nature. Our coaches have to be professionals and they have to understand their job, not just from the X's and O's standpoint but from the emotional standpoint, from the standpoint of our young man. And I think they will be pros."
Does the search for a new coach begin now?
Could a coach be named while this season goes on?
Woodward "I won't rule that out."
Scott, are there any contractual obligations in this?
Woodward "We will abide by the contractual obligations that are set forth."
Coach, for you personally, how do you continue leading this team?
Willingham: "I can't say it is easy. But I made a commitment to our young men. I made a commitment to this University to do things in the right manner and the right manner means that I will fulfill my obligation, my responsibilities to the university and the young men with 100 percent of myself. I have great respect for the game of football. I believe it demands a certain type of individual, certain type of man - a certain type of attitude. And I feel like I have always brought to the teams that I have coached and to the young men and the university. So tomorrow, today, should be no different."
So how do you recruit at this point?
Willingham: "Now that's a different beast. That's something that becomes very difficult because you are not their next coach. That one is tough."
Scott, will you take and active role in that?
Woodward "We haven't determined that yet. I think kids decide who they are going to play for first. In these circumstances I think that is going to be paramount. Who the next coach is going to be. And that's why we decided to do this so that we could a jump on this process."
What is the recruiting pitch now? What do the assistant coaches tell recruits?
Willingham: "Those are all things that will be worked out. The good news that I think from the standpoint that it probably opens some lines now of some guys that maybe were becoming a little closed. But now there's a fresh start at the University of Washington and now they will probably take another look at the University of Washington to see what happens."
Scott, you mentioned that last Sunday the discussion began and through the week as of yesterday there hadn't been any agreement. What was the nature of the disagreement and what was the result of the last 24 hours?
Woodward "Those will remain between Coach Willingham and I. We just came to this agreement. It's obvious we are here today and we're going to state what it is. The obvious is here."
Did you consult anyone else besides the coach?
Woodward "Certainly. I consulted the president of the university."
Have you given his assistants any notification of what their status is?
Woodward "No, I have not. Coach Willingham has. And again, we will abide by what the contract says and we will take care of the assistants, and we will do it in the right way."
Coach, what went wrong in your mind?
Willingham: "We didn't win football games. That's it."
What's important to you? What would you like them to say about your time here at Washington?
Willingham: "It's obvious we didn't win football games, but I do believe we have put the program in a position that it will be able to win football games. Recruiting the last couple of years has gotten better with each year. Hopefully, we are to the point now or we are to the point where I think you continue so that you get the kind of talent that you need to have successful football teams. And hopefully we have done all of the other things right surrounding the program so that there's a good strong program for someone to come in and be able to jump and do things well."
Does it seem kind of strange that the players are going to find out in the way that they are going to find out? Shouldn't you have had a team meeting?
Willingham: "You would like to that. But the timing did not work in the manner of when it was important for us to make that decision. And that timing is now. Our players will find out as best we can in communicating to them the proper things."
Did the players have any indication that you and Scott were having conversations over the past week?
Willingham: "No, I think I'm correct in saying that."