Oct. 27, 2008
SEATTLE (AP) - Tyrone Willingham was terminated Monday as Washington's coach after failing to restore the Huskies to national prominence.
Two days after Washington fell to 0-7, athletic director Scott Woodward said Willingham will step down at the end of the season. When asked Monday if this was his decision, Willingham said flatly, "no."
Willingham, appearing at his weekly news conference, added he never considered resigning.
"No, it's just not in my makeup," he said.
The decision comes after Saturday's embarrassing 33-7 loss to Notre Dame on national television and after eight days of discussions with Woodward, who has said he did not want to change coaches during the season. Willingham coached Notre Dame for three seasons until being fired in 2004.
"We didn't win enough football games. That's it," Willingham said. "Hopefully, we've done all the other things right, (and) it's a good strong program for someone to jump into and do things."
Willingham, who's out with a year left on his contract, will receive a $1 million buyout, Woodward said.
Word was slow to leak to the team, which hosts No. 7 USC on Saturday.
Quarterback Ronnie Fouch said Willingham pulled him aside just minutes before the announcement.
"It's tough. He's the reason I came here," Fouch said. "It's going to be tough to see him gone after this year."
Willingham has been under fire for not turning around the Washington program. He is 11-32 overall in his four seasons, losing at least six consecutive games in each of those seasons. Washington currently has a nine-game losing streak.
When he arrived at Washington, Willingham was charged with restoring the integrity of the program after a messy divorce with former coach Rick Neuheisel and two lost seasons with Keith Gilbertson.
Willingham brought stability and order to the program but that didn't add up to wins.
"It became quite obvious with the performance on the football field it wasn't up to what we talked about at the beginning of the season and previous to the season," Woodward said. "It became more obvious as time went on this season."
Willingham never won more than five games in his first three seasons. The Huskies seemed on their way to a bowl game in 2006 at 4-1, then lost six consecutive games. Last year, Washington started 2-0, then dropped six straight in a series of painstaking second-half collapses.
With a team full of freshmen and sophomores and quarterback Jake Locker's broken thumb, this season is on pace to be one of the worst in school history.
Still, Willingham didn't dismiss the idea of coaching next season.
"I will not rule out anything," he said.