I haven't had that much time to write this week since we have been in Hawaii, but maybe it was a good thing because it gave me a lot of time to think about what was going on back in Seattle after the game.
I think most of us expected to have a new coach this week after the loss in Hawaii. The momentum for Willingham's ouster had grown to a fever pitch on talk radio, and on the message boards. Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times was even calling for Ty's head. All the rumors we heard seemed to point in that direction after the game.
A couple things changed that. First of all Ty is bringing in the type of in state recruiting class he was supposed to bring in this year. He has put that proverbial fence around the state during a crucial recruiting year. Second of all even though his win/loss record has been terrible his kids didn't give up a single time this year, they also kept their noses relatively clean. In other words there was little if any dissension in the ranks at Montlake despite the tough times.
Make no mistake about it, the commitments of Kearse, and Middleton were two of the most important votes of confidence involved in bringing him back for another year. I can say with certainty that if those two recruits had decided to go to Oregon we would be searching for a new Husky head coach this morning.
While Washington is in the process of cleaning up in state this year they haven't exactly been lighting it up in California. Craig Noble is the lone difference maker on paper recruited this year from the Golden State. Willingham needs to do a much better job down there, and it seems to me he went to Plan B very early this season while banking on the chances of landing an excellent in state class. Of course it is still early, we have no idea how any single player will pan out over the next four years, but UW is taking way too many two star kids this year.
When Mark Emmert got back on Sunday he polled the decision makers and there were still enough people in Ty's camp, or at least on the fence who felt he deserved at least one more year to get the ship headed in the right direction. Politically it was the right decision to make. UW will save a boatload of money, and even though Emmert says it didn't figure into the decision it was a factor. An even bigger factor would have been the national backlash that would have been generated. Even though none of us are satisfied with the current state of the team any sane person knows that it was going to take longer than three years to put it all back together. Finally there is the continuity thing, and I have to agree it is a big factor. You can't change coaches every three years and expect to get anywhere.
The ball now is completely in Ty Willingham's court. The edict is to win now, or there isn't going to be a fifth year. There will be no talks of contract extensions, but there will scapegoats, and dismissals on the defensive side of the coaching staff. Ty has one year to get it right if he wants to keep coaching at Washington. The decisions he makes as far as his coaching staff over the next few weeks will be crucial.
I have mixed emotions about the decision. I was ready for Jim Mora Jr, or Jeff Tedford to come here and work some miracles. I don't care about the politics, I care about the performance on the field, and it was obvious that our coaching staff was getting out coached every week. We had a legitimate chance to win every single game this season. We were ahead at halftime during eight games, and we only came up with four wins. I think we can do a lot better than that even in a rebuilding year playing the nations toughest schedule. In my opinion the coaching staff underperformed on game day this year.
I said a couple of weeks ago that I could live with another year of Ty if it comes to that. I still feel that way even though I was in favor of a change. There are however quite a few people who have said they are going to put their money where their mouth is. They are going to stop donating, buying tickets, and going to games. I can't do that, win or lose they are still my Huskies. I grew up with this program, and while I have been disappointed with the performance for quite some time I can't imagine doing anything else on a Saturday afternoon.