This one got ugly quickly. This was like one of the games this past season where we led at halftime only to get bombed in the fourth quarter.
From the get go there was way too much information leaking out of LA on this one. Most of these deals are done in private with respect to all parties, but every move Washington made was leaked to the media. For instance how many times do you ever hear of a University President being involved in the hiring of an assistant football coach? How many times do you hear the details of the contract in advance? How many times do you hear that other UW coaches will be let go to make way for a new set of defensive coaches prior to it being finalized?
Something was rotten in Denmark, and that something was a disgraced head coach getting a second chance at his alma mater who also wanted to give his ex employer a lesson in high stakes poker. It became pretty apparent early this week that Walker and Neuheisel were setting the University of Washington, and Ty Willingham up for a black eye. It was also pretty apparent that the University of Washington was oblivious to this fact.
What Washington did was put everything on DeWayne Walker's table with no definitive timeline to accept. This gave him the opportunity to renegotiate with UCLA, and also put his name into the national spotlight as an assistant coach who will be in line for a head coaching job at a BCS school after next season.
Everything Walker asked for Washington agreed to. Fire Chris Tormey, and Randy Hart who have a combined 32 years in service to UW....no problem. Make Walker the highest paid assistant in the history of college football...no problem. Give Walker complete autonomy over the defensive side of the team...no problem.
There of course was a problem, Walker never had any intention of leaving Westwood.
So now Willingham has to walk into the office this morning to look Randy Hart, and Chris Tormey in the face. What exactly does he tell these two guys who have a history with the program that extends deep into the tenure of Don James? Is it just business as usual?
This one got messy, and it got messy the minute they tried to screw around with Rick Neuheisel. Make no mistake about it, this is only round one in a contest that is going to go on for years on the West Coast. Whenever Neuheisel gets the chance to stick it to Washington he is going to do it with relish.
So Washington enters the New Year without a Plan B because Michigan's Ron English took the first offer and is now off to Louisville. That would be the Ron English who led Michigan's defense in Lloyd Carr's finale to a victory over Florida. Who ever said Michigan couldn't slow down the spread?
Which way can Willingham turn now? Ty needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat, and quickly because he just may have to rebuild his entire coaching staff because of this fiasco. Do Tormey, and Hart stick around if another program decides to give them an offer? Probably not after all this. Willingham may now be in the position where he has to hire five new assistant coaches before spring. That is not an easy thing for a lame duck coach to do.
Washington could have avoided all this.
First of all they could have fired Willingham and brought in a new coach. Second of all since they didn't fire Willingham they could have dictated terms and time lines to Walker rather than let him do that to them. It is all about poker, and Washington simply didn't have a good hand going into this one. Damage control starts once again in Montlake today, it will be very interesting to see how this one plays out.