All I ever wanted was a Ty for Christmas
This Husky fan's wish came true
By Malamute, Posted, 30 December 2004
Photo courtesy of maxwaugh.com
The Husky nation has fallen into singularity, where the
laws of physics and the space/time continuum cease to exist. It’s up to Mighty
Might, Tyrone Willingham, to rescue Husky football and bring it back to
Einstein’s universe, where Energy equals Mass times the Speed of Light squared.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to know that the Husky team
needs more Mass, that the Husky team needs more Speed, and that the Husky nation
needs more Energy.
More energy is packed into Willingham than a gamma ray
burst, and he is willing to share it with his players and fans. His father, who
was in his 80’s at the time, reportedly tore a house down with his bare hands.
L.P. Willingham Parkway in
Jacksonville, N.C., was named in honor of Willingham's mother, Lillian, for
being an inspiration to the city. A fulltime teacher, she taught school for 38
years and was the first African-American on Jacksonville's board of education.
His hard-working parents as role models, the young
Willingham rode five miles back and forth on his bike everyday under the hot
summer sun to attend football practice -- something to tell his grandchildren
about. "And, children, after I was hit by a car on the way to practice one day,
I returned to the field a few days later with bumps and bruises," he will tell
Although they acknowledge his work ethic, his detractors
have plenty to say.
For starters, they say that Willingham doesn’t know his X’s
Stop the presses.
Are they telling us that a guy who has coached football for
18 years, as an assistant and head coach combined, doesn’t have any X-and-O
neurons meshed in his gray matter?
Dennis Green, former Stanford and Minnesota Vikings head
coach, thinks he does. He says, “I think Tyrone showed me early on that he
really understood the game of football.” Willingham worked for Green at Stanford
and at Minnesota as an assistant coach.
His detractors say he is a mediocre coach, one who has
averaged 6.5 wins per season during his 10 years as a head coach.
Hiring mediocrity is easy to say, considering the current
state of Husky football, a milieu in which almost any new coach would seem
doomed to failure.
What a “mediocre” résumé Willingham has: twice named Pac-10
coach of the year (1995, 1999); first coach in Notre Dame history to win 10
games in his initial campaign; the 2002 ESPN/Home Depot College Coach of the
Year, the Scripps College Coach of the Year, and the Sporting News Sportsman of
the Year; and six bowls games in 10 seasons.
How do I explain the fact he was fired from his last job?
That’s easy. Notre Dame wanted Urban Meyer for its coach and now, sub-rosa, is
sorry for its impetuousness.
They say Willingham isn’t loquacious.
Well, he won’t give you a lengthy, lawyerly speech that
says absolutely nothing.
Instead, he’ll give you a Power-point presentation and
stick to the bullets, where the last slide says “WIN.”
The UW doesn’t need a coach who talks a good game; it needs
a coach who will win some games.
Willingham, the best dressed guy in the room, always exudes
optimism, wearing his 1999 Stanford Rose Bowl ring proudly. He says, “I’ve had
bad moments, but not bad days.”
Always in shape and well prepared, Willingham, at times,
roller-bladed across the vast Stanford campus. Before his team played the
Huskies in Seattle, he always knew Saturday’s up-to-the-minute weather forecast.
This Christmas my forecast for the Dawgs is sunny and
Willingham minds his P’s and Q’s, as well as his X’s and
O’s, and will restore law and order to Washington’s athletic program, who some
say lacks institutional control.
Washington’s critics must now find new shticks. Metaphors
connoting dishonesty, disingenuousness and lack of integrity won’t play at
Montlake anymore. A virtuous Willingham has wiped the poison clean from Laertes’
AD Todd Turner has hired a coach who believes in God and
family. He believes in the eleventh commandment of the new Husky bible, which
involves telling the truth.
Willingham will not bear false witness against his neighbor
nor will he lie to his superiors.
The new Husky model involves graduating its student
athletes, as well as repairing Washington’s image.
Notre Dame has given Washington a Ty for Christmas, and it
doesn’t have any spots on it.
At least two books have been written about Tyrone
Willingham's storied career: “The meaning of victory” and “Return to Glory.”
I have an idea that after a rapid turnabout in Husky
football, some physics professor will think he’s discovered a new physical law,
and publish a paper about it.
He’ll entitle it, “Energy equals Mass times the Speed of Ty
This article previously was published on dawgman.com.
Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at