Tyrone Willingham to Lead University of Washington Football Program

Tyrone Willingham to Lead University of Washington Football Program

Fired three years into his five-year contract as the head football coach of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish last month, Tyrone Willingham was named to lead the University of Washington’s football program less than a month later, marking his return to the PAC-10 conference. Willingham, who recently turned 51, served from 1995-2001 as the head football coach at Stanford, also in the Pac-10.

Willingham, whose dismissal prompted criticism among fans, sportswriters, Notre Dame alumni and even some some school officials, became the only first-year coach in Notre Dame history to win 10 games in his first season (see Black Issues, Dec. 16). He was recognized for his efforts when he was named the ESPN/Home Depot College Coach of the Year, the Scripps College Coach of the Year, the Black Coaches Association Male Coach of the Year and the George Munger Award College Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club. Willingham also made history when he became the first college football coach to earn The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year award in 2002.

“When we began our search, if you had told me that we would be at this point today; announcing a coach that had in 10 years taken his team to six bowl games, including a Rose Bowl, had been named Pac-10 Coach of the Year twice, had been named National Coach of the Year once, had been recognized by the Sporting News as the Sportsman of the Year, the first college football coach ever to achieve that award, a man who had graduated virtually all of his players, who had never had a slip up with the NCAA … then I would have been absolutely ecstatic,” said University of Washington athletic director Todd Turner during the Dec. 13 press conference.

Said Willingham: “I couldn’t be prouder at this moment to be head coach. What I would hope to do in my time here is to go back to all those great things and great accomplishments that this program has achieved. That will be my focus to get back to the toughness.”

Willingham’s annual base salary will be $425,000 with additional guaranteed media, marketing and representation rights and deferred compensation totaling $1,005,000. Willingham can earn up to an additional $600,000 in incentives. The term of his contract is five years. 

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