Willingham on Weis: ‘Maybe ND Got It Right'

Former Irish coach lobbies for more time for leaders

As bad as Charlie Weis' tenure at Notre Dame has been, there has been one historical vindication associated with it: It hasn't been nearly as bad as Tyrone Willingham's short stint at Washington. In the four years since Willingham's firing from Notre Dame, he has led UW to an abysmal 11-36 record (eesh) and no bowl games. It's been an utter disaster.

Of course, Notre Dame fans would say the same about Weis' tenure, but at the very least, those that supported the Willingham termination can feel a little bit better about their decision. Sure, it's bad now. But imagine how much worse it could have been.

Still, in considering both coaches' failures, and futures, it's important to keep in mind how little time is usually given to college coaches. It takes time to build a program, or at least it should -- we are invariably wary of people who can turn programs around in one or two years -- and most coaches, provided they're not as bad as, say, Tyrone Willingham, should get a fourth or fifth year to prove themselves.

And wouldn't you know it? Ty agrees:

"It's not just my issue, it's a college football issue — we have to give coaches a chance to do their job," Willingham said Thursday from Seattle, where he recently was fired as the University of Washington's coach after four seasons, the last of them winless.

"Because now we have coaches … especially some of the minority coaches … they are losing their jobs after 21/2 years. That's not right." 

I'm not sure the issue is especially related to minority coaches; unfortunately, there aren't enough minority coaches to even be victimized by this sort of thing. (There aren't minority coaches, period, one of the great continuing shames of the college football hiring infrastructure.) But in a general sense, Willingham is right. Coaches do deserve more time, and the expectations that lead to firing coaches after two or three years also lead to coaches desire for a quick, often illegal, fix. In college sports, nothing should come that quickly.

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