Tyrone Willingham, who last month was fired abruptly by Notre Dame three years into his five-year contract, is expected to return to the Pac-10 as the
new coach at Washington.
The Seattle Times, citing an anonymous source, reported Sunday that Willingham's hiring will be announced early this week. He would be Washington's
third coach in four years.
Asked about the hiring of Willingham, Washington athletic director Todd Turner only would tell the Times, "I can't confirm that."
Willingham, who coached Stanford to the Rose Bowl in 1999, will replace Keith Gilbertson. Terms of Willingham's contract were not available.
Boston College coach Tom O'Brien also was in the running for the job but withdrew his candidacy late Friday after Washington did not make him an offer
within 48 hours of his interview.
Willingham, 50, would be Washington's first black head football coach. With Lorenzo Romar, in his second year as coach of the Huskies men's basketball
team, Washington would become the only Division I-A university to have both men's major sports headed by black coaches, according to the Times.
Willingham was the first black head coach in any sport at Notre Dame and his dismissal -- it left only two black head coaches at the Division I-A
level -- was criticized across college football. Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association, said Willingham's firing made it
seem that black coaches are held to a higher standard than their white counterparts. And some black Notre Dame alumni said the firing will hamper the
school's efforts to recruit and retain black students and teachers.
Willingham is 65-51-1 overall in 10 seasons as coach at Stanford and Notre Dame. He assumes control of a program that went a school-worst 1-10 overall
(winless in the Pac-10). The program continues to be overshadowed by the dismissal of Rick Neuheisel. The former coach is suing the university for
wrongful termination; the trial begins next month.
Willingham blamed himself for his Nov. 30 firing at Notre Dame, saying he failed to meet the school's expectations of producing an elite team. But
Willingham, whose three-year tenure was the shortest of any non-interim coach at the school in 70 years, wouldn't say whether he was given enough time
to turn the storied program back into a football power.