TUCSON, ARIZ. – A woman in a purple shirt serenaded Washington coach Tyrone Willingham as he left the field at Arizona Stadium on Saturday night.
“So long, farewell … ” she sang, approximating the tune of a song from “The Sounds of Music.”
But just moments later, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said that his football coach will not be leaving the program anytime soon, despite the Huskies’ 48-14 loss to Arizona.
“I told you last weekend that I was less satisfied than I was the week before, and I’m even less happy today,” Woodward said. “But we have seven games to play, and we’re going to play those seven games. And, no, there’s not going to be a change this week. Like I said, (I will) look at the whole body of work of this season and assess it at the end of the season.”
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The loss dropped Washington to 0-5, leaving the Huskies and North Texas as the only winless teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. It also was UW’s seventh straight loss, now the longest losing streak in the FBS.
Willingham said that his team can play better, but added that he believes his players are still giving full effort.
Woodward said he believes that, too.
“Coach Willingham’s coaching as hard as he can, and the kids are playing hard,” he said. “I didn’t see quit in these guys. They didn’t play well, but I didn’t see quit. I didn’t see bad dissention. But it’s not good. I don’t want to sugar coat it, but it’s not good.”
Woodward said an in-season firing would be bad for the university’s image and also bad for the players, who he believes have enough going on as students and athletes without having to deal with losing one coach and adapting to a new one.
“You don’t want to have your team orphaned -- it’s a bad situation,” Woodward said. “I don’t think it’s a great philosophy to make a firing in the middle of a season. I just don’t believe in it. … We have class in this program and integrity.”
The Huskies are off next weekend and return to action Oct. 18 when Oregon State visits Husky Stadium.That game will mark the season’s mid-point, and Willingham said that with seven games left, it isn’t time to give up on goals such as a winning record or a bowl bid.
Each player interviewed after the game said he stands behind Willingham and believes the team is still listening to him and working to get better.
“Coach Ty Willingham or not, I’m trying to win, you know what I’m saying,” sophomore Mason Foster said. “The coach hot seat or anything they’re talking about, I’m just trying to win for the University of Washington, for us. We’ve got to take pride in what we do. We can’t look at it like it’s on Coach Willingham. It’s on us. We’re the ones out there on the field.”