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Washington informally contacted Willingham

Heather VanHoegarden | Thursday, December 2, 2004

Former Irish football coach Tyrone Willingham, fired by the University Tuesday, said Wednesday he has had informal contact with the University of Washington regarding that school’s vacant head coaching position.When asked what his future plans were, Willingham said that he was planning think about things. “I will take a step back,” Willingham said. “I will relax for a moment. I do not know how long that moment will be, but a moment could be a moment or it could be a week. Then I will reflect on what I need to do, and I will make that decision.”The Washington position opened up after Keith Gilbertson resigned under pressure in early November after two years as Huskies’ head coach. Washington finished this season 1-10 and 0-8 in the Pac-10 Conference, including a 38-3 loss at Notre Dame. Gilbertson was 7-13 in his two years as Washington’s head coach. It was Washington’s first losing season since 1976.Willingham addressed reports that he was interested in the job Wednesday.”Of course, today there is much speculation, I think, what is already taking place, and I was somewhat surprised by what I saw,” Willingham said. “Two weeks ago I was contacted by the University of Washington. There was unofficial contact with the University of Washington. [In] any contact with anyone, my position would have been very simply straightforward – ‘I am the Notre Dame football coach. I came to do this job and only this job.'”Washington athletic director Todd Turner said after the announcement of Gilbertson’s resignation the school was committed to finding the right coach for the Husky program.”Budget aside, I think it’s most important that we have the right person in place and our leadership is committed to that and we’ll figure it out,” Turner said in a Nov. 1 press conference.Should Willingham be offered a job at Washington and accept, he would face the Irish in Notre Dame’s fourth game of the season, Sept. 24 at Washington.