SEATTLE -- Tyrone Willingham will return despite
Washington's third consecutive losing season. Some of his staff
Willingham announced during a staff meeting Monday that
oft-criticized defensive coordinator Kent Baer, a 13-year assistant
of his dating to their days at Stanford and Notre Dame, will not
return in 2008. Neither will Bob Simmons, the special-teams and
tight ends coach and former head coach at Oklahoma State.
Washington's defense gave up 446.4 yards per game, easily the
worst in Huskies' history. The defense was largely responsible for
many of the team's meltdowns in the second half of games en route
to a 4-9 season.
"I consider Kent Baer and Bob Simmons excellent coaches and
consummate professionals," Willingham said in a statement released
later in the day by the school. "Making change such as this is
never easy, nor is it done without careful thought and
"I believe we are continuing to build this football program
into a national contender and I truly appreciate the contribution
Kent and Bob have made toward our progress both on and off the
With running backs coach Trent Miles already having left to take
the head job at Indiana State, Willingham will now begin an outside
search to fill three members of his staff following another
miserable year, which made Willingham the first Huskies coach to
finish three consecutive losing seasons.
Willingham lost his most ardent supporter last week when
athletic director Todd Turner, who months ago was talking about
possibly giving Willingham a new contract, was forced to resign
effective Jan. 31. When school president Dr. Mark Emmert decided
after days of delay earlier this month to bring Willingham back for
2008, he committed to just that fourth year of the coach's
Baer, 56, has been a defensive coordinator every year since
1983, when he began a three-year stint in that role at Utah State.
In 2002, his and Willingham's first season at Notre Dame, Baer, a
native of Logan, Utah, won the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's
Simmons, 59, just finished his third season at Washington after
following Willingham to Notre Dame from 2002-04. The native of East
Cleveland, Ohio, was 30-38 as Oklahoma State's head coach from
1995-2000. He was Big 12 coach of the year for the 1997 season for
leading the Cowboys to the Alamo Bowl.