With Ty Willingham stepping down earlier this week the obvious thing to do is to ask why. Willingham's problems started early at UW, like when it was announced he would be the next head coach and with some of the moves he made in regards to dealing with the fans and how he sheltered the players it was pretty much determined that he wouldn't be a good fit right out the blocks.
Then of course there was his recruiting, he never seemed to bag the big game prize(s). That included USC FS Taylor Mays...
Mays, a graduate of O'Dea High School, is the son of former UW defensive lineman Stafford Mays and grew up attending games at Husky Stadium. He once said he went to just about every game from ages 5 through 12.
He was a senior at O'Dea in fall 2005, when Willingham was in the initial steps of attempting to get his program off the ground. Washington fans that fall dreamed of a power trio of in-state recruits who could revive the glory days — quarterback Jake Locker of Ferndale, offensive lineman Stephen Schilling of Bellevue, and Mays.
When Locker committed first of the three, in late July, the dream seemed alive. But three weeks later, Mays committed to USC.
Schilling later signed with Michigan (where he is now a starting right tackle) and the dream Class of 2006 instead turned into one that observers now pinpoint as a key reason for Willingham's failure at UW — only nine players from that class are on Washington's two-deep regularly, five as starters.
Mays, meanwhile, has already been named an All-American once as a free safety — a position UW has struggled to fill throughout Willingham's tenure — and could be on the way to similar honors again this season, headlining a USC defense that Trojans coach Pete Carroll says might be the best he has ever had.
Sure, Ty nabbed Jake Locker but in missing out on Mays and Schilling it made it difficult for Willingham to really solidify his place as a big time recruiter in Washington.
We have all marveled at Pete Carroll's ability to go out and nab a big time recruit from out of state but Carroll's bread and butter is grabbing as much talent as he can in the state of California. That has been the key to his success get as much as you can that is easily within your reach and supplement it with talent that no one thinks you can get.
If Willingham had bagged the big three it would have changed the perception of the program and it could have led to more big names coming to UW. Don't get me wrong I am glad that Ty didn't bag Mays, but just imagine for a minute if he did...
With the Pac-10 reeling this season with a number of poor performances, teams like UW, WSU and ucla need to step it up in order get the Pac-10 back to a level of respectability. We are starting to see that with hiring of Neuheisel and the UW AD looking to make a real dynamic hire. WSU is in a different boat due to losing scholarships because of academics so its going to take them a bit longer. But if UW could pull a Kiffin, or Pinkel or even a Peterson...coaches who have a proven track record on the recruitng trail it gives the UW a lot of energy going forward.
This ups the ante on Carroll and the other coaches in the Pac-10 but if the Pac-10 is going to get back to some semblance of respectability the programs that are lagging need to step it up and make it compettive again.