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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

July 10, 2007 at 11:29 AM

Interesting discourse on Willingham

In light of our discussion yesterday on Tyrone Willingham, thought I would pass along this from Jon Wilner’s blog at the San Jose Mercury News.
The post is in reponse to a list Wilner published recently of best Pac-10 coaches of the last 20 years. Wilner rated Willingham No. 6 due to his Stanford tenure, particulary a 17-7 conference record his last three seasons on The Farm.
That ranking, and Wilner’s reasoning for it, led to quite a few comments and Wilner decided to follow up with a post that sheds some light on how Willingham’s tenure at Stanford developed.
As you can also see, on Wilner’s original list he has Don James at No. 3 behind Pete Carroll and Mike Bellotti, writing that he would have had James at No. 2, behind only Carroll, if not for the NCAA violations.
I’d have Carroll No. 1, as well, if I were doing a similar list, but at the risk of sounding like a homer, I think I’d still place James at No. 2.
Even if you go with the premise that the end of James’ tenure is tainted by the NCAA violations (that’s probably a discussion best left for another day) I think his overall body of work at UW moves him ahead of Bellotti — most notably, breaking up USC’s domination of the league by taking UW to three Rose Bowls in a span of five seasons from 1977-1981.
Interesting fact I noticed while doing some quick research for this post — guess which coach during the time period of Wilner’s list has the third-best winning percentage in Pac-10 games?
How about Jim Lambright, whose 31-16-1 Pac-10 record, and .660 winning percentage, is 12th in conference history, but would be behind only Carroll and James of those who fit the time period for this list (John Robinson, who did most of his work at USC in the ’70s and early ’80s but also came back to USC in the ’90s, would rank ahead of both James and Lambright).
FYI — Rick Neuheisel, who was 23-9 in Pac-10 games while at UW, doesn’t qualify on the conference’s officiall all-time rankings since he coached fewer than five seasons.

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