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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

January 31, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Willingham on Donatell

UW football coach Tyrone Willingham confirmed the hiring of Ed Donatell as Washington’s new defensive coordinator in a teleconference held this morning.
Willingham said the 50-year-old Donatell signed a two-year contract.
“I couldn’t have been more excited about the hire, and on top of that, he does have what I would call a Husky background and a love and an affection for the place you will see in the way he carries himself and communicates with our young men,” Willingham said, referring to Donatell’s two-year stint as a GA under Don James in 1981-82.
Willingham said it is too early to tell what the team’s defensive scheme will be next season, saying that one of the things that attracted him to Donatell was his flexibility and knowledge of many different defenses.
“I think you will see some things (different),” Willingham said. “But the biggest thing is we are going to work right now to take a really exhaustive look at who we are and what we are and make sure (we are) giving the kids the opportunity to express the quality of players they are.”
Donatell’s first official day at work is tomorrow. But Willingham said Donatell has already begun the task of looking at the Huskies “with an unbiased eye.” He said he wants Donatell to initally look at the team and the personnel on his own, without any input from other coaches, to form some of his own opinions on where the team needs to go now.
“He will build that unbiased opinion and then put that together with the rest of the staff,” Willingham said.
Willingham confirmed that he did first offer the job to UCLA’s DeWayne Walker, and also said he talked to “a lot” of other candidates before settling on Donatell.
Donatell takes over a UW defense that ranked last in the Pac-10 and gave up a school-record 446.4 yards per game. He replaces Kent Baer, who was fired last month.
Willingham said it is likely the rest of the defensive staff will remain intact. UW still has two open positions on its staff, for a running backs coach and a special teams/tight ends coach and while Willingham said it was possible the staff could still be adjusted, he indicated it’s more likely he will simply hire a new RB coach and a new TE/ST coach.
Donatell has worked for James, Keith Gilbertson (at Idaho from 1986-88) and Jim Mora (with the Falcons), all of whom have significant Husky backgrounds. Willingham said he did not speak with any of those three before hiring Donatell but did get sterling recommendations from others he knows in the coaching profession.
Donatell has worked exclusively in the NFL since 1990, and Willingham admitted that the pro league does not have quite the variance in schemes as the college game. But he said again that he thinks Donatell’s array of experiences will give him the flexibililty to adjust what he does.
Willingham said Donatell will be able “to make that adjustment, I think, very quickly. And on top of that, he is very recognized as an outstanding coach around the country and he will be able to call on those friends of his for their knowledge.”
Donatell is expected to talk with reporters later.
Willingham hadn’t met with the media since before the firing of Baer, but said he wouldn’t discuss that move saying it was time to move forward “at warp speed.”
He also didn’t want to discuss the resignation of athletic director Todd Turner other than to say that he has “the ultimate respect” for Turner, and still does. He said his relationship with acting AD Scott Woodward “is not a topic to be discussed right now” while adding that “Scott and I are doing very well” and that he is “very pleased” that Woodward is in place.



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