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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

December 18, 2008 at 1:57 PM

Comparing hiring times

One of the many criticisms of the Tyrone Willingham era was that it took him a while to get going as coach of the Huskies.
The perception of Steve Sarkisian has been much different so far, as he has seemed to hit the ground running, both in terms of hiring a staff and getting out on the road recruiting.
But I always try to let the facts speak loudest so I thought I would look back and see when Willingham actually hired his staff and compare it to what Sarkisian has done so far.
One thing worth noting is that Sarkisian had about a week head start on Willingham. Sarkisian was officially hired on Dec. 8, 2008 — Willingham on Dec. 13, 2004. Both were Mondays.
Sarkisian announced the first three hires to his staff on Tuesday, Dec. 16, though all of them had apparently started work officially the day before.
Willingham didn’t announce his first hires until Jan. 3, when he officially brought on board Mike Denbrock, Kent Baer, Randy Hart, Chris Tormey and Steven Wilks. While it was common in the Willingham era for things to actually happen long before they were announced, only Hart and Tormey of that group likely did much work before the official announcement of their hire.
Wilks, Denbrock and Baer all were part of his Notre Dame staff and continued to coach the Irish through their bowl game, played that year on Dec. 28. Hart and Tormey were retained almost immediately and worked through that period. But at best, UW had just three coaches on board through December in 2004 compared to four already on staff.
Willingham didn’t officially hire any other coaches until Feb. 4, or a couple of days after LOI signing day, when he named Tim Lappano offensive coordinator and also hired RB coach Trent Miles and WR coach Eric Yarber.
While Miles was with Willingham at ND, he explained at the time he didn’t want to hire an RB coach until he knew who the OC would be. I remember clearly that Lappano wasn’t really on board until just a few days before he was announced. I don’t think Yarber, who came from having been let go by the 49ers as did Lappano, was on board much before he was announced, either.
So I think it’s pretty accurate that UW had just six coaches working during the month of January in putting together the Class of 2005, which ended up not yielding a whole lot.
Interestingly, in looking at some old stories for this entry, I’d forgotten that among those Willingham supposedly interviewed about becoming UW’s OC before hiring Lappano was none other than Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian had spent the 2004 season with the Oakland Raiders and was looking to get back in the college game, eventually getting rehired at USC. Sarkisian’s rehiring at USC was announced that year on Feb. 11, 2005.
Willingham made the last hire to his staff on Feb. 21 when he brought in Bob Simmons, who had been with him at Notre Dame, as tight ends and special teams coach.
Sarkisian, meanwhile, said he may make another few hires in the next week or so. But he also said he may not have a full staff put together for a while, saying he wants to make sure he gets the best staff and not rush it. The annual coaches convention — when a lot of hires are made — is the first week of January, so it would be little surprise if the staff isn’t completed until then. After this weekend, there is no recruiting contact allowed until the first week of January, and no trips until the weekend of Jan. 10.
Still, Sarkisian already seems to be making an earlier impact on recruiting than Willingham did, having apparently worked to firm up a few commitments (such as Keith Price’s) and getting a new one from Josh Moten, giving the Huskies eight, assuming they all stay in the fold.
UW only had one commit when Willingham was hired — Ryan Perkins. Willingham’s first commitment came on Dec. 30, from QB Johnny DuRocher, who was transferring from Oregon and had long been thought headed to UW. His first commit from a high school player came on Jan. 10, from Chris Stevens.

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