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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

October 31, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Tough business, this coaching: Tormey out at Wyoming . . .

This happened early in the week, but I didn’t get a chance to weigh in then: Chris Tormey, once a key assistant on University of Washington football staffs, was summarily fired as defensive coordinator at Wyoming — by head coach Dave Christensen, who played at the UW in the early ’80s and was a graduate assistant under Don James in 1988-89.

After an encouraging, 37-34 defeat to start the season at Nebraska, the Cowboys had been trending down, giving up 52 points to Colorado State and 51 to San Jose State in their past two games, causing Christensen to pull the plug on Tormey.

Tormey was once known as the guy who was key in recruiting star running back Napoleon Kaufman to Washington. Then he became defensive coordinator under Jim Lambright at the UW before a stint as Idaho head coach, in which he led the Vandals to a rare bowl game. But in the late 1990s, his career took some unfortunate turns.

You might recall he was a finalist for the UW head job after  athletic director Barbara Hedges fired Lambright following the 1998 season. But Hedges made a surprise hire in Rick Neuheisel and Tormey went back to Idaho. He moved on to become head coach at Nevada from 2000-03, but in a strange move there, athletic director Chris Ault canned Tormey and re-took the job himself, eventually winning renown as one of the creators of the “Pistol” formation.

It didn’t get a lot better for Tormey after that. He landed on Tyrone Willingham’s staff at Washington, and that failed regime was out after the 2008 season. He went to the Hawaii staff for two years and then was hired by WSU’s Paul Wulff for the 2011 season. That regime was cashiered that season, however, which led him to Wyoming and Christensen.

The Wyoming staff has all sorts of state connections: Pete Kaligis, former UW offensive line standout and strength coach, is co-offensive coordinator; ex-Western Washington coach Robin Ross is special-teams coordinator and linebackers coach; former WSU quarterback standout Jason Gesser is quarterbacks coach; and Trent Greener, strength coach at the UW under Willingham, has that title at Wyoming.

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