The buck stops … where?

I know I’ve already gone after him once today, but I just can’t help it. Via Matt Hayes of the Sporting News, here’s an account of what’s been going on at the University of Washington as the Huskies have lost five straight games following their 2-0 start:

For the past two weeks, Ty Willingham and his staff have been — and it pains me to even write this — blaming players for the team’s shortcomings.

This a 2-6 team whose two wins are against a horrible Syracuse team and Boise State — before new quarterback Taylor Tharp got comfortable.

Washington has given up 1,719 yards and 147 points in the last three games, and these are some of Ty’s remarks:

After a loss to Oregon, Ty said the Huskies “need more bullets” in their gun to compete. Of Southern Cal — which isn’t part of the last three losses — Ty told the Seattle Times, “How many of our starters, when we lined up against USC that night, would’ve started for them?”

Later, Ty had to “clarify” his comments, and came up with this jewel: “We need to put (players) in the best position possible, that’s the job of a coach. And at the same time, your players have to make the plays. It’s always a combination, it’s never just one.”

So this is what respected Washington president Mark Emmert — a UW alum who loves football and has been through the meat grinder as chancellor at LSU — is paying millions for? Let me explain something here; it’s a very simple process:

1. Staff recruits players.
2. Staff coaches players.
3. Players perform how they are coached.

That’s it, people. If Washington is struggling, it’s coaching. Willingham has three recruiting seasons under him — more than enough time to start a turnaround or at least become a respectable team that can beat the Arizonas of the world.

If it weren’t for [Jake] Locker, this team would be winless. Instead, the staff is spineless.

If this team is lacking “bullets” as Ty says, it’s his fault. It’s like the classic Seinfeld episode where George rebuffs a date because she’s bald. Elaine so eloquently says — hands coned around her mouth — “You’re bald!”

So Ty’s players aren’t good enough?

You’re the guy recruiting them!

Somewhere, wacko Notre Dame fans have to be smiling.

“Smiling” isn’t quite right, since I do actually feel for all the members of the Husky faithful who’ve been taken in by this loser, and who’ll have to wait at least another half-decade to undo the harm he’s doing to their program. But yeah, that pretty much hits things on the nose. (The Seinfeld reference is especially well-placed; one imagines a disgruntled UW alum tossing Willingham’s headset out of an apartment window, and Ty leaning halfway out as it falls to the street.)

It’s worth comparing Willingham’s explanation of his team’s suckitude with the Charlie Weis’s answer to a reporter who asked him about the factors that led to Notre Dame’s 1-7 start (I quoted this earlier in the week):

Well, first of all, let’s start with coaching, because what you just did in your question is gave me about 15 different excuses for us being 1 and 7, so why don’t we just start with 1 probably, with the transition that we’ve had from last year to this year, have not done the best job of having the team ready to go on a week in and week out basis, and we probably should leave it at that one because if you are looking for me to give you a whole dossier of problems that have happened this year, there would be too many things. If you want good fodder, let’s just throw me out there, okay. … I think that if you start with the head coach doing a better job, then you’d probably have a better record.

And there you have it, folks. Weis is willing to recognize what Willingham is not: that excuses don’t count for anything when you put a poor product on the field.

To be more precise, the real point is this: OF COURSE the circumstances in which both Weis and Willingham have found themselves this season have been less than conducive to winning. But that doesn’t change the fact that those circumstances are in part their own responsibility, nor does it make it okay for them to shift the blame to their PLAYERS, of all people. When you’re a third-year head coach, explanations of your team’s failures start and end with you.

Hayes deserves some serious kudos for calling Willingham out for this bullcrap. I’ll be dollars to donuts we don’t see Pat Forde or Jon Chait doing the same thing any time soon …

(HT: stonebreaker22.)

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