Thursday, November 20, 2008

Willingham and W.

The Willingham regime is arguably the worst in Husky football history. The Bush regime is arguably the worst in American history. They are both coming to a close, but only one was fired.

I am not defending Willingham’s exit. But wasn’t Bush in a similar position?

Bush’s administration has been just as diabolically bad as many Tyee and Husky fans believe Willingham’s has been. Neither have many victories just dead-enders.

Most in the sports media bring up firing coach's all the time. And there have been impeachment movements towards Bush. But those don’t get the same results as the get-rid-of-the-coach chorus.

Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times wrote "put him out of his misery", Mitch Levi of KJR-AM said "he should have been fired last year.” Husky Honk’s host Dave Softy Maller called for Willingham to quit or for the new athletic director Scott Woodward to fire him. 

Many commentators have called to impeach Bush for different reasons. Lying us into Iraq, the tragedy of Katrina, illegal wiretapping and even the tomato salmonella outbreak are a few of them.

The fire Ty voices got what they wanted. Still Bush will fulfill his second term and leave without punishment. Maybe something will happen after he leaves, but it lacks the symbolism of an on-the-job exit.

Sports media is a sharper more effective critical tool. It is not uncommon for results to come from the pressure of prominent sports writers and sports media figures.

Just recently the Cleveland Browns benched a good QB in Derek Anderson in favor of backup Brady Quinn mostly due to the pressure from fans and sports talk radio.

The public sets the tone for what reporters cover. We show what we want by what we consume. And we can’t get enough football.

We want more sport and we want more sports talk. We want influence and we want blood. We want a winner and we want it to happen quicker than ever before.

Day of the BYU game I noticed big white letters in the University Village parking lot on the back of a Jeep Grand Cherokee it said "Fire Ty Save Washington Football."

Obviously sports is not as important as the presidency, but that is why I think it is peculiar that sports media has sharper criticism.  It should be more urgent to get rid of a leader with power like the president, not the coach.

Tyrone Willingham does not have the same power over our lives as George Bush.  Ty can sign off on bump and run--not shock and awe. 

The president makes life and death decisions. A troubling reality that takes the fun out of being an armchair general. 

Sports allow us to live within a structure and have what seems like reasonable expectations.  When things don't go as planned we have a clear path of blame.

I almost crashed into coach Willingham a few weeks ago. I was turning left too fast and I swerved to the right of his oncoming Benz. He smiled at me and raised an eyebrow.

It was about 11 a.m. on a Monday morning and I knew he was probably driving to his weekly press conference. I turned on the radio and the news came down. He would be leaving, but not before coaching the last five games of the season.

I immediately texted the most passionate Husky fan I know. “Willingham just got fired.” He wrote back, “Finally Losingham is gone.”

As I watched the ASU game, I told this same Husky fan about the premise I am grappling with in this article. How Bush should have gone the way of the losing college football coach.

He nodded in agreement and said something ominous. “People are more passionate about their sports teams than who runs the country.”

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