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Originally published Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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UW to get close look at Jeff Tedford

Tyrone Willingham will coach his final football game for Washington at California on Saturday, against a coach on the other sideline who has been mentioned as a potential successor.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Washington @ California, Noon, FSN

Tyrone Willingham will coach his final football game for Washington at California on Saturday, against a coach on the other sideline who has been mentioned as a potential successor.

But Jeff Tedford, in a conference call with Seattle-area reporters to preview the game, said he had not been contacted by UW and indications are that he won't be a candidate.

And instead of worrying about any coaching rumors, Tedford said he was more concerned with the Huskies. While most figure UW has little shot in Saturday's noon game at Berkeley — the Huskies are 33 ½-point underdogs — Tedford thinks otherwise. And while it might sound like typical coach speak, Tedford can be excused because the last time he saw UW, the Huskies were beating his team 37-23. That win, on Nov. 17, 2007, is the last time the Huskies won a game — UW has lost 13 straight since.

"They put it to us pretty good," Tedford said of a game in which the Huskies rushed for 360 yards, 224 by Louis Rankin. "In our six years [at Cal] at that time, we'd never been pounded like that."

Not that the Huskies will necessarily be able to replicate that day. Asked how the Huskies pulled it off a year ago, Willingham referenced the good play of quarterback Jake Locker, who actually sat out the game with a neck injury suffered the week before against Oregon State. In fact, it was Carl Bonnell who led UW that day in what was a stripped-down offensive attack designed to go right at a banged-up Cal defensive line.

The Bears were in something of a free-fall, losing six of their last seven regular-season games. But the Bears, 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the Pac-10 this season, will be motivated to improve their bowl positioning. They can clinch the No. 4 Pac-10 slot with a victory, though Tedford said he hasn't talked to his team about its bowl chances.

The Huskies' motivation, meanwhile, will be to avoid the first 0-12 season in Pac-10 history while trying to send Willingham out on a high note.

Willingham said "there will be no real sentimental conversations" with his team this week over his pending departure.

But UW cornerback Quinton Richardson, the only player to show up at Monday's news luncheon, said it'll be a "weird" week knowing that Willingham is on the way out and a new coach on the way in at some point.

Richardson said speculation over a new coach "is killing us" but that "we try not to focus on it too much. We have to just worry about this game and get it out of the way and in time we'll know."

Utah trying to keep Whittingham

Sources indicate that Utah's Kyle Whittingham is among the favored candidates to replace Willingham.

But he might be hard to pry away from Salt Lake City. Utah athletic director Chris Hill told The Salt Lake Tribune in a story for today's paper that he has met with Whittingham about a possible contract extension.

"I let Kyle know that obviously we're happy with things and we want to extend his contract into the future. It's the right way to proceed," Hill said.

According to the paper, Hill stopped short of saying actual contract negotiations were under way and refused to put a timeline on when he wants the negotiations to be finalized. The Tribune reported that Hill also declined to discuss Whittingham's future at Utah or the possibility other schools could be after him.

"I've told him I'm not going to discuss things further in the media until things are said and done," Hill said.

The paper said Whittingham also refused to comment on the rumors regarding Washington. However, according to The Tribune, he did acknowledge that he has had discussions with Hill and called Utah a "good place to be."

Utah has won 13 consecutive games dating to last season and is 12-0 and rated No. 6 in the country.

Kelly contacted by UW

Another coach linked with the UW job, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, acknowledged in a story in The Cincinnati Enquirer that his attorney has been contacted by Washington officials. Kelly, however, said he did not want to discuss other jobs until after the completion of his team's regular season — the Bearcats play at Hawaii on Saturday.

Kelly said he has not been offered the UW job and does not have an interview scheduled with Washington.


• Richardson was the cornerback assigned to cover WSU's Jared Karstetter on the key play of the Apple Cup, when Karstetter got behind him for a 48-yard completion in the final minute. In his first comments on the subject, Richardson said simply, "I just kind of abandoned technique at that point. It was more my fault than anything else. It was a tough time. But there's always next year, you know?" Richardson said he had a difficult week getting over the play but got a lot of support from coaches and teammates.

• Richardson said that Willingham has held private meetings with many players since being let go and is planning to meet with every player on the roster. "It meant a lot," Richardson said of his meeting. "It shows he has a lot of respect for this game and this team."

• The team returned to practice Monday for the first time since last Tuesday. Willingham said Willie Griffin is likely to start at tailback.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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