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Originally published Friday, November 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Huskies Football | Tyrone Willingham is told to stick with recruits

Washington football coach Tyrone Willingham has said since being let go that he was waiting for a directive from the school on how to proceed...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

Arizona State @ UW, 4 p.m., FSN

Washington football coach Tyrone Willingham has said since being let go that he was waiting for a directive from the school on how to proceed in recruiting.

That came this week as athletic director Scott Woodward told Willingham and the rest of the coaching staff to carry on as close to normal as possible.

To that end, Woodward said letters went out this week to all players who have committed to UW, as well as those who had received offers, that those promises will be honored.

Washington has five known commitments, several from players who have said in recent weeks they are wavering. Scout.com lists 28 players with offers.

Woodward said the school will make no new offers until a new coaching staff is in place. But he wants the current staff to continue to recruit the players who do have offers.

"We know it's difficult at this time without a head coach," Woodward said.

He said he told Willingham and recruiting coordinator Chris Tormey "to recruit hard and to continue to work on [those who have commitments] and the others that are out there on our target list to keep an open mind [about] the University of Washington."

However, UW coaches are unlikely to do any more in-person visits of recruits saying it doesn't make a lot of sense.

Search update

As for the search for a new coach, Woodward said he doesn't plan to be very open about its progress saying it would "not be to our benefit" to divulge much, possibly scaring away potential candidates if information leaks.

But he reiterated that President Mark Emmert will soon name a search committee to aid in the process. The committee will mostly be advisory, with Emmert and Woodward making the final call on the hire. The school is likely to hire an outside search firm.

Woodward said the fact that a search committee has not yet been named doesn't mean nothing has happened.

"We are well-engaged and we are well-along in the process," he said.

Asked if the timeline has changed, Woodward said "the sooner the better" but that "how this process works, most sitting coaches, whether they are coordinators or head coaches or are involved in football, 99 percent of the time they don't do anything until after the season. So I don't see anything differently here."

That points to a hire in mid-December or so, after the regular season.

Woodward also said finances won't be a hindrance. "We will be very competitive in the marketplace," he said.

Notes

• Thursday's rain forced the Huskies to conduct practice inside the Dempsey Indoor training facility.

• OLB Donald Butler (sore neck) and DT Cameron Elisara (neck injury) should be available Saturday.

• St. Vincent de Paul is asking football fans to bring to the stadium a blanket or coat for homeless and needy neighbors for the "Spread a Little Warmth" drive as part of the Washington-Arizona State game on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com; Times staff reporter Percy Allen contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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