Pac-10 coaches wish Willingham well Print
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Wednesday, 29 October 2008 11:57
NCAAF Headline News

 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Mike Bellotti has a chart in his office detailing all the coaching changes in the Pac-10 since he became head coach at Oregon in 1995.
This week another one was added when Washington announced that coach Tyrone Willingham would be out as coach at the end of the season.
Every other school in the conference has had at least three head coaches since Bellotti took over the Ducks, while Oregon hasn't fired a coach since Rich Brooks took over in 1977. Brooks left Oregon to take over the St. Louis Rams after leading the Ducks to the Rose Bowl in the 1994 season.
``It has been amazing,'' Bellotti said. ``We have a chart that shows since I've been head coach here how many coaches have been at other schools. Most all of them have had at least three, most of them four and some have had five different coaches in the time I've been head coach at Oregon. I can't explain that other than it's the impatience of some people on both sides - some guys leaving for better jobs; other guys leaving because they didn't do good enough jobs.''
ifornia and Washington State have all had three coaches since 1995. California, Stanford, UCLA and Washington have had four coaches each, with the Huskies now starting the process of looking for their fifth.
Oregon State has also had three different coaches over four stints, as Mike Riley returned to the Beavers after going to the NFL.
``I'm really thankful. This is my second chance,'' Riley said. ``You don't get very many of those in this business. I appreciate Oregon State's open-mindedness. I'm going to hold on for dear life which is my new philosophy on this thing. It's hard to keep but if you can have continuity you can have a program. It's more than just a team. It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of perseverance. Things you think are important in a program are only established with time.''
Willingham is a popular coach among his peers, having spent seven years at Stanford before leaving for Notre Dame and eventually taking over the Huskies in 2005.
``Tyrone has been a great friend and a great leader in the Pac-10,'' Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. ``I've really enjoyed his company and I enjoy what he stands for. I understand the situation very well because I've lived it. I understand how difficult it is. Washington has to do what's best for their program. I'm sure it will work it its way out.''
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or the final four games of the season.
Kevin Craft has started the first eight games for the Bruins (3-5), leading late comeback wins over Tennessee and Stanford but also struggling at other times. He has thrown only seven touchdown passes and 11 interceptions this season, including four picks last week in a 41-20 loss at California.
Chris Forcier, a freshman who threw his first career pass three games earlier, came in and went 1-for-5 with a touchdown pass in relief of Craft.
While coach Rick Neuheisel said both quarterbacks would get some work, he didn't like the characterization of it as an open competition.
``When you say open competition it sounds as if we're just going to go out and have contests or things of that nature. That isn't the case,'' he said. ``We're going to continue to work with Kevin, but we're also going to continue to work with Chris to see if we can find some way to make us a better offense.''
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SLUMPING SUN DEVILS: After entering the season with high hopes and a No. 15 ranking, Arizona State is now just fighting for bowl eligibility.
The Sun Devils won their first two games, but now are on a five-game slide, coming off a 54-20 home loss to Oregon heading into this week's game at Oregon State.
A year ago this week, Arizona State was 8-0 and ranked fourth in the Bowl Championship Series standings with a hopes for making it into the national title game.
With quarterback Rudy Carpenter and a talented receiving corps returning this season, expectations were high at Arizona State.
``We had to have some guys step up. We haven't gotten there yet,'' coach Dennis Erickson said. ``I don't believe anybody believes they're going to have a five-game losing streak. But we're there. I've had it happen a couple other times in my career in college football. You just fight through it.''
Beavers coach Mike Riley still sees the talent that led to the lofty preseason ranking more than the losing streak that has derailed the Sun Devils season.
``It's a dangerous team and a dangerous game that way,'' Riley said. ``This is a team that had high expectations and played some very tough teams in Georgia and USC and Oregon. I've seen them play a ton of good defense in these ballgames, particularly against USC and Georgia. I think they did a nice job in big portions of the game.''
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UNSUNG HERO: Stanford has rarely been thought of as a school known for smash-mouth football.
But Jim Harbaugh has preached that attitude this season and the results have been impressive, with the Cardinal ranking second in the conference in rushing.
While running back Toby Gerhart gets much of the credit for that success, another back who has yet to carry the ball a single time has made his own big contributions.
dinator David Shaw said of his blocking fullback. ``He makes some blocks that I can hear from the press box. He's an outstanding fullback. He's not a good fullback, he's an outstanding fullback.''
Running back Anthony Kimble called Marecic ``one of the best pure football players I've ever played with.'' Gerhart was equally praiseworthy.
``He just loves to hit people,'' Gerhart said. ``He never complains. Other fullbacks would complain about not getting any carries and all they're doing is throwing their body in front of someone all day long. He takes pride in that. He always wants to hit somebody. If he doesn't knock them down he's upset.''
Marecic has started every game since joining the Cardinal last season. He ran the ball five times last season and has seven catches in 20 career contests.
``He doesn't say much,'' quarterback Tavita Pritchard said. ``He just hits people. We'll be in a huddle and I'll call a play that entails him going in and knocking someone's head off. He gets this little rock going, his eyes. He's ready to go. He's pretty funny.''
 

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