|ESPN.com: College Football||[Print without images]|
On any number of levels, the fact that Tyrone Willingham will not be returning illustrates how Notre Dame is not Notre Dame anymore. The university that has not let a coach go without him fulfilling his contract let Willingham go three years into a five-year deal. The 16-year gap since its last national championship now looks as if it will stretch beyond 20.
The unique quality of which Notre Dame has been so proud of for so many years -- that it doesn't do things the way the typical "football factory" does -- became a lot less visible around 1:15 ET Tuesday afternoon. Sending a coach on his way three years into a contract is what any school would do. Florida and Stanford come immediately to mind.
A member of Willingham's staff used the words "frustrated" and "unhappy" Tuesday morning to describe the head coach's state of mind and said that Willingham was in a meeting in which his future would be decided. What we await to hear is whether the University of Washington, whose rumored pursuit of Willingham has been swirling about the coaching fraternity for the last 24 hours, had any effect on Willingham's surprising departure.
-- Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com
|"||The best way to describe it is shock. You hear about this stuff on the message boards, but no one thinks it can happen and then there's a meeting called out of nowhere and it
|— Tommy Zbikowski,