Seattle assistant Mora remains focused despite Washington whispers

10/30/2008 - Seattle Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Jim Mora insists he has just one focus right now, even though many Seattle football fans are wondering whether Mora is taking a serious interest in what's happening a few miles away on the University of Washington campus.

Three days after Washington fired head coach Tyrone Willingham, effective at the end of the season, Mora spoke briefly Thursday, although he did not address the raging speculation about his possible interest in the Huskies' job.

Mora was allowed to talk on condition he only discussed the Seahawks' secondary. When asked why he wouldn't take questions about the Washington job, Mora, who has a contract believed to be worth almost $5 million annually to become the Seahawks head coach next season, held firm.

"I'm interested in preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles," Mora said of the Seahawks' opponent this Sunday, reiterating what he recited before the game with the New York Giants last month. "That's what I'm interested in."

Photocopied images of Mora superimposed with a Washington logo were scattered in various places outside of Husky Stadium before last Saturday's Washington loss to Notre Dame. Mora sits at the top of every Washington fans' wish list since a few years ago when, as head coach in Atlanta, he made an offhand, joking comment on Seattle radio that being Washington's head coach would be his dream job. Ever since, Huskies fans have clamored to make that "dream" a reality.

Mora, the Seahawks' defensive backs coach, grew up in the Seattle area and played linebacker for the Huskies under Don James from 1981-83. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the UW in 1984.

Washington officials haven't exactly debunked the idea of Mora coming to the campus, but have stressed the need to keep their search under wraps to protect coaches of interest.

"Confidentiality is paramount," Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said Thursday about the search in general. "These guys have existing jobs, existing contracts and existing positions."

Woodward said on the morning he fired Willingham that he would consult with Mora on the situation because Mora was a key member of the Husky family. Later Monday, when asked specifically about Mora, university president Mark Emmert did not say Mora was off-limits because he was under contract with the Seahawks. Emmert only said he would not discuss possible candidates or respond to speculation.

The Seahawks say Mora's contract to replace coach Mike Holmgren, who is taking a self-described "sabbatical" after this 10th and final season in Seattle, was signed in February and speaks for itself. Mora has not talked about any plans when he takes over the Seahawks next year.