Willingham Ousted

The University of Notre Dame announces that its head football coach's tenure will end after three years.

Compiled from official sources

SOUTH BEND, Nov. 30, 2004 - Tyrone Willingham, who compiled a 21-15 record during three seasons at Notre Dame, will not be retained by the Irish, the university announced today.

Speculation immediately has focused on Urban Meyer, the red-hot Utah head coach, as Willingham's replacement. Meyer was a Notre Dame assistant for five years and has an out in his Utah contract for Notre Dame.

"We will immediately begin a national search for a new football coach," Kevin White, Irish athletic director, said in a statement. "I don't have any particular parameters in mind - other than identifying an individual who can lead Notre Dame football back to the sustained level of excellence that everyone associated with the University and the program wants and desires."

After a quick start in his Irish tenure, Willingham's program finished with a 5-7 record in 2003, followed by a 6-5 mark in the just-completed 2004 season.

During his inaugural season with the Irish in 2002, Willingham led Notre Dame to a 10-2 regular-season record and a trip to the 2003 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. In the process, he became the only first-year coach in Notre Dame history to win 10 games in his initial campaign.

"All of us had great expectations when we sat here three years ago, and in a number of ways Tyrone has been an excellent fit and a great representative of our program," White said. "He personally has displayed impeccable integrity and tremendous character - and his players have represented themselves off the field in a first-class manner. In addition, our football program under his watch has never been stronger in terms of its academic performance.

"At the end of the day, we simply have not made the progress on the field that we need to make. Nor have we been able to create the positive momentum necessary in our efforts to return the Notre Dame program to the elite level of the college football world."

Willingham, 50, came to Notre Dame from Stanford, where he took the Cardinal to four bowls in seven years and national prominence.

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