QB prospect may explain Ty's curious new hire

YOU KNOW TY Willingham is getting desperate. Not to take anything away from Steve Gervais, Ty's brand new assistant in charge of running backs, but this lifelong high school head man has never coached a down of college ball. So let's connect the dots: Do you think it's a coincidence that the quarterback on Gervais' '07 state championship team happens to be considered a can't-miss college prospect?

Jake Heaps -- yep, his first name is Jake –- doesn't have the foot speed of Locker, but he's possesses a great arm, sweet touch and a knack for making good decisions. He's also just a sophomore, so look for that 6-1 1/2, 195-pound frame to fill out. This past season he threw for more than 3,000 yards and led Skyline to a 14-0 record, including a wild victory over O'Dea in the state Class 3A championship game.


Seeing Purple

The win gave Gervais his sixth state title. So there's no doubting his legitimacy.

But we're talking about the Pac-10 here, folks, not the KingCo. This is the Conference of Champions, not Mount Si on a pleasant Friday evening in September.

You used to hear about these kinds of hires back in the '60s and '70s -– colleges looking to nab a can't-miss high school athlete go out and find a job for the kid's hometown coach. One of the most celebrated cases in recent years involved Michael Oher, a top-ranked left tackle whose prep coach happened to get hired by Ole Miss as an assistant athletic director three weeks after Oher signed his LOI with the Rebs.

Gervais is 54-years-old, with three decades of stellar high school coaching on his resume. He hasn't stepped on a college football field in an official capacity –- as a player at Oregon State -– since John McCain's hair was black. For perspective, that was when Pong was all the craze. It was 15 years before those brick-sized cell phones hit the market.

You get the picture.

And now Willingham, who has never before hired a high school coach –- not at Washington, not at Notre Dame, not at Stanford –- is suddenly seeing the light.

This is the same Tyrone Willingham who recently fired a former NCAA assistant coach of the year finalist: long-time Husky, Notre Dame, Arizona State and Cal defensive coordinator Kent Baer.

This is the same Tyrone Willingham who was willing to dump highly respected assistants Chris Tormey and Randy Hart in order to woo DeWayne Walker up from UCLA.

You're telling me the same guy who's willing to toss away all that major-conference experience is going to go out and hire a high school coach with no college experience? The same guy who reportedly dangled upward of $350,000 in front of Walker decided his next running backs coach should be a middle-aged dude from Sammamish with no college background?

It seems just a little too implausible, doesn't it?

Implausuble, that is, until you factor in Jake Heaps. (And Kasen Williams, who starred as a 14-year-old freshman for Skyline this past season. Willingham has also now offered the freshman.)

The fact Ty's son played for Gervais at Skyline is a quaint piece of the human interest puzzle.

But what I see is this: Willingham, sitting on the hottest seat in the Pac-10, looking to squeeze two more years of job security out of Locker, and then nabbing Heaps in a great pageant of homerism that can buy him another year or two of job security.

Call it all whatever you will, but in the final analysis it's simply a sign of the growing desperation around Montlake.

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