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WILLINGHAM UNWILLINGLY TO LEAVE HUSKIES

Washington fired coach Tyrone Willingham on Monday after he failed to restore the Huskies (0-7) to national prominence.

Athletic director Scott Woodward said that Willingham will step down at the end of the season to keep continuity in the program. Asked if this was his decision, Willingham said flatly, "no."

Willingham said he never considered resigning: "No, it's just not in my makeup.''

"We didn't win enough football games. That's it," Willingham said. "Hopefully, we've done all the other things right, (and) it's a good strong program for someone to jump into and do things."

Willingham, 54, who has a year left on his contract, will receive a $1-million buyout.

"It's tough. He's the reason I came here," quarterback Ronnie Fouch said.

Speculation on a successor will initially center on former Huskies player Jim Mora Jr., who is in line to be the next coach of the Seahawks but who has also previously expressed interest in the Washington job; Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, an assistant at UW from 1979-90; Fresno State coach Pat Hill; and Lane Kiffin, recently fired as Raiders coach.

Kiffin said Monday night he considered the Huskies opening a great job and said a lot of coaches must already be interested.

Kiffin spent six years as an assistant in the Pac-10 with Southern California, the last two as offensive coordinator, before taking the Raiders job in January 2007.

Willingham, 11-32 in four seasons, was hired in 2004 shortly after he was fired at Notre Dame, where he went 21-15 but 11-12 in his final two seasons.

"It became quite obvious with the performance on the football field (that) it wasn't up to what we talked about at the beginning of the season and previous to the season," said Woodward, who on Oct. 19 began the discussions about Willingham's departure.

Two of the final five games are at home, where many fans have gotten in the habit of leaving at halftime and where Willingham has faced boos recently when his image is shown on the stadium's video screen.

KENTUCKY: Freshman quarterback Randall Cobb will replace Mike Hartline, whose play has trailed off in recent weeks, against Mississippi State on Saturday. The special teams, which gave up three blocked kicks in a loss at Florida, will have their schemes revised.

Northwestern: Starting senior running back Tyrell Sutton will miss the rest of the regular season with a wrist injury. Surgery is scheduled today. Also, starting quarterback C.J. Bacher (leg) is questionable for Saturday's game at No. 20 Minnesota.

Tennessee: Coach Phillip Fulmer can't remember when he has had so much trouble with players struggling to execute. That's the main reason, Fulmer says, the team has been woeful on offense. "It's execution by different players at different times. It's the inconsistency of the run game, and it's the youth at quarterback. In the SEC it's just a few plays and a few players that make a difference," he said.

Big Ten: Commissioner Jim Delany said a replay official mistakenly awarded Michigan a touchdown during its game against Michigan State, the Detroit Free Press reported. Michigan's Brandon Minor leaped to make a catch and knocked over the pylon at the front corner of the end zone on his way down, causing the on-field referee to rule the play incomplete. The replay official overturned the call, ruling that because Minor's foot hit the pylon, it was a touchdown. According to NCAA rules, an airborne player who touches a pylon is out of bounds.

Pickens makes big donation to Okla. St.

STILLWATER, Okla. - Billionaire booster T. Boone Pickens will give another $63-million to Oklahoma State to finish athletic projects that were supposed to be paid for with a previous $165-million donation that took a hit during the economic downturn.

Pickens announced the gift Monday and also said he would return the $125-million remaining in the athletic department's fund to the university.

Pickens' $165-million donation in January 2006 was the largest gift to a college athletic program. He intended to grow it through his investments so it would pay for an estimated $420-million in renovations and new construction on campus.

But Pickens' BP Capital energy encountered financial trouble in recent months. The university said last week considerable funds remained despite reports the money had been largely lost.

Basketball

CLEVELAND STATE: Gary Waters, who had three years left on his contract, got a five-year deal after coaching the Vikings to the NIT, their first postseason appearance in 20 years.

LOUISVILLE WOMEN: Senior starting center Chauntise Wright will miss the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in practice over the weekend. She will redshirt.

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