UW search heats up

SEATTLE — While University of Washington officials remain tight lipped this week about the search for a new football coach, news is coming from other parts of the country on the school’s search.

Just who will be the next Husky coach remains a mystery, however, as the team prepares to play its final game under Tyrone Willingham.

More than a month after Seahawks defensive backs coach and head coach in waiting Jim Mora released a statement saying he was not a candidate for a the UW job, rumors continued to put him in the mix.

On Wednesday, however, KJR-AM reported that Mora won’t be the coach, though the news didn’t come directly from Mora. Instead, it was reported by KJR’s Dave Mahler, who was told by Hugh Millen, a former UW teammate and roommate of Mora’s, that “there’s no chance, no way” that Mora becomes the next Washington coach.

The biggest news this week is that, according to several reports, Texas Tech’s Mike Leach came to Seattle for an interview. According to a source quoted in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Leach may be intrigued by going to a school where he’d be at the No. 1 program in the state, something he’ll never have in Lubbock. Leach’s trip to Seattle may have also just been a move to get a nice raise, however, as the school is said to be working on a contract extension for the Big 12 coach of the year.

The Huskies may have competition for Leach even if he does want to leave, however, as it was announced Wednesday that Auburn is parting ways with Tommy Tuberville. According to the Avalanche-Journal, Auburn has contacted Leach about the job.

Fresno State coach Pat Hill acknowledged to Fresno reporters Monday that he interviewed for the Washington job, and according to the L.A. Daily News, USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian also interviewed last week.

The only other candidate known to have interviewed is Notre Dame offensive coordinator Michael Haywood, but he’s seen as a long-shot candidate at best.

Boise State’s Chris Petersen’s name has come up as a potential candidate. Petersen was quoted over the weekend by the Idaho Statesman as saying he plans on staying in Boise, and it is thought that the school is working on an extension with him. Tuesday’s news that Chip Kelly will replace Mike Bellotti at Oregon could help the Huskies if they are pursuing Petersen, however, as Petersen has long been thought to have interest in the Oregon job. With Oregon out of the picture, Petersen would perhaps consider more seriously an offer from Washington.

Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly told the Cincinnati Enquirer he was contacted by UW, but now word from Cincinnati is that Kelly will stay there as the school has announced plans for a stadium renovation and expansion. Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is another potential candidate, but Utah athletic director Chris Hill told the Salt Lake Tribune that he’s trying to extend Whittingham’s contract.

Finally, California coach Jeff Tedford, whose name is brought up seemingly whenever a job comes open on the West Coast, said Monday on a conference call that he has not been contacted by Washington.

Tui gets a sixth year: Washington compliance director John Morris confirmed Wednesday that linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo was granted an extra year of eligibility.

The NCAA allows players to petition for a sixth year if they miss two seasons for reasons beyond their control, and Tuiasosopo fits that criteria after missing almost all of his freshman year with a knee injury, and his second year with a head injury suffered in a bicycle accident.

Tuiasosopo, a graduate of Mariner High School, has not yet said whether he will come back to use his final year. Should he return, the Huskies would return every starter on defense aside from cornerback Mesphin Forrester and tackle Johnie Kirton, who has split time in the starting lineup with freshman Senio Kelemete.

Injury report: Forrester has been limited in practice so far this week, but said Tuesday that the ankle injury he suffered in the Apple Cup will not keep him out of Saturday’s game. Linebacker Mason Foster, who has been practicing this week with a removable cast on his left thumb, said his injury will not affect his availability for the game. Foster, Washington’s leading tackler, said the injury occurred during the Apple Cup, and that he hasn’t seen the x-rays yet to determine if his thumb is broken.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more on UW sports, check out the Huskies blog at heraldnet.com /huskiesblog

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